Join Judy Steiner-Williams for an in-depth discussion in this video Using sound-alikes, part of Grammar Foundations.
Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." In other words, the difference between words, even though they may sound alike and look alike, is huge. Some confused words are actually pronounced exactly the same. For example, "there," t-h-e-r-e, location as in "over there," and t-h-e-i-r, their possession, as in "their house." Others have close sounds, close enough to cause us to use them incorrectly. For example, "allude," to refer to something indirectly. "The supervisor alluded that we might get a new building." And "elude"—to avoid detection. "The correct process seemed to elude the new employee." Others look and sound different but also get confusing, such as "disinterested" and "uninterested." Disinterested means unbiased or impartial. "The disinterested mediator helped facilitate negotiations." Uninterested means indifferent. "The audience seemed uninterested in the presentation." Still others are misused because of incorrect pronunciations rather than not knowing the meaning. For example, "suppose" and "supposed". That D is important. "I suppose you know the location." Present tense. Now supposed. "You were supposed to submit the report yesterday." Past tense. Let's look at some more examples in each of these categories, beginning with the ones that sound identical. "Allot," a-l-l-o-t, is to give each person his or her share—a verb. "Alot," a-l-o-t, written as one word is not correct. "A lot," as two words, is the correct spelling. "Even though each manager was allotted time to use the conference room, a lot of time was wasted." "Cite," c-i-t-e is the verb. S-i-t-e and s-i-g-h-t are both nouns but with very different meanings. Please cite, give credit to your sources. The building site, the location, has been purchased. Her eye sight, seeing with the eye, improved after surgery. "Everyone." These are obviously pronounced the same, but the problem occurs with knowing if the two words should be written without a space or separated into two different words. Here's the difference. Everyone as one word means everybody and is used when you want to refer to all the people in a group. "Everyone will vote on the proposal." But if you're referring to the individual people or things that make up a group, then two words should be used. "Every one of the ballots will be counted." In this sentence, the word "single" can be added between "every" and "one." Every single one. "It's," i-t-apostrophe-s, is the contraction of "it is." "It's likely that the departments will merge." I-t-s is a possessive pronoun. "The company got its supplies on time." Principal, a-l, the person in charge, the main element. L-e, the rule. "The principal change," the main, "will be announced later today." "Which principles," rules, "were applied for making the change?" Stationary, the a-r-y version means not movable, an adjective. "How long did you ride the stationary, unmovable bicycle?" E-r-y, the paper on which you write, a noun. "I like the new company stationery letterhead." "You're," y-o-u-apostrophe-r-e is the contraction for "you are." "You're receiving the top employee award." "Your," y-o-u-r is a possessive pronoun. "Your report was successfully submitted." Knowing the correct version of these confusing words is important. Now let's continue this confusion discussion in the next lesson.
- Why does grammar matter?
- Diagramming sentences
- Understanding pronouns
- Working with adjectives and adverbs
- Making sentences parallel
- Deciding when to use active and passive voice
- Using commas correctly
- Practicing grammar rules