Homonyms and Homophones

In the past few hours I have run across a couple of wrong words that were used because they sound the same. These are called homonyms.

There are two kinds of homonyms:

1) Homophones – words that sound the same, but are spelled differently: bough and bow

2) Homographs – words that are spelled the same but have different meanings: the bear (the grizzly) and to bear (a burden)

The two mistakes I spied were homophones:

1) Miner washout – unless the miners lost in West Virginia were washed out of a well, the writer surely meant a minor washout, as opposed to a major washout.

2) Reigned in – unless royalty is involved, the writer surely meant reined in, as in pulling on the reins of a horse to control them.

Spell-check doesn’t catch homonym mistakes. Some of the most common are:

1) To, Too, Two

     To and from; Also; One … Three

2) There, Their, They’re

     Here and there; Belonging to them; They are

Keep an eye out for such homonyms – I sure do!


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