Let’s All Be Homophone Friends

by limebirdwriters

OK – you’re probably wondering what exactly this title is all about, and no I haven’t gone mad (well to a certain extent). This little post is all about the weird and wonderful world of the humble homophone.

So, what is a homophone? Well, it’s a word which is pronounced the same as another word but doesn’t mean the same thing. This can get confusing in speech, but this is where context comes in.

Homophones Example

However, in writing, we commonly see many of these homophones spelt incorrectly. I don’t know if you’re the same, but if I see one of these I get an uncontrollable urge to correct it, it’s like a proper disease or something. Anyway, here is a rundown of the most common homophone mishaps:

  • Affect Vs Effect

[Tip – Generally, you will find affect used as a verb and effect as a noun.]

The thought that there might not be any chocolate in the house can really affect your mood.

The effects of discovering that there actually isn’t any chocolate in the house can be catastrophic.

  • Bare Vs Bear

Beth, please don’t bare your naked bum out of the window. It’s scaring the children.

But I can’t bear to keep my bum covered!

  • Complement Vs Compliment

[Tip – Generally, with an E means to go hand in hand with something, whereas with an I is to give praise or to flatter.]

I have to have this glass of wine in my hand because it complements my skin tone.

I will only compliment your hideous dress after drinking lots of wine.

  • Its Vs It’s

[Tip – It’s is a contraction of ‘it’ and ‘is’, so this is an easy way to remember it.]

I want my cake now, I don’t care if it’s not ready!

This cake’s delicious-ness will be its downfall.*

*Some of these words may not exist

  • Loose Vs Lose*

[Tip – ‘Loose’ is an adjective (describing a noun) meaning that something is not tight, whereas ‘Lose’ is a verb (doing word) meaning to not win or to misplace.]

I’m borrowing your shoes, they’re a bit loose on me, but they look good!

Sorry, I didn’t mean to lose your new shoes, but I don’t remember getting home!

  • Than Vs Then

[Tip – ‘Then’ normally is indicative of time whereas ‘Than’ is generally used in terms of comparisons.]

I would rather poke my eyes out than eat a raw tomato.

If you make me eat a raw tomato, then you should prepare to feel my wrath!

  • Their Vs There Vs They’re

[Tip – ‘They’re’ is simply a contraction of ‘they’ and ‘are’, so should be easy to remember.]

Their grammar is terrible.

There is no reason to use poor grammar.

They’re going to make me sad if they continue to use poor grammar.

  • To Vs Too Vs Two

I am off to the shop, would you like some sweets?

Can I come too?

Yay, so many sweets, I feel like I’m two again!

  • Whose Vs Who’s

 [Tip – ‘Whose’ is possessive for who. ‘Who’s’ is a contraction of ‘who is’ (and ‘who has’ in some cases)]

Whose sandwich is this? Can I eat it?

Who’s been eating my food?

  • Your Vs You’re

[Tip – ‘You’re’ is a contraction of ‘you’ and ‘are’ and ‘your’ is a possessive adjective. ]

Your homophone’s top is annoying.

You’re an idiot if you don’t like my top.

Homophones Example

Please do let me know if you can think of any more good ones or if you’ve got some better examples!

* As pointed out by Aaron, ‘Loose’ and ‘Lose’ don’t actually rhyme, so probably aren’t true homophones. However, I’m going to keep them in as it’s quite a common mistake. B x

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21 Comments to “Let’s All Be Homophone Friends”

  1. One that my step-dad used to do that drove me insane was “ideal” for “idea”. Like, “I have an ideal, lets go to the amusement park.” I spent about an hour once in the car trying to explain the difference between idea and ideal, and trying to get him to change something he’d been saying for probably 40 years. He made fun of me for that for years!

  2. I am with you on being obsessively compulsive regarding correcting wayward homophones. Perhaps we have become so dependent on the red squiggly line, spell check and the dreaded auto-correct features in our word processing software that we no longer recognize those errors. Either that or we drink too much wine when we right [sic] Maybe it’s just me.

    • Yes, it is terrible isn’t it? It doesn’t bother me that much if it’s obvious that’s is just a typo accident, however repeated offenders do make me a little frustrated! Well, Word and I sometimes fall out because it changes words that I write to different things. A good example is the way you have written ‘recognize’. So, that’s obviously the American spelling which my Word likes to change my version to! Not grammatically incorrect, but still frustrating however! Ummm, yes I would imagine wine doesn’t help.. 🙂

  3. I find it amazing that so many english-speaking people have trouble with those! I’m from Denmark myself, and I would be horrified if I got any of those wrong, except for it being a typo. Every time I read guides like those(This one is great, by the way), I say to myself: “Don’t people know this?”
    Might just be me who tends to be obsessive 🙂

    • Hej Michelle, welcome to Limebird and thank you for your comment! 🙂

      I’m afraid that it is a problem here that many native English speakers can’t get these basic grammar rules right. Unfortunately, we are not taught grammar at a young age here in England, like you are in many other countries. This means that so many native speakers are unaware of the actual rules of the language.

      An example of this is that at school we were pretty much only taught that nouns are ‘person, place or thing’, verbs are ‘doing words’ and adjectives are ‘describing words’. That’s pretty much the extent of it unfortunately!

  4. I hate to be a grammer Nazi but not all of those pairs are pronounced the same way

    • Are you referring to ‘Lose’ and ‘Loose’? Yes, I guess there is a slight difference in the way they are pronounced, maybe they’re more homonyms rather than homophones. However, it’s still a common mistake that tends to pop up. Maybe I’ll make a little edit.

      PS – *grammar 😉

  5. I have a shirt that says “Their, they’re, there: get it right.” It’s one of my favorite shirts, and I always get people complimenting me on it when I wear it.

    It was also tempting to say “complement” and “where” on purpose in this comment, but I don’t think I’d have been able to live with myself for the rest of the day for deliberately messing up like that…

    • Hi Elli!

      Thanks for stopping by and for your comment! That t shirt definitely sounds like my cup of tea! I need to get more grammar related attire in my life I think!

      Haha, it’s very difficult to do things like that on purpose! Would have been funny though… 🙂

  6. Affect and Effect too. My mistake was a spelling mistake, technically not grammar, so I can still be smug

  7. Awesome post! A lot of my pet peeves are in there. This isn’t really a true homophobe, but I had a friend that would always say “rather” instead of “whether’; as in “rather or not he liked it”. Yikes!

  8. And as a postscript: I should never comment on other’s blogs before my first cup of coffee! I MEANT *homophone*. Now I can be a case in point! (Teehee)

    • Hello! Thanks for your comment! 🙂 Haha, I just read both of your posts. Gosh, you’re so homophon-ic!

      Yes, I could imagine that would be pretty annoying. Did you point out to them what they were saying? It’s quite tricky to break habits though if you’ve been doing them for a long time!

      PS – First cup of coffee? It’s nearly 5:30pm here! 🙂 Hometime! hehe.

  9. I see these errors all the time, and they do call attention to themselves. I see them and just find it hard to believe that the author actually didn’t see it…I think we’ve gotten lazy with the spell-checkers as D.J. Lutz mentioned. I would die of embarrassment if I saw a mistake like this in my own writing.
    Also, today’s generation of youth spend all their time texting and like it or not they abbreviate and such until it now seems quite normal to make your own abbreviations to things. We’ve enabled a generation of kids who have learned to make up their own spelling as they go along. Since we can’t monitor all of the texts we can’t find these errors and constantly correct them.

    • Yes I completely agree. I do understand that’s it’s only natural that a typo here and there will occur, but where it’s so blatent it’s worrying that it went unnoticed.

      I know 😦 It is scary sometimes when I see things some people have written lyk dis an i dun understnd wa it mins. Surely it takes more effort to write like that??

      • Maybe it takes more effort for us because it is not “our” language. I notice that kids today have a very Very hard time talking face to face with people, especially adults. Yet they would probably be perfectly at home texting the President if he had time.

      • What do you mean by it’s not ‘our’ language Neeks? *confused*

  10. Sorry, the young generations today, their text abbreviations are like a “different language” to me. My daughter understands and can read it readily of course.
    Sometimes they use letters to represent words, and sometimes simple abbreviations. One text can be a combination of the two – I don’t know how to read it. 🙂

    • Ah, I get you! I know exactly what you mean, sometimes I look at things that are written and I have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about!

      Haha! Well that’s definitely the same over here in the UK. We get a lot of this – Hi, hw r u? I lyk 2 go clubin. etc. It makes my brain ache when I see it!

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