When I’m editing I often find that the same errors come up time after time. One of the big problems that lots of writers have is homophones – words that sound the same but that have different meanings and (for the most part) spellings.
There are of course the obvious ones – they’re, their and there, for example, and to, too and two. But some less commonly used words can also cause problems. Here are a few examples that I’ve come across recently.
***Please note these apply to British English spellings though most (but not all) are relevant in US English too ***
Phase and faze
Phase – any stage in a series of events or the process of development
They moved to phase two of the building schedule.
Faze – to disturb or disconcert (someone)
His attitude didn’t faze me.
Draft and draught
Draft – a preliminary version of a document
I’m never going to finish the first draft of this novel.
Draught – a current of cool air in a confined space, or a single act of drinking
The old wooden window frames let in a cold draught.
He took a deep draught of ale from the tankard.
Taught, taut, tort and torte!
Taught – past and past participle of teach
I taught him a lesson he won’t forget!
Taut – stretched or pulled tight
The dress was taut over her stomach.
Tort – a wrongful act or infringement of a right leading to lawful liability
The lawyers have opposed tort reform measures.
Torte – a sweet cake or tart
I’d like a very big slice of that chocolate torte.
Loath and loathe
Loath – reluctant or unwilling
I’m loath to lend him the money.
Loathe – feel intense dislike for something or someone
I absolutely loathe marzipan.
Peak and pique
Peak – the highest point of a mountain (noun), a projecting pointed shape (noun), reach a highest point (verb), at the highest level (adjective).
He surveyed the view from the peak of the mountain.
Whisk the eggs into peaks.
The noise peaked as the crowd grew.
The dog was in peak condition.
Pique – a feeling of irritation (noun), arouse interest (verb), feel irritated or resentful (verb).
I smashed the glass in a fit of pique.
My curiosity was piqued.
She was piqued by his bad manners and attitude.
Any examples of words you mix up?