Homophones and Homonyms

are words that sound like another when spoken but have different meanings and use, different spelling and origin.

Homonyms are words that are spelled like another but of a different meaning.
(e.g., bank= a place where you keep money,
bank= the edge of a river.

Words from the first group are the most common misused words in the English language when writing.

Most of the mistakes I see in writing on websites and blogs are words that are used quite often in the English language. Most of them fall into the homophones category. I see a lot of blogs that contain these common mistakes. Needless to say after a while I quit reading the blogs. So this is a reminder to all bloggers READ what you post and look for these common mistakes. I'm sure your readers will be very thankful.

I have been receiving emails with questions about oxymoron, euphemism, metaphor, cliche, palindrome,
anagram, and pleonasm.

The most frequent ones we see on the internet are usually OXYMORON. I know you have received (as all of us have) some ads/emails that say free loan, biggest little, and/or pretty ugly. I get a laugh every time I see these ads.

Well, my dear readers here are the answers to what each of these are.

oxymoron: a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in "cruel kindness"

euphemism: 1. the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt. 2. the expression so substituted: "To pass away" is a euphemism for "to die."

metaphor: a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity, as in "love is a battlefield.

cliche': A phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought. For example: "One man’s trash is another man’s treasure."

palindrome: A word, phrase, verse, or sentence that reads the same backward or forward. For example: A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!

anagram: a word, phrase, or sentence formed from another by rearranging its letters: “Angel” is an anagram of “glean.”

pleonasm: 1. the use of more words than are necessary to express an idea; redundancy.
2. an instance of this, as free gift or true fact.
3. a redundant word or expression.

A little language humor

A little language humor

Word for the week: arachibutyrophobia

Learn a new word every week to expand your vocabulary.

Almost everyone likes peanut butter but there are some who suffer with arachibutyrophobia

rachibutyrophobia : fear of peanut butter sticking to roof of mouth

I don't think a Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Psychotherapists or a Mental Health Specialists
would ever use this word in front of a patient who has this phobia even if it is the correct word for their fear.

hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia... the fear of long words

Adj.; A subject of jest or mockery – This word describes a person, thing or situation that is likely to be the butt of jokes. Use it when you want to sound justified in poking fun at someone.
erotem: noun; The symbol used in writing known as a question mark...?
Phantomnation: "rare" noun; a perfect example of a ghost word--a word that exists only in a dictionary and has never actually been used.

neologism: noun ; coining of new words, new word or meaning

enormity: noun;heinousness, evilness, wickedness, monstrous, great size

abscond: verb; to run away and hide, depart hurriedly, avoid arrest.

samizdat: noun; clandestine publication of banned literature

anomaly: noun; something different, abnormal, peculiar, or not easily classified; deviation from the normal or common order, or form, or rule; a person who is unusual

obfuscate: verb; To make something obscure or hard to understand. ( Like the tax codes)

quintessence: noun; purest and most perfect form, manifestation, type, or embodiment

Lipogram: noun; A piece of writing that avoids one or more letters of the alphabet. From Greek lipo- (lacking) + gram (something written).]

triskaidekaphobia: noun; Fear of the number 13.

anomalous: adjective; irregular, deviant, abnormal

diatribe: noun; a bitter verbal attack or speech

ennui: noun; mental weariness, boredom

aficionado: noun; devotee of a sport or pastime

Friday, October 9, 2009

Beside and Besides

Take a close look at these words and notice that one has a "s" on the end which changes the meaning.

Beside: preposition, near, next to, at the side of

I will stand beside you through good times or bad.
She stood beside the fence gate.

Besides: in addition to, apart from, except
It was the most popular book ever written, besides the Bible.
Everyone besides Anna wanted to go swimming.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

pore and pour

I recently read in a newspaper that "The police poured over the data of a crime looking for clues". We all know you can't pour over something, unless you are pouring a liquid over it. What they meant was pored which means to read or study.

Pore: intransitive verb; : to gaze intently, to read or study attentively —usually used with over,
to reflect or meditate steadily.

