Watch Out For Homophones: Use the Right Words

Connie McKinneyStarred Page By Connie McKinney, 1st Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Languages

The school superintendent spent the summer pouring over test data. Or should it be poring over test data? Let's look at homophones and see which word is correct.

What Are Homophones?


Homophones can trip up even the most experienced writers and grammarians. These are words which sound the same but have different meanings. For example, pear refers to a fruit. Pare means to cut - maybe to pare the pear. Pair means two of a kind.
Let me start by saying this article is not meant to embarrass anybody - only to teach and inform people. All the examples I will use come from either my local newspaper (which shall remain nameless) or from other articles I've read recently. I am not using any examples from Wikinut - except for one I recently wrote and corrected. At least, I hope I caught it in time.
Now, let's look at the example in the page summary. Pour means to take a liquid and dump it such as to pour coffee into a cup. Pore means to examine or study closely. The word pore can also refer to tiny openings such as those in our faces.
So my local newspaper erred by writing:"The superintendent spent the summer pouring over test data." The sentence should have read: "The superintendent spent the summer poring over test data." Unless, of course, the superintendent was so frustrated by the test results that she dumped coffee all over the test papers.
Here is a video which explains homophones:

More Examples of Homophones


Here are some more examples of homophones. I recently read an article online about a couple who ran a coffee shop. They used their own experiences to co-teach a course at a community college for people who wanted to learn how to start their own businesses. I left out the names of the people and the Web site to protect them from embarrassment.
"They can apply these same principals to their own businesses," one member of the couple was quoted as saying.
I wondered: Was it an elementary school principal? A middle school principal? Or a high school principal?
What the person meant to say was principle: a law, doctrine or assumption, according to Webster's Dictionary. A principal is the person who is in charge of the school.
Here's one I read recently in our local newspaper about food carts in our city.
"Joe Schmoe peeked into the food cart," the article read. Wow, I never knew a food cart was as high as a mountain. The reporter meant to say peeked - as in take a look. A peak refers to a high spot such as a mountain.
When in doubt, use the dictionary. I look up words all the time and catch a lot of mistakes that way.

We All Make Mistakes


In conclusion, you should know that everybody makes mistakes including me. When writing the page tags for this article, I wrote home phones instead of homophones. I don't think anyone would find my home phone interesting enough for an article but who knows.
A few days ago, I was writing about a state park and wrote: "This is a beautiful site." Whoops, I meant to write a beautiful sight - meaning something you see with your eyes. I think I deleted that sentence.
If not, then somebody please call the grammar police. I am guilty as charged!

Here is one I wrote recently about National Punctuation Day
Here's a link to Grammar Girl

Attribution


The video came from You Tube.
I took the pictures myself.
This article used the eleventh edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as a resource.

Tags

English, English Grammar, English Language, Homophones, Language, Language Learning, Language Tips

Meet the author

author avatar Connie McKinney
I enjoy exercising, pets, and volunteering as well as writing about these topics and others.

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Comments

author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Very informative as always and thank you for sharing

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author avatar micheal
1st Oct 2013 (#)

good to know

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author avatar Connie McKinney
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Thanks, Fern. I hope I gave people a grammar lesson and a few laughs today.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Thanks, micheal. Glad you enjoyed it.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
1st Oct 2013 (#)

My dear Connie, I always enjoy your notes and wise wrods! Bless you!

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author avatar Mariah
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Forgive me Connie, just a few questions, because, with respect, I think everybody is probably bored silly with grammar discussions by now, and we are all more than aware now that we all make mistakes, so we really shouldn't prolong it.
Agreed.. we don't require the services of the grammar police.
My questions are quite simple
Just exactly what group of authors do you feel require an explanation in that...
'pour means to ie pour a cup of coffee' and that pair means two of a kind?
What makes you think this level of teaching is required on wikinut?
Do you truly believe that authors on Wikinut are so lacking in basic language skills that this is required?
Mariah

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author avatar Connie McKinney
1st Oct 2013 (#)

OK, Mariah, I think I'm done with the grammar articles for now. Let's call a truce, shall we?

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author avatar Mariah
1st Oct 2013 (#)

No argument on that one from me Connie, take care

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
2nd Oct 2013 (#)

I often make mistakes with their and there, I know the difference, but sometimes when typing it just comes out with the wrong one anyhow and I do not always catch it.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
2nd Oct 2013 (#)

Mark, I've done the same thing. It's easy to do.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
2nd Oct 2013 (#)

Thanks Connie ...it is one of my favorite mistakes as I seem to make it quite often...LOL-:0)

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author avatar Connie McKinney
2nd Oct 2013 (#)

Yes, me, too, Delicia. We all make mistakes.

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author avatar Carol
2nd Oct 2013 (#)

A great grammar lesson and amusing too!

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author avatar Connie McKinney
2nd Oct 2013 (#)

Thanks, Carol. Glad you got a chuckle out of it.

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author avatar Retired
3rd Oct 2013 (#)

Thank you. Useful and informative.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
3rd Oct 2013 (#)

Thanks,Jackalyn Ann.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
7th Oct 2013 (#)

I take care but mistakes do happen because there is no another pair of eyes to vet mine. Informative post, Connie, thanks - siva

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author avatar Connie McKinney
7th Oct 2013 (#)

Thanks, Siva. You do a great job proofreading. I have not seen you make many mistakes, Siva.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
7th Oct 2014 (#)

It's elementary my dear Connie Mckinney. Please take a look at the example about peeked.

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