Grammar Tip #2: Homophones
Well, as promised, it’s time for Tip #2 in my Grammar Tip series of blogs.
I did promise short and sweet but, unfortunately, I just have too much to say and, I fear, this blog may be longer than expected.
So, with any luck you read Grammar Tip #1: To A or not to A? If not, maybe add it to your reading list? If you’ve nailed when to use A and when to use AN and you’re ready for homophones, then read on!
What is a homophone?
Homophones are words that have different spellings but sound 🔈 the same. They also have different meanings.
They are commonly confused in writing and are probably my biggest pet peeve. (sorry not sorry).
Given that they are easy to confuse, I thought I’d share my knowledge with you and provide you with a quick reference guide in this blog.
I’ve included the most commonly confused ones which I also posted about on my socials last week and I’ve also included a few which, in my opinion, are some of the more difficult ones.
Follow me to ensure you don’t miss any of my future grammar tips and tricks:
I have a list and a dictionary close by when I’m writing to ensure that I am using the right word at the right time. That’s right, I’ve been in this industry for over 10 years and there are some that ‘get me’ every time!
It’s such a relief to know my weaknesses and protect against them.
Why should you care?
As I said in my last blog, first impressions do matter. It’s a fact. No matter how good a piece of content is, if it’s got glaring errors, it’s going to distract your audience.
When it comes to homophones, the correct word use is even more important. Using the incorrect word can mean your content loses it’s direction or meaning or, even worse, makes no sense 🤷♀️.
Let’s jump into the homophones I see most of the time. I see these in social media posts (mostly) and shorter pieces of content, including tag lines.
Your – belongs to or is associated with a person
Your car 🚗 is red.
You’re – a contraction for you are
You’re looking lovely tonight.
Their – belongs to or is associated with a person
Their car is red.
There – indicative of a place or position
Your car is over there.
They’re – a contraction of they are
They’re getting into your car.
Ok, so they’re technically not ‘homophones’ in the true sense but they are commonly confused so forgive me these!
Were – past tense of be
You were driving your car 🚗.
Where – indicative of a place or position
Where did you drive your car?
We’re – a contraction of we are
We’re going for a drive in your car.
To – shows motion, time, direction and goal
We’re going to the shops.
Too – can be used instead of also, excessively or very
Can I come, too?
Two – number 2
Ok, so those are the ones I see most often. Easily confused and ones that the eye can skim over without really noticing meaning they can (sometimes) be forgiven by an audience.
Don’t panic, as I said last time, I will never correct your grammar or spelling publicly, I’m not mean. I may send you a very polite email just to let you know, I’m nice that way.
It’s time for some more complex ones.
This first one was a W-O-W moment. You know what I mean when you learn something so mind-blowing 🤯 that you just have to share it?
As I was happily researching the above homophones, I came across compliment and complement.
These are 2 of my kryptonite words. They make me doubt my knowledge almost every time and, as such, had made it onto my ‘list’. But it didn’t matter how many ways I tried to remember, how many times I read the definitions, they just wouldn’t stick … until now…
So, complement and compliment and how to know which to use? The image will help, I hope, but in words:
Complement – to complete.
This wine 🍷 complements the meal.
The word complement kind of looks like the word, complete, and both contain an E after the L.
The wine completes the meal also makes sense.
Compliment – to say something good about something/someone else.
You look lovely today. 👸
Oh, what a lovely compliment, thank you. 😊
Note the I after the L? Does that help? Please say you just had a W-O-W moment like me?
Bare – to be naked.
I had to bare all to the group.
Bear - 🐻 I think we all know that one! Bear means to carry something.
It was too much to bear.
Bore – boring.
The lecture was a bore. (sorry to any lecturers!).
Boar - 🐗 an uncastrated pig.
The boar tasted wonderful at dinner.
Bored – think we covered this in the one above. To feel bored, boring, bore.
I was bored of waiting for the bus.
Board – a cut piece of wood. I wonder, then, if old game boards were made of wood and not cardboard?
The board game was not boring to play.
Break – to interrupt, damage.
My lunch break is never long enough.
Brake – a device for slowing or stopping.
I put my foot on the brake.
Another pair that used to be my kryptonite and ‘technically’ not homophones as they don’t sound exactly the same. The two words are confused regularly, maybe because they sound VERY similar, because they’re very similar in spelling or because they are linked in many ways? You decide:
Affect – to impact or change.
The storm affected the people of Perth.
Gravity affects everything in the universe.
Effect – the result of a change.
The effect of the storm was devastating.
Or, how about a really good example of how these two words are interlinked?
If an event affects your life you will feel the event’s effect.
I won’t go into them today, as I had promised a short blog, but there are exceptions to this rule, as with many in the English language, so if you’d like to delve further, I recommend a deep dive into a Google search and see what you come up with!
Whether – is a conjunction meaning if and commonly used in the phrase, whether or not.
It’s time to help people, whether we want to or not.
Weather – can mean dealing with a difficult situation, to endure, or the one we all know, the weather (sun 🌞, wind, rain ☔).
If the country can weather these difficult times…
I’m just watching the weather forecast.
The English language is a maze of rules that you learn and are then told to break. It’s a minefield that not everyone gets the hang of!
I recommend if you have, as I call them, kryptonite words, creating yourself a quick reference guide to refer to when you’re writing.
Some of the words on mine are:
Complement and compliment – that’s right, even with my new W-O-W learning, I still keep this one handy.
Affect and effect – because even now, with the complexities of the two words being used together, I need to reference.
Brought and bought – not on this list because they definitely aren’t homophones.
If there is a grammar rule that you struggle with, send me a message or pop me an email and let’s see if I can help.
Love creating your content and understand the need for correct grammar but don’t have time to fix it yourself? Get in touch with me.
As a copy editor and proofreader, or proof-editor as someone so aptly put it this week, I can polish your content so that you’re not having that, OMG where’s the edit post button!
We’ve all been there!