Posted in Tips for Young Writers

Homonyms and Homophones – Why You Must Read Your Work

I’m not going to lie. I hated learning grammar in school. And really, when you’re speaking, unless you’re speaking to one of those annoying people that love to correct people’s grammar, no one cares. When you’re writing, though, it’s a different manner.

One area that can trip up writers of all abilities is homonyms and homophones. These are words that sound the same and have a different meaning, but may have the same spelling (in the case of homonyms) or sounds the same and have a different meaning and spelling (in the case of homophones). Homophones are a type of homonym.

To, too and two are homonyms and homophones. They sound the same, they have different meanings and they’re spelled differently. Fair (as in just) and fair (as in a church fair) are homonyms but not homophones. They sound the same and have different meanings, they also have the same spelling.

Uhg. I still hate grammar. But the reason I’m torturing myself with this is for your benefit, because homonyms and homophones can not be picked up by your spell checker, and the grammar checker will struggle.

Take this example:


A pear of witches sat around the boiling pot. A third approached and the to witches nodded too her. She was dragging a bow that had fallen off an old oak tree and she looked tyred and sweaty.

Can you see the homonyms?


A pear of witches sat around the boiling pot. A third approached and the to witches nodded too her. She was dragging a bow that had fallen off an old oak tree and she looked tyred and sweaty.

I wrote the passage in Word and none of the homonyms/homophones were picked up. If you’re relying on your word processor to pick up these errors, then you’re in for trouble. How much trouble depends on how important the piece of writing is. What doesn’t matter for a diary entry, might be a big deal in your uni essay or that short story you want to publish.

So what’s the answer? Go old school and read your work yourself, and out loud. Then, pass it on to a friend or someone you trust to read it. They’re likely to pick up things you missed.

For better or worse, whether we like it or not (and I don’t), grammar does matter in certain situations and writing is one of them. If you’re curious about other homonyms/homophones that are lying in wait to trip you up, just ask Google. He knows everything.

Author:

I write young adult novels and have a passion for reading and writing. My blog is a place were young adult writers can get tips to improve their own writing so that they too can share their stories with the world. I'm a wife to a wonderful husband and mum to two beautiful boys.

Everyone has an opinion. What's yours?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.