Homophone: a word pronounced the same as another but differing in meaning, whether spelled the same way or not, as heir and air.
Homophones can really trip a writer up. Here are a few common ones.
When a bolt of bright electricity shoots through the sky during a storm, that is lightning.
When dawn comes, the darkness is going away and the room may be lightening.
I see these two words used interchangeably, both as the past tense form of what a follower does with a leader. The confusion likely happens because the past tense of the verb lead is led, which happens to rhyme with the metal lead.
Present tense: I walk through the forest and lead the way for those behind me.
Past tense: I walked through the forest; I led the way for those behind me.
If something happens in spite of someone’s efforts, it takes place anyway.
If you wonder whether something is possible, you may ask if there is any way it could come about.
When Mark pitches a baseball, he throws it.
When Janet is dealing with emotional turmoil, she could be in the throes of depression. Someone else could be in the last throes of death, or in the throes of passion.
First word here is simply the past tense of the one above: Mark threw the ball.
Something or someone passes through something else, such as a train through a tunnel.
An old-fashioned version of through is thru.
The top of a gable roof has a peak.
If you’re peering around a corner, you may catch a peek at something secret.
The first page of a book may pique your interest.
If something is very complicated, it could be altogether confusing. (In other words, completely.)
The family went to the store all together. (In a group.)
What are some that you’ve seen lately? List them in the comments section.
Annette Lyon is a Whitney Award winner, the recipient of Utah’s Best of State medal for fiction, and the author of eight novels, a cookbook, and a grammar guide, plus over a hundred magazine articles. She’s a senior editor at Precision Editing Group and a cum laude graduate from BYU with a degree in English. When she’s not writing, editing, knitting, or eating chocolate, she can be found mothering and avoiding the spots on the kitchen floor. Find her online at blog.annettelyon.com and on Twitter: @AnnetteLyon.
Need a little extra grammar help? Get Annette’s grammar book, There, Their, They’re: A No-Tears Guide to Grammar from the Word Nerd.