By Ron Cooper
The Word Doctor
Its a crying shame how often writers use the wrong word!
Oops, I just used “its” instead of the correct word, “it’s.” I’m just trying to see if you are paying attention!
Homophones such as “it’s” and “its” are words that are pronounced the same, but have different meanings and spellings.
How do you guard against falling into the homophone trap? The best way is to study sentences with both words used properly in context.
Carefully examine what distinguishes one from another. Then you can prevent the embarrassment that comes with this kind of goof-up.
I’ve prepared a few for you, putting them in context to allow you to make the correct distinctions:
The assistant principal at our high school read the essay, “Principles of Effective Study,” to the assembly.
The guest’s compliment about my dinner party complemented a delightful evening.
Her life certainly will be altered after saying her vows at the altar. (Thanks to Gail Ross)
During the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the Russian tsar kept a tight rein on his people.
A foul odor emitted from the pen where the fowl were contained.
We’re heading for the nation’s capital where our Congressman will give us a personal tour of the Capitol.
Our pet dog is out on the loose. I’m afraid we’ll lose him in this fog.
Hope this has helped you. Check out this site for an exhaustive list of homophones: http://www.homophone.com/index.php
One last word: Homophones are hear to stay, but you can master them. Yep, I tried to trick you in that last sentence. It’s “here” instead of “hear.”
Sorry ‘bout that!