She will pore over the book to get ready for the test.

Pour: transitive verb; to cause to flow in a stream, to dispense from a container
to supply or produce freely or copiously
to give full expression to : vent

intransitive verb; to move with a continuous flow , to rain hard, to move or come continuously, stream
to score easily or freely (as in basketball) —used with in

The waiter will pour drinks for the guest while we serve the food.

Did the rain pour down hard in your area?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

elicit and illicit

Elicit and Illicit may sound the same when spoken but they have different spelling and meaning. Be careful when writing these words.

elicit: verb; to obtain, coax out, draw out, prompt

I could not elicit a response from her.

illicit: adjective; unlawful, forbidden, illegal

He is in jail for smuggling illicit drugs into the country.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Proved vs Proven

“Proved" or "proven" is another one of those sets of words journalists, writers and speakers mix up constantly. While the use or should I say the misuse of these two words will not greatly affect the lives of most people, it's the responsibility of aspiring writers and professional writers, however, to know the difference.

Understand that both "proved and proven" are noted by some dictionaries as past participles of "prove."
Professional writers take a more particular view of the use of these words. But you can use whichever word sounds and works the best for you, Just be sure to use "proven" for the adjectives.

Example: "She used a proven method."

Know that "proved" is the current choice for the past participle of the verb "prove."
An example: The child has proved his strengths in numbers.

You may notice that journalist use "proven" as an adjective in journalism always.
"Proven" is not used as a past participle in journalism.

Apply the rules for predicate adjective in a linking verb construction as well by using "proven." Use "proven" as an adjective that modifies another word as in the following example: The child's ability to add has been proven. "Proven" modifies "ability;" it is not a part of the verb.

Be a careful writer when using "proved" and/or "proven" if you are a journalist where rules reign. But for most of us, we can use either word as a past participle if it applies. But remember to use "proven" as the adjective in all cases, just to be on the safe side.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

13 rules to using Apostrophes


Rule 1. Use the apostrophe with contractions. The apostrophe is always placed at the spot where the letter(s) has been removed.
Examples: don't, isn't
You're right.
She's a great teacher.

Rule 2. Use the apostrophe to show possession. Place the apostrophe before the s to show singular possession.
Examples: one boy's hat
one woman's hat
one actress's hat
one child's hat
Ms. Chang's house
NOTE: Although names ending in s or an s sound are not required to have the second s added in possessive form, it is preferred.
Mr. Jones's golf clubs
Texas's weather
Ms. Straus's daughter
Jose Sanchez's artwork
Dr. Hastings's appointment (name is Hastings)
Mrs. Lees's books (name is Lees)

Rule 3. Use the apostrophe where the noun that should follow is implied.
Example: This was his father's, not his, jacket.

Rule 4. To show plural possession, make the noun plural first. Then immediately use the apostrophe.
Examples: two boys' hats
two women's hats
two actresses' hats
two children's hats
the Changs' house
the Joneses' golf clubs
the Strauses' daughter
the Sanchezes' artwork
the Hastingses' appointment
the Leeses' books

Rule 5. Do not use an apostrophe for the plural of a name.
Examples: We visited the Sanchezes in Los Angeles.
The Changs have two cats and a dog.

Rule 6. With a singular compound noun, show possession with 's at the end of the word.
Example: my mother-in-law's hat

Rule 7. If the compound noun is plural, form the plural first and then
use the apostrophe.
Example: my two brothers-in-law's hats

Rule 8. Use the apostrophe and s after the second name only if two people possess the same item.
Examples: Cesar and Maribel's home is constructed of redwood.
Cesar's and Maribel's job contracts will be renewed
next year.
Indicates separate ownership.
Cesar and Maribel's job contracts will be renewed next year.
Indicates joint ownership of more than one contract.

Rule 9. Never use an apostrophe with possessive pronouns: his, hers, its, theirs, ours, yours, whose. They already show possession so they do not require an apostrophe.

