And the author said, “Seven days without writing makes one weak.”
Old joke, I know. But it’s a good introduction to the world of homophones. The word homophone comes from the Greek prefix, homo (meaning same), combined with the Greek root word, phone (meaning sound). Homophones are words that sound the same but have total different meaning. On rainy days when we couldn’t go out for recess, Mrs. Ramsey, my fifth grade grammar teacher, used to give us worksheets to practice homophones. She thought it was fun to puzzle out which word would fit into a sentence. She was old; she didn’t really understand “fun”.
Homophones can be troublesome
Homophones are fractious to say the least, and can frustrate writers spelling checkers don’t find them. That’s the job of good editing.
Homophones can also be stumbling blocks for speakers. The only way a listener knows which word a speaker is using is through context. This is especially difficult for listeners whose primary language is not English. When a word used doesn’t fit the meaning they were taught, understanding is hindered.
Here’s an A,B,C list of common homophones. . .
|A||Ad = Advertisement||Add = combining things|
|B||Band = a group of musicians||Banned = excluded|
|C||Coarse = rough||Course = route|
|D||Discussed = talked over||Disgust = revulsion|
|E||Ewe = female sheep||You = person being addressed|
|F||Flee = run away||Flea = bug|
|G||Grate = make into small pieces||Great = large or important|
|H||Hire = give somebody work||Higher = above|
|I||Idle = not working||Idol = object of worship|
|J||Jeans = denim pants||Genes = basic unit of heredity|
|K||Knead = work the dough||Need = require|
|L||Leased = rented||Least = the smallest amount|
|M||Maize = corn||Maze = confusing paths|
|N||No = Negative or none||Know = acquainted with|
|O||Overdo = exceeded||Overdue = late|
|P||Patience = endurance||Patients = people given medical treatment|
|Q||Quarts = One fourth of a gallon||Quartz = crystal mineral|
|R||Rain = precipitation||Rein = horses bridle|
|S||Sail = travel by boat||Sale = period of reduced prices|
|T||Toad = frog-like creature||Towed = pulled behind|
|U||Undo = unfasten||Undue = unwarranted|
|V||Vane = measures wide direction||Vein = vessel carrying blood|
|w||Way = route||Weigh = determine how heavy|
|X||Xi = 14th letter of the Greek alphabet||Psi = 23rd letter in Greek alphabet|
|Y||Yoke = harness||Yolk = yellow part of an egg|
|Z||I give up – almost did it|
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