Words with Same Sound, Different Spelling – Homonyms

bookpagespicfile000739253401The English language doesn’t make it easy to have flawless writing. In fact, it can be downright complicated especially with the number of words that sound the same, but have a different spelling and a different meaning.  If writing in English is  your job or some aspect of your job, it is so important to have all t’s crossed and i’s dotted. This is the hallmark of a good transcriber and a good writer.  Because of words that are pronounced the same but have a different spelling, a writer can create confusion for the reader and reflect poorly on the writer’s skills if  those pesky words are not caught during proofreading.

Words that sound the same, but are spelled differently are  homonyms, a great sounding word for a quirky little part of the English language meant  to slip up the average spellcheck on your computer. You must be hyper-vigilent for the possibilities of these little words slipping in and ruining what may have been a perfectly good document or transcription.

I’ve listed a few words here (or is it hear?) that are common culprits. Let’s have a go at this –words with the  same sound,  different spelling:

Pear           Pare              Pair

Be               Bee

Lye              Lie

Fair             Fare

Bass            Base

Bow             Bough

Lead             Led

Too               To                 Two

Their            There           They’re

Mail              Male

Plane            Plain

Genes           Jeans

Deer              Dear

Hear              Here

Right            Write

Dye                Die

Week            Weak

Prey              Pray

Bridal           Bridle

Site                Cite                Sight

Principle      Principal

Buy                Bye

Yes, these are just a few of the  little words that can trip up any  simple spellcheck. I’m sure you can add more. Happily, there are some grammar and spellcheck programs that can ferret out homonyms. Still, good transcribers and writers should be on the lookout for  the homonym when proofreading. As with any other grammatical or spelling error, there is always the chance that a homonym may sneak through. Flawless is what we aim for in our writing, certainly in any transcription business, and one homonym can ruin that.

So, the lesson in this writing is transcribers and writers must remain alert for the spoilers, the homonyms, the unique words that sound the same, but have a different spelling and a different meaning. They can be the weak (or is it week?) spot in your writing.

Write On!

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6 Comments on “Words with Same Sound, Different Spelling – Homonyms”

  1. theplews Says:

    I think you might have got your terms confused a little.

    A homonym (that you are talking about above) is actually a word that shares the same pronunciation as another word, AS WELL AS the same spelling as another word, BUT has a different meaning. So for example the noun ‘can’ as in ‘a can of coke’ is a homonym with the verb ‘can’ as in ‘can I go to the store?’.

    Words that share the same pronunciation as another word, but don’t share the same spelling are NOT homonyms. They are homophones. So all homonyms are also homophones because they share the same sound, but not all homophones are homonyms!

    So, example homonyms are: can (verb) and can (noun).
    Right (as in ‘turn right at the end of the road’) and right (as in ‘I have the right to express myself).

    When I teach this, I try and help my students by saying: a homophone is two words that you couldn’t tell apart if you heard them said over the phone: they have the same sound. BUT you can tell homophones apart when you see them written down. Homonyms have to be written the same way too.

    Homophone examples are most of the ones in your article above: genes and jeans, bye and buy etc.

    All good confusing fun!

  2. Destiny Says:

    There is more than two bye’s there is buy, bye, by, and bi

  3. *** Says:

    Good shitt


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