When you’re learning vocab, its best not to learn similar sounding words or words with similar meanings at the same time as they can easily get confused. If you have to learn them together, its good to have some kind of mnemonic to use to remember which is which. But it’s best to learn one word thoroughly first, and then add the second one, perhaps with a mnemonic just to make sure.
On the other hand, if you know a word really well, a good learning tactic is to chain a new word on to the one you already know.
The word ngaro, meaning to be lost, is a word I know really well. Most people will encounter this word fairly early when learning te reo Māori as not only is it a useful word, but it is used to demonstrate the use of statives.
A similar sounding word is ngaru, meaning wave, as in a wave of the sea. So I can associate ngaru with ngaro to help me learn it easier. Actually, when I first came across the word ngaru, just the similarity to ngaro was enough to enable me remember it through the power of familiarity. However, I’ve also tried to come up with some little mnemonics.
My mnemonics are:
NGARO in the NGARU
I thought I LOST U in the WAVE
Which is supposed to make you think of NGARO – but then there is a U in the WAVE, so NGARO with a U is NGARU. Its a bit like a cryptic crossword clue, so maybe you can think of one that works better for you!