I don’t know if this will become a regular Wednesday occurrence but it did happen to come to me on a good day considering today is Wednesday. haha The potential plan is to focus on something to do with words in the English language every week or every other week, depending on what comes to me and what others may suggest or request. Please feel free!
So today, I wanted to take a gander at homophones (sound the same but spelled different or have different meanings), not to be confused with homographs (spelled the same but differ in meaning or pronunciation – record (n) vs record(v)) or homonyms (spelled the same and sound the same but have different meanings – bat (animal) and bat (wooden stick)). I find all of these to be potentially problematic, not in the least of which is because I myself am occasionally a victim of mixing these up. Most notably vial vs vile and waist vs waste that I can recall in recent memory, but there are others that have been prone to trip people up from time to time too. So let’s take a closer look at some of our troublemakers, shall we?
We all know the typical culprits like there, their, and they’re.
- I went there this past weekend.
- That is their home on the corner.
- Do you know Tom and Amy? They’re going to come to the party this weekend.
We also know the infamous to, too, and two.
- I’m going to the store.
- But you said I could come too!
- Fine. The two of you can come with me.
Now that we’ve got those out of the way, let’s take a look at a few less common ones, like those mentioned at the beginning.
vial vs vile
- The medicine is stored in vials in the lab.
- I wouldn’t open them, though. They smell vile.
waist vs waste
- That belt around her waist is really cute!
- You shouldn’t waste food. It’s bad for the planet.
You might have come across something like wet vs whet.
- The ground was all wet after it rained.
- The taste of knowledge I gained from the book only whet my appetite for more.
And these sound a little similar to wait vs weight.
- Please be patient and wait for your turn.
- I can’t seem to get my weight to go down.
- **speaking of a homograph / homonym = patient
- She’s a patient at the local hospital.
- She is also a patient person.
Or how about seam vs seem
- You seem to be having trouble making a decision.
- There was a hole in the seam of my dress.
And since it just occurred to me, hole vs whole. haha
- Don’t step in the hole or you’ll twist your ankle.
- I want the whole cake for myself.
While it’s a simple one, it’s also a good idea to be careful with led vs lead. I get these mixed up from time to time too.
- The priest led them down the hall to an open chamber.
- The lead pipes had rusted over and were in a state of disrepair.
- Not to be confused with lead: You lead, I’ll follow.
I’ll go ahead and post another link below to a page that features quite a few additional homophones, homonyms, and homographs. Be careful though, as I would say there is a distinction in sound between accept and except. It’s subtle but it’s there. At least in American English pronunciation. The same goes for advice vs advise. Likewise for allusion vs illusion. You’ll also see bases and basis on this list. I’m not entirely sure why they’re listing desert vs dessert either. Hmm… Starting to wonder if I should provide the link at all. But… most of them are accurate. Let me continue to double-check from an AE perspective. The difference between elicit and illicit is also very subtle, as is eminent and imminent. Ugh. Facts vs fax – slight difference. While not as common, mince and mints are also different. Alright. The rest mostly sound okay. Again, I have to stress that these are from an American English perspective, and I’ll also add that when speaking in a natural and normal manner, sometimes, they do sound the same because we’re not always careful to enunciate clearly. haha
Please feel free to check out the other words at this –>link<–
If you have any questions or would like any example sentences, please feel free to request in the comments below! Thank you!