Homophones: The Right Word Might be the Wrong Word


Homophones: The Right Word Might be the Wrong Word

John Druga

The English language can be very funny, and not in a humorous way.

Funny in a strange way. In a weird way.

How can one word sound the same but be spelled differently and have different meanings? How indeed. That’s just the English language.

These are called homophones, words that sound the same but have different spellings and different meanings.

So there are words such as


too two


four fore









Write with Caution in Mind

Photo credit: Jodi Clarke on SlideShare

When writing, two words of caution: Be careful. Three more words of caution: Reread your work.

It’s difficult to confuse some words, but it does happen. When in a rush, a writer can pen “to” when “two” is the correct word. It’s the same with “for” and “four.” “Fore” is only used correctly when a golfer hits the ball in a wayward direction and has a chance is striking another person.

Other words are also easy to confuse. Let’s examine “whose” and “who’s.” “Whose” shows ownership, while its counterpart “who’s” is a contraction for “who is.”

Then there is the pesky “your” and “you’re.” Like the previous example, the first word show ownership while the second word is a contraction for “you are.”


“Take a look at your work”

“You’re one of the best people to do the work.”

Sometimes there is a trio of words that are homophones. Try these on for size: “There,” “their” and “they’re.”

“They’re going there to see their grandmother.”

“They’re” of course is the contraction of “they are” while “there” shows location and “their” shows possession.

Problem Words

I, for one, have problems with words that sound very similar but are spelled differently and have the different meaning. These are not homophones, but are easily confused words. Maybe you, like me, have a difficult time telling the difference between “affect” and “effect.”

In most cases “affect” is a verb meaning “to influence” while “effect” is a noun meaning “result.”

And yes, there are many cases of one word that sounds similar but has a completely different meaning. Here are some more examples:

Accept: to receive

Except: to exclude

Allude: to refer to indirectly

Elude: to avoid
Elicit: draw out

Illicit: illegal

Ensure: guarantee

Insure: insurance

Loath: unwilling

Loathe: abhor
Stationary: not moving

Stationery: paper

If you are not sure which word to use, consult the dictionary.

What similar sounding words confuse you?

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Freelance copy editor staying positive in a negative world. I have worked with authors, small-business owners and online publications.
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