Examples:This book is hers, not yours.
Incorrect: Sincerely your's.

Rule 10. The only time an apostrophe is used for it's is when it is a contraction for it is or it has.
Examples: It's a nice day.
It's your right to refuse the invitation.
It's been great getting to know you.

Rule 11. The plurals for capital letters and numbers used as nouns are not formed with apostrophes.

Examples:She consulted with three M.D.s.
She went to three M.D.s' offices.
The apostrophe is needed here to show plural possessive.
She learned her ABCs.
the 1990s not the 1990's
the '90s or the mid-'70s not the '90's or the mid-'70's

She learned her times tables for 6s and 7s.
Exception: Use apostrophes with capital letters and numbers when the meaning would be unclear otherwise.
Examples: Please dot your i's.
You don't mean is.
Ted couldn't distinguish between her 6's and 0's.
You don't mean Os.

Rule 12. Use the possessive case in front of a gerund (-ing word).
Examples: Alex's skating was a joy to behold.
This does not stop Joan's inspecting of our facilities
next Thursday.

Rule 13. If the gerund has a pronoun in front of it, use the possessive form
of that pronoun.
Examples: I appreciate your inviting me to dinner.
I appreciated his working with me to resolve the conflict.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Misused and Misunderstood words...

Have you ever heard or read something like "That was an incredible presentation"
or "She gave an incredible speech" or "It was an incredible performance." Most of us have heard the word incredible being used as a complimentary word, when in fact it is just the opposite.
Incredible: adjective
1. so extraordinary as to seem impossible: incredible speed.
2. not credible; hard to believe; unbelievable:

I have noticed just recently the use of "Irregardless" on some blogs. Just like the word ain't it has NOT been accepted as a standard English word.
Irregardless: adverb; originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that “there is no such word.” There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.

Invariable: adjective; means it never varies. It stays the same...
This is another word people have been misusing to mean "almost always"
But if it never varies it can not be almost always the same.
If it can change it is variable.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

disc and disk

Disc and disk are homophones.
These two words disc and disk are hard to get right when writing about CDs, CD-ROMs, floppy and/or hard drives. Seems as if all would be the same but they aren't, so be careful when writing about them.

disc: Noun; 1. Sound recording consisting of a disc with continuous grooves; formerly used to reproduce music by rotating while a phonograph needle tracked in the grooves. Compact Disc
2. something with a round shape like a flat circular plate.
3. Cushions of the spine.

When writing about CDs, CD-ROMs and the spine the preferred spelling is disc.

When writing about floppy and/or the hard drive the preferred spelling is disk.

Disk: noun;
1.(Computer science) a memory device consisting of a flat disk covered with a magnetic coating on which information is stored. Floppy Disk
2.a flat circular plate.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Sometimes what we mean to say just doesn't come out right!
But it's always good for a laugh...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lend and Loan

The words lend and loan are 2 commonly misused words and for some reason they are popping up more and more on websites and blogs in incorrect usage.
You can't loan money, you have to lend it.

Lend: verb: to give for temporary use on condition that the same or its equivalent be returned.
I will lend you the money for that item.

Loan: noun: the temporary provision of money (usually at interest)
I will need to get a loan for the car.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Gaffe and Gaff

Gaffe: noun

1. a social or diplomatic blunder
2. a noticeable mistake

Obama made a gaffe in his speach.

Gaff: verb

A gaff is what a fisherman uses to spear or lift a fish, what workers use to climb a telephone pole, or a spur affixed to a gamecocks leg.

1. I tried to gaff the fish but it got away.
2. The rooster had large gaffs on its leg.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Weather or Whether

I was surprised to see just how many people got these 2 homophones mixed up when writing articles on their blog.

Weather: noun The short term state of the atmosphere at a specific time and place, including the temperature, humidity, cloud cover, precipitation, wind, etc. unpleasant or destructive atmospheric conditions, and its effects.
*Homophones: wether(a castrated sheep.), whether

The weather was warm and humid.

