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

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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.

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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.

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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

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  • 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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