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Tom Cruise is famous for his acting. Barack Obama is famous for his politics. It is common for celebrities to go to jail.

Using the adjectives “common,” “popular,” and “famous” are often some of the most confusing to use. I hear even the most advanced students have difficulty choosing one of these to use in conversation. Here is a way to easily remember the differences, so next time you know exactly how to describe something:

COMMON
com·mon
ˈkämən/
Occuring Often. dOne Often. Ordinary.
The letter “O” is common in the description for “common.” The letter “O” occurs often in the description for “common.”
Do you see how easy it is to remember? Now, let’s try some real-life examples:
♦ Train delays are not common in Japan.
♦ Ramen shops are common in Japan.
POPULAR
pop·u·lar
ˈpäpyələr/
liked by many PeoPle.
P‘s” are PoPular with the PeoPle learning English. Just remember- if its PoPular, many PeoPle like it.
♦ Fast Food restaurants are popular in the United States; a lot of people eat there every day.
♦ Recently, Hybrid cars have become popular. Everyone wants to own one.
FAMOUS
fa·mous
ˈfāməs/
known about (by many people).
If something is famous, is is known about by many people. The people may not like it, but they know about it. Its famOUs.
♦ England is famous for its tea and biscuits. (Many people know about its tea and biscuits. People may or may not like the tea and biscuits, but it doesn’t matter- they are famous because people know about them.)
♦ Apple is a famous computer company.
So, here is an example using all words and showing their unique meanings:
Justin Beiber was a popular pop artist. (Many people liked him.) Now, he is famous for going to jail (He is not necessarily liked for this). It is common for celebrities to go to jail. (Celebrities often go to jail.)
Now that you have an easy way to remember the meanings, what are some ways that you can use common, popular, and famous in a sentence?
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