Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Warning: Homonyms!

“I don’t have to know how to spell, I’ve got spell-check!” proclaims the would-be writer.
Spell-check and thesaurus programs are wonderful, they save a lot of time and trouble and have probably cut into sales of dictionaries. But they are not panaceas. They don’t fix every error a writer can make.
But as long as we’re talking about helpful computer programs, here’s one for you:
Take a trip through it, to save yourself from writing Your when you mean You’re. (Your is possessive; e.g., your hat, your wife, your car. You’re is an abbreviation for you are, as in You’re too smart to use Your for You’re.) Your and You’re are homonyms, words that sound alike but have different meanings. Other examples are Here and Hear, So and Sew, Aisle and Isle, and Stationery (notepaper) and Stationary (stopped).
There are also near-miss homonyms, such as Were and Where, and Affect (to change) and Effect (the change).
Because these homonyms are all actual words, and because spell-checkers don't understand English, they won’t get corrected. And people who know better, such as agents and editors, sigh and groan when trying to read a manuscript full of these errors -- and sometimes decide it’s just too much trouble to make countless needless corrections for the sake of publishing your novel.
So do take that side journey into the web site listing homonyms, just to make sure you don’t make an ignorant mistake. I did.


Terry Odell said...

Pet peeves: baited breath, peaked his interest, poured over the book.

Peg said...

Thanks for this, Monica - there's almost nothing that bothers me more than spelling and grammar errors when I'm in the middle of a good read - even blogs.

Anonymous said...

Hi Monica, found you through Peg's Living a Dream. I am aware of this homonym thingie but sometimes mess up so thanks for this info. It will go on my bookmarks. I use my dictionary and thesaurus for new or big words but those littles sometimes slip by. Thanks again.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Great reminder, Monica, and that website helps, too. If you copy and paste its link, though, as I did, be sure to remove the period from the end! Some of the homonyms listed there I'd never have thought of.

Camille Minichino said...

Great link, Monica, especially for a puzzle fan like me.

Jeannette said...

I once read a memo that ended "Thank you for your patients and assistants." When the error was pointed out to the girl who typed the memo she defended herself by saying the spellcheck didn't flag it.

Kathryn Lilley said...

The one I see all the time is 'loose' used instead of 'lose.' As in, "I am going to loose weight." I get so upset I run straight to the 'fridge.

Betty Hechtman said...

Thanks for the link and the post. Spell check is nice, but leaves some pretty funny mistakes.