Homophone: New Word For An Old Nemesis

So what’s a Homophone?  You may know them better as Homonyms.   Homonym literally means “same name,” as derived from the Greek.  Homophone means “same sound.”  Merriam-Webster defines Homophone as “one of two or more words pronounced alike but different in meaning or derivation or spelling (as the words to, too and two). ”  Homophone is a more accurate description of what these words really are.

Why do these words get us into trouble?  Simple.  A spell checker won’t help you if you use the wrong word and you spell it correctly!  Prime example:  Its vs. It’s.  “Its” is a possessive adjective.  “It’s” is a contraction of the words “It + is” or “It + has.”  Most people think “It’s” is a possesive because other possessives are formed with an apostrophe.  It can get confusing. 

Look at the example in the Merriam-Webster definition:  To, Too and Two.  What’s the difference?  “To” is a preposition used to indicate movement, action or condition.  “Too” is an adverb meaning also or besides.  “Two” is the number 2.  Does it matter?  Oh, yeah!

Another common mistake is made with there, their and they’re.  “There” is an adverb meaning in or at that place.  “Their” is an adjective meaning of or relating to them or themselves (plural) especially as possessors, agents or objects of an action.  “They’re” is a contraction of the words “They + are.”  Like “It’s,” the form with the apostrophe is only for the contraction, NOT the possessive.

What are some of your favorite homophones?  Don’t have any?  That’s okay.  You will see lots of them on this blog.  Stay tuned!

This Day In History:  In 1929, in what became known as the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,” gunmen believed to be working for Prohibition-era crime lord Al Capone killed seven members of the rival George “Bugs” Moran gang in a Chicago garage.



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Published in: on February 14, 2007 at 8:05 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. We were in the States last December and we checked out a book from the library entitled, “How Much Can a Bare Bear Bear?” It’s a cute children’s book on homophones. Fun study!

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