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Some Examples Of Commonly Muddled Homonyms (Homophones)

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One of the most common mistakes I come across when proofreading or reviewing transcriptions is the misuse of homonyms, or technically homophones. Homonyms are actually words with different meanings that are spelled and pronounced identically so that they are not actually visible as spelling or transcription errors. Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently, and that’s what keeps people noticing.

Rather than attempting to provide definitions, I have given examples of a number of commonly confused homophones used in appropriate ways in sentences so that hopefully the differences will be clear. This is by no means intended to be an exhaustive list, nor does it include definitions of homonyms/homophones. These are just a few examples that will ease the confusion and hopefully not add to it! The homonyms are shown in [square brackets].

Examples of commonly confused homophones

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[There] are two main characters in this show. [Their] Names are Bill and Ben. [They’re] will soon be jumping out of flower pots.

I have [to] Publish articles on this site. I have [two] articles published on this site. I have items on other sites [too].

I can not [hear] She. Why don’t you come over? [here].

I watched one [current] Affairs program last night at dinner [currants]. The TV I was watching was powered by AC power [current].

The brown [bear] awakened from its hibernation. He had to go out and forage because the closet was [bare].

The smoke could not escape through the chimney because of the [flue] was blocked. The stench in the room made me sick as if I had [flu].

A chicken is a [fowl]. When chicken meat runs out, it is [foul].

It [seems] as if the repair would never end. I have to fix it [seams] in three shirts.

I will [pare] the skin of this apple. Two apples would make one [pair]. Would you rather have an apple or a [pear]?

Be careful if you [tow] this truck gone. You could run over someone with your car [toe].

i want to lose [weight] but i don’t think i will start my diet. Sick [wait] until after Christmas.

Look at her little one [waist]. If she’s not careful, she will [waste] a way.

[Who’s] this girl? Is she the one [whose] brother dating sam?

The old lady was calm [staid]. She went out sometimes, but mostly [stayed] At home.

What’s the best [route] for allocation? I want to go there and [root] drive out some weeds.

The lady of [manor] seemed rather irritating [manner].

These are really only a handful of homophones, but they’re the ones I see mixed up most often in my work.

Thanks to Anne Hickley

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