Homographs and Homophones

February 19, 2015

It is so important for writers to carefully consider every word they put on the page and ensure it's the correct word. You will quickly turn off a reader by publishing the phrase "[he] peaks my interest" and your credibility will tank. In order to show that you are a great writer, take great care with the details.

 

Despite my broad vocabulary, I frequently use a dictionary to make sure the word used in the content is the correct word. I'm not ashamed to make this statement. I use my resources to make the correct decision.

 

Whether you have an old, dog-eared paperback copy or utilize one of many on-line dictionaries available, don't hesitate to use it. There are also dozens of on-line grammar resources for using tricky words properly.

 

Below are a few examples of words that are often - quite innocently - misused, but are frustrating nonetheless.

 

peak vs. pique:
peak = the pointed top of anything. Ex. "the peak of the mountain"
pique = to arouse an emotion or provoke to action, Ex. "that comment piques my interest"

 

mute vs. moot:
mute = not emitting or having sound of any kind. Ex. "He was born mute."
moot = of little or no practical value or meaning; purely academic. Ex. "that is a moot point"

 

hanger vs. hangar:
hanger =a contrivance on which things are hung, as a hook. Ex. "she hung the dress on a plastic hanger"
hangar =  any relatively wide structure used for housing airplanes or airships. Ex. "his airplane was sheltered in the hangar"

 

capital vs. capitol:
capital = the city or town that is the official seat of government in a country, state, etc. Ex: "Topeka is the capital of Kansas"
capitol = a building occupied by a state legislature. Ex. "the representatives met at the capitol"

 

passed vs. past:
passed = past tense of pass. Ex. "the speeding car passed me on the highway"
past = gone by or elapsed in time. Ex. "during the past year"
OR so as to pass by or beyond. Ex. "the troops marched past"
OR beyond in time; later than; after. Ex. "past noon; half past six"

 

pore vs. pour:
pore = to read carefully. Ex. "she pored over the proposal document"
pour = to cause a flow. Ex. "he poured the milk into a glass"

 

bated vs. baited:
bated = adjective.  Ex. "she waited with bated breath"
baited = verb. Ex. "she baited him with her eyes"

 

Resource: 200 homonyms, homophones and homographs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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