Tittle Tuesday ~ Homophones & More!

Homophones. Sneaky little words that are similar in pronunciation but differs in meaning. Typos come in many differing flavors though, and those aren’t the only ones you need to worry about:

Plenty of words, plenty of fish

Homophone – similar in sound, different meaning, different spelling

  • die vs. dye
  • knight vs. night
  • sell vs. cell

Heterograph – different spelling and meaning

  • to, too, too
  • there, their, they’re
  • you’re, your 

Heteronym – same spelling, different sound and meaning

  • desert (to leave) vs. desert (arid region)
  • lead (bring someone) vs. lead (metallic element)
  • bass (musical instrument) vs. bass (fish)

Homograph – same spelling, different meaning (possibly the same pronunciation)

  • axes (ax, plural) & axes (axis, plural)
  • bow (front of a boat), bow (tied ribbon), & bow (bend at the waist)
  • wound (to turn) & wound (injury)

and of course

Synonyms – words with the same or similar meaning 

  • lesson, object, instance, model, etc. 
  • write, draft, print, pen, note, etc. 
  • red, cherry, rose, crimson (though I believe colors are similar and should be picked carefully since they are not perfect words to swap in and out.)
You can still escape!

The problem with all these kinds of words though is that spellcheck is not going to help you. Grammarly is better to use than your program’s spellcheck, but even then the service is not going to help you find everything. (I do use Grammarly, and I do believe it helps,, but it’s not the only way I check for editing/writing errors, as you’ll read later). You’re going to have to build up confidence in yourself through repeated battles with wayward words and mental slips (compliment vs. complement anyone? How about affect vs. effect?)

How can you find the best way to check? Try several different methods and combine them. Checking does need to be constantly done, just to make sure that you’ve gotten everything and that nothing’s slipped past. (The methods below are suggestions, feel free to chime in on the comments with how you proof or what works for you.)

  • read aloud to yourself 
  • listen with a text to voice program (I use this method with the Voice Dream app)
  • highlight everything (then un-highlight as you read [I use this method too!])
  • put a ruler or piece of paper under the line you’re checking
  • ask other people to read your writing (critique partners and beta readers [you’re going to want a few more pairs of eyes looking over things])

Once you start seeing which are your weaker words, you can keep a list of what you want to CRTL +F and check on individually. It can also be a little… mind-boggling to look for “their” in 90,000 words, so this might best be done chapter to chapter (but if you have the fortitude to do that from start to finish, I salute you!)

For me, a particular pet peeve would be affect and effect. Any frequently annoying words for you?

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