Caution: Watch out for homophones

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I hate to get all persnickety about grammar. I’m certainly not perfect and I try not to expect perfection of others. But I am an editor, after all, so you have to allow me an occasional lapse into persnickety territory.

With all of the online reading I’ve been doing, I’ve noticed a trend toward a specific kind of misspelling. It’s the homophones (words with entirely different meanings that sound alike) that seem to be tripping people up.

I’ve seen errors in the blog posts of some prominent bloggers and writers. Problem is, these words are technically spelled correctly so they don’t show up in spell check, particularly on lame blog spell-check programs. Microsoft Word does a much better job of picking up these errors, so you might want to consider writing your drafts in Word if you’re not already doing so.

A very smart editor I used to work with got peak/peek wrong on almost a weekly basis (e.g. “sneak peak!”). And rein/reign seems to trip up the smartest of writers for some reason.

Here are the homophones I see being misused/abused over and over again:

here/hear
peak/peek
it’s/its
they’re/their
break/brake
rein/reign
too/to/two

You might want to go back and check your draft if you’re using any of these words and make sure you didn’t make an embarrassing gaff (or is that gaffe?!).

Here’s a very thorough list of homophones via All About Spelling.

-Maria Schneider

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