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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Eye New It!

What is a homophone?  Homophones are two (or more) words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings.  (Thank my 8 year for the example of BUT/BUTT.  But means however.  "This is a homophone, but it is a little childish."  BUTT is a rear end.  "Ryan Reynolds has a nice butt.")

Homophones can stump up even the most educated of writers.  As an editor, sometimes they even slipped by me.  Automated spelling/grammar checks don't pick them up usually because you did spell the word correctly. 

Some of them are simple, and those of us that are English Language aficionados already understand most of them.  But, for those that need a little help, here is a list of common homophones that frequently get confused.  Don't worry if you didn't understand, these are very common!

1. TO/TOO/TWO
To.  In a direction towards, so as to reach, OR in front of; this form is a preposition.
"We stood face to face."  "We drove to the city."

Too.  Means also, in addition to.  Can also mean excessively, or more than enough, and is an adverb. 
"Suzy wants to come along, too.”  "Billy ate too much candy."

Two.  A number.  One, Two, three...
"I have two dogs."  "The two cats ran across the street."


2.  YOUR/YOU'RE/YORE
Your.  Adjective showing possession.
"Is this your cup?"

You're.  Contraction of YOU ARE.
"Let me know if you're going to be late."

*TIP*  If you are unsure which one to use, try using you're without the contraction.  If it doesn't fit, it's the wrong form.  Example; "Is this you are cup?"  Doesn't fit, use another form. 

Yore. Means time long past.  Often associated with Old English writing. 
"The days of yore."  This form of the word is typically not used often, make sure it fits with what you are writing before you use it. 

3.  THREW/THROUGH/THRU  **I have seen this confusion several times in the past month in published novels, it's common, so pay attention!**

Threw. Past tense form of throw.  "She threw the ball."

Through. Means in one side and out the other; among or between
"Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go!"  "She walked through the grass."

Thru.  Informal for through.  Technically isn't a real word.  Don't use it.  Fine if you are jotting a note down on the table to your kids, NOT OK in your novel.  Spell it out. 

4. TOAD/TOWED/TOED

Toad. Critter resembling a frog or species of horned lizard.  "I have a toad living in my back yard."

Towed. Past tense of tow.  "I had my car towed home after it broke down."

Toed.  Having a toe, or a specific number of toes.  Can also mean driven obliquely.
"I love three-toed sloths."  "toe the line."

5. PLUM/PLUMB
Plum.  Fruit, or the tree that grows this fruit.  "I had a plum for lunch."

Plumb.  Weight on the end of a line used to determine depth or a true verticle line.  Can also mean an informal directly; squarely. 
"A plumb line was used to start the floorboards."  "I stepped plumb in the middle of that mud puddle."

6. ITS/IT’S
Its.  Possessive form.  “What a pretty dog, what is its name?”
It’s.  Contraction for it is.  “It’s time to come home.” **Again if you are unsure, break the contraction apart and see if it fits.**  “What is it is name?”  NO.  “It is time to come home.”  YES.
And just because I used them in the title:
EYE/I/AYE
Eye.  Your eyeball.  "She has one green eye and one blue eye."

I.  used to refer to oneself.  "I am an editor."

Aye.  Sounds piratey, but really just an old term meaning yes or in favor.  "All in favor, say "aye," all opposed, say "nay."

KNEW/NEW/GNU/NU
Knew. Past tense of know.  "I knew all the material, so I passed the test."

New. Having been made or come into being recently, fresh, never used or worn, just discovered or learned.  "I have new shoes."

Gnu.  Large African animal also called a wildebeest.  "We saw a baby gnu at the zoo.  It was a new gnu!"

Nu.  Thirteenth letter of the Greek alphabet.  "Delta Nu sorority."

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