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  • Writer's pictureSteve Gamel

12 Common Homophones That Still Confuse Everybody

If you're a fan of the Edit This® blog or at least stop by to read our fun content every once in a while, then you know we have a fascination with homophones.

And that fascination is warranted, too. Homophones are those words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings (roll and role, reign and rein, flair and flare, etc.). They are everywhere in the English language, and their subtle nuances are enough to trip up even the savviest of us writers and editors if we're not careful.

You can check out our Grammar Lesson Roundup to read more on the topic of homophones. In the meantime, here are 12 common homophones that still confuse everybody.

1. You're and Your

You're is a contraction of you are. Your shows possession.

* Is that your cat?

* You're making me mad.

2. There, Their, They're

There refers to a location (place) or something that exists. Their shows possession. They're is short for they are.

* There is a mustard stain on your shirt.

* All of their friends showed up.

* They're always sleepy after lunch.

3. Compliment and Complement

A Compliment is a polite expression of praise or admiration. Complement refers to something that enhances.

* