Word pairs (sometimes triplets) which sound the same but have different meanings and are spelled differently are most often called homophones. They wreak havoc with writers, editors, and proofreaders for two main reasons: spellcheck doesn’t recognize them as mistakes since they are real words that are just misused and the autocorrect function on phones and computers often tries to “correct” them incorrectly. I call this phenomenon Homophonia.
Why should writers care? If the words you choose are misspelled or misused, they reflect on your ability as a writer. They can say to the reader, “This is a masterpiece of word art!” If the errors are glaring, they can shout, “A first grader could have been more coherent!”
I believe it’s essential to pay attention to usage, punctuation, grammar, and spelling. I learned what I know because I read a lot of books. If the books I had read had been full of errors, how would I have known the difference between (for example) peel and peal?
No, the English language is not perfect, and it is evolving, which is one more reason to be diligent in its usage. If the next generation can’t define and use correctly the homophones listed below, how will they ever know enough to talk about the properties of an ice floe, or the flow rate of a river approaching flood stage?
Here is an exercise for anyone who wishes to take the challenge. Write a sentence using both words (or all three) from a row on the Homophones Chart in one sentence. I gave an example earlier, using floe and flow.
The list is not all-inclusive, and I had help from my husband, Ray, and our waitress, Mavis as I attempted to think of examples. Here are some homophones on which you can practice.
|62||Knows||Nose||Noes (plural of no)|
You may also submit a homophone pair (or triplet) which isn’t on this list. Let’s have some fun. Who knows? We might even learn something.