Homophones and Other Confusing Words

Professor Jen F.

Homonym: one of two or more words spelled and pronounced alike but different in meaning

ex: quail and quail

Homophone: one of two or more words prounounced alike but different in meaning or derivation or spelling

ex: to, too, and two

Homograph: one of two or more words spelled alike but different in meaning or derivation or pronounciation

ex: bow of a ship and bow and arrow

Definitions from www.m-w.com (Merriam-Webster)

Today we are going to discuss homophones. Homonyms are probably not a big issue for most writers--the words are spelled the same, so the reader should get the meaning of the word based on the context of the sentence; same with homographs.

We all do it ocassionally, even the best writers; even the published writers. If you have a beta reader, strong in this area, he or she will find these for you. If you know you have issues with certain homophones, then you can search them out yourself before sending along to your second, third, and fourth pair of eyes.

--Just an admonition: send out the cleanest, best version of your story that you can. Beta readers give their time free of charge--(or in exchange for you reading their work)--let's make their job as easy as possible by being our very own first beta reader. See the article Beta Reading & You more on this.

Here's a list of the most commonly misused homophones--at least that I come across:

to, too, two they're, their, there shown, shone
accept, except waste, waist pore, pour
whether, weather affect, effect sole, soul
aural, oral bare, bear peek, peak, pique
your, you're led, lead

Here's a Web site where you can find an extensive list:

The following list of word pairs aren't homophones, because they aren't really pronounced the same, but I see a lot of mix-ups becasue they are spelled so similarly:

There may be more but I can't think of any right now...if you know of some let me know and I'll add it to the list.

Here are a few other words with issues:

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