Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday Writing Tips: Homonyms

 On the Tsunami Scribble Society retreat, I learned that one of the most common mistakes and editor finds is writer's using the wrong homonym.  I've found a list of the most commonly misused.

Accept vs except:
Accept is to receive.
Except is to leave out.

Advice vs advise (to me confusing, so I'll use examples):
Advice is a recommendation for action (noun): My advice is to buy Pepsi over Coke
Advise is to recommendation a course of action (verb): The school counselor advises students on what classes to take.

Affect vs effect:
Affect is to change.
Effect is a result.

All together vs altogether:
All together is everyone in the same place.
Altogether means entirely.

Already  vs all ready:
Already means previously.
All ready means all prepared.

Capital vs capitol:
Capital is a city, the location of a government; main; important.
Capitol is the center of government

Clothes vs cloths:
Clothes is wearing apparel.
Cloths are pieces of cloth.

Course vs coarse:
Course is a path; a plan of action; series of studies.
Coarse is rough, crude, large.

Complement vs compliment:
Complement is something that completes.
Compliment is to praise someone; praise from someone.

Council vs counsel:
Council is a group of people who meet to discuss issues.
Counsel to advise or to give advice.

Desert vs Dessert:
Desert a dry barren sandy area; desert to abandon; to leave without permission.
Dessert is the final course in a meal (usually sweet)

Formally vs formerly:
Formally is with dignity; following rules or procedures.
Formerly is previously; at an earlier time.

Loose vs Lose:
Loose is to unfasten.
Lose is to suffer loss.

Passed vs past:
Passed is to go by.
Past is the tense of pass; that which has gone by.

Plain vs plane
Plain is simple, common; a flat area of land.
Plane is a flat surface; a tool; an airplane.

Principal vs principle (guilty):
Principal is the head of a school; also means chief, main.
Principle is a rule of conduct.

Stationary vs stationery:
Stationary is in a fixed position.
Stationery is writing paper, envelopes etc.

Than vs then:
Than a conjunction used in comparisons.
Then at that time.

To vs too vs two:
To is a preposition.
Too is also.
Two a number.

Weather vs whether:
Weather is the condition of the air; the atmosphere.
Whether is a conjunction expressing doubt.


Who's vs whose:
Who's  a contraction of who is or who has.
Whose is possessive form of who.

It's vs its:
It's: a contraction of it is or it has.
Its is a personal pronoun showing possession.

You're vs your (guilty, but always just a typo):
You're is a contraction you are.
Your is showing posession

They're vs there vs their:
They're is a contraction of they are.
There is in or at that place.
Their is a form of possession.

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John Messina, Personal Injury Attorney

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