My confusion is whether the right way of writing this would be "confused X with Y" or "confused X for Y"

3 Answers 3


The relevant sense of confuse (verb) is #5 in OED:

To mix up in the mind, to fail to distinguish, erroneously regard as identical, mistake one for another; = CONFOUND v. 7.

The one example given with preposition uses with:

1862 J. Ruskin Munera Pulveris (1880) 29 We in reality confuse wealth with money.

Note that the definition itself features mistake . . . for.

There is little rhyme or reason to the association of certain words with certain prepositions in English (and no definitive reference work on the matter, such as I believe Duden has provided for German), but strong preferences have indeed established themselves. I would suggest using with with confuse and for with mistake:

  • I have spent too long confusing nice with good.
  • I have spent too long mistaking nice for good.

See also this ngram of relative frequencies in books scanned by Google and published 1800–2000.


With is correct when using 'confused'. You might use for with 'swap' or 'exchange', but confusingly enough you could also use 'with' in those cases as well.


I have spent too long conflating nice and good.

Conflation occurs when the identities of two or more individuals, concepts, or places, sharing some characteristics of one another, seem to be a single identity

  • I meant the statement not in the way of thinking the two to be the same, but mistaking one for the other. In that, whenever I saw someone nice, I thought they were also good. Is it still conflating?
    – aflip
    Jul 10, 2014 at 14:34

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