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Please imagine your neighbor has identical twin sons and since you've met them you've been unable to recognize them properly. It seems strange to you and you're talking to a friend. I was wondering if someone could let me know which one of my self-made sentences below works here:

  • I always mistake twins up.

  • I always muddle twins up.

  • I always mix twins up.

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Mistake is not used with up, and muddle as a verb is relatively uncommon in US English; so of your three choices, the most natural to my ear is

I always mix the twins up. (If you omit the article you are saying that you confuse all pairs of twins, not just the pair next door.)

But in my part of the country it would be even more natural to say

I always get the twins mixed up.

  • Yes, get the twins mixed up. – Lambie Jan 14 '17 at 20:56
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I always mix up the twins.
I always mix the twins up.
I always muddle the twins up.
I always muddle up the twins.

You need to use the since you are talking about a specific set of twins, otherwise your mistaken identity would apply for all twins.

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Don't use mistake; mistake up is not a phrasal verb or idiom.

I wouldn't use muddle, either. That implies more of a total state of confusion, not just getting two things confused with each other.

The clear choice here is mix up, but you want to change your wording:

I always mix the twins up.

or:

I always get the twins mixed up.

You want to say "the twins," and not just "twins" because you are talking about a particular pair of twins – the ones who live near you.

As a footnote, yet another way to convey this would be:

I never know which one is which.

  • 1
    Muddle up. – userr2684291 Jan 14 '17 at 14:08
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    @user2684291 - Thanks for the link! Good reference. I did notice, though, that it was labeled MAINLY UK. Correctly so, I think – I don't imagine you'd hear it that way very often here in the US. That's interesting for me to learn, though, and I appreciate you mentioning it. – J.R. Jan 14 '17 at 14:11
  • @J.R. how about: "I always mistake those twins for each other" as we can say: "I mistook him for his brother"? – A-friend Jan 14 '17 at 14:45
  • That first one is improvement over your initial suggestions, in my opinion. – J.R. Jan 14 '17 at 15:27
  • So does this improvement sound natural to a native speaker @J.R.? – A-friend Jan 14 '17 at 15:34
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Mix.. Up is correct: mixed up,you mean that who you really thought was child X was really child Y Muddle up seems to be right too, but like this: The twins are so alike that it's easy to muddle them up.

mistake Won't work, since they are usually two persons, and by a mistake you don't mean mixing or confusing thing.

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