The bad weather kept us from going fishing.

whether pronoun, which one of the two, sometimes used in place of "if"
* Homophones: weather
* Homophones: wether

1. Used to introduce an interrogative content clause (indirect question) that consists of multiple alternative possibilities, and indicate uncertainty between them; if.

He chose the correct answer, but whether by luck or by skill I don't know.

2. Used to introduce a yes-or-no interrogative content clause (indirect question) that consists of a single possibility, and indicate uncertainty over it; if, whether or not.

Do you know whether he's coming?

3. Used to introduce multiple alternative possibilities, and indicate the irrelevance of which is the case; regardless of whether, no matter whether.

He's coming, whether you like it or not.

"He's coming, whether you like it or not" is ungrammatical but is often used when speaking or writing.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

heard and herd

These two words are Homophones and the word "herd" is also a Homonym because it has two meanings.

heard: verb perceive with the ear, listen to
I heard the doorbell when it rang.

herd: noun a number of animals,
herd: verb keep together, move in a herd.

We have a large herd of cows.
We will herd them through Texas.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New and Knew

These two words are Homophones. They sound the same when spoken but have different meanings. While visiting some blogs yesterday I noticed that "new" was being used when in fact "knew" was what should have been used. It could have been a typo and the author of the article didn't notice. Funny thing is spell check wont catch these typos because the word is spelled correctly. That's another reason you can't depend entirely on that program.

New:noun; now, for the first time, in original condition, strange(being new to me)

I wore a new dress to work today.
I found a new baseball card for my collection.

Knew: verb;(past tense of know) to be acquainted with, to know, identify, be subject to

I knew it was the same man I saw yesterday.
I knew it was the wrong answer.
He knew it was the wrong color.

I bought a new purse today and knew it wouldn't be big enough for everything I want to put in it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What color are the words?

This is a mind teaser. See how fast you can say the color of the words, not what the word is!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Now and Know

For some reason I keep running across the word NOW used in place of know.
These words don't sound the same when spoken but when writing some people leave
the K off which changes the meaning of the sentence or makes it read funny.

Now :noun; at the present time, on this further ocassion
Please take the trash out now.
What do we do now?

know :verb; have in the mind, something learned, be able to recall

He didn't know her name.
Did he know a lot about fixing cars?
I know the answer to that question.

I know you will take the time to check your articles now.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Role and Roll

These homophones seem to be tripping up a few blog writers for some reason even though they sound alike they do have different meanings.

role: noun; a character portrayed by an actor. "Ghandi" was Ben Kingsley's greatest role. "Hamlet" is a difficult role for most actors.

Roll can be a verb meaning to push something along the ground so that it rotates.
Roll out the barrel. Roll up the carpet.

Roll can also be a noun describing something that has been rolled up. Pass me that roll of carpet. Was it a sweet roll you baked today?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

3 Most Common Mistakes made in English Punctuation

3 Most Common Mistakes made in English Punctuation

Punctuation marks that are not placed where they should be give a negative impression of the writer as much as bad grammar does.

1. Writing Sentence Fragments

Sentence fragments are not complete sentences but they can be made a part of sentences. You should avoid using them, as such. For example:

I would go there. If I could.

There should be no period before the sentence fragment “if I could”. Instead, the fragment should be made part of the sentence, so that it reads like this:

I would go there if I could.

2. Using the Comma Splice

The comma splice joins two independent clauses with a comma. Below is an example.

I saw the itinerary, I want to join.

In this sentence, a comma connects two independent clauses. To correct this, you can either put a period after the first independent clause or add a conjunction after the comma.

I saw the itinerary. I want to join.
I saw the itinerary, and I want to join.

3. Putting Apostrophes for Plural Forms of Nouns

Another common mistake is adding apostrophes to plural nouns. Below are examples.

The orange’s are really sweet.
The kid’s will be performing in a musical.

The apostrophes in these examples should be omitted.

Correct way: The oranges are really sweet.
The kids will be performing in a musical.