#A-Z Challenge: H is for Homophones

For the A-Z challenge, I am posting writing and editing tips to help you improve and enhance your writing.

H is for Homophones

homophones

A homophone is a word that is pronounced in the same way as another word, but has a different meaning and may be spelt differently. They can cause writers, and in turn their readers, confusion.

One common example of this is ‘there’, ‘their’ and they’re’. Since I’ve been editing I’ve been surprised by how many people get this wrong. It isn’t always that a writer doesn’t know the difference, but often the wrong word has been used accidently and just hasn’t been picked up. But if you use the wrong version in your published book, readers will think you don’t know what you’re talking about (there’s another one – your and you’re) and will lose their trust in you and your book.

So, just in case:

  • there – refers to a place or is used with the verb to be: ‘There is a lion in the zoo; look, it’s over there.’
  • their – shows possession. ‘It is their lion.’
  • they’re – the contraction of ‘they are’. ‘They are looking at their lion.’

Other homophones I’ve come across are:

  • waive and wave
  • for, four and fore
  • to, too and two
  • discreet and discrete
  • wrings and ring (‘she was ringing her hands’ should be ‘she was wringing her hands’)
  • fazes and phases

Of course, the words may be spelt the same but have a different meaning (like the example in the cartoon above).

One of the best ways to make sure you’re using the right word is to have someone else read over your work, whether that’s a beta reader, a fellow writer or an editor. Sometimes we’re so close to our work that we don’t notice these relatively simple errors. A fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference.

Spotted any amusing or weird homophones? Do tell me about them by leaving a comment below.

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14 comments

  1. I find that the faster I write, the more often I make mistakes. There’s no excuse for me getting your/you’re wrong, yet when I’m on an instant messenger then I often do.

    It worries me how many emails I receive with these kind of mistakes in them. Particularly from magazines trying to sell me advertising spots.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome! Sometimes when I’m on a roll and I’m in the zone, typing as fast as my fingers can go, the homophones get misused — especially if someone asks me a question right in the middle of the flow. I’ve noticed that in my drafts. LOL! It’s easy to do but it does cause me to lose faith in the writer when I see it in the final product. It does appear that they may not know the difference. I especially see “then” and “than” confused particularly in memes.

    Liked by 1 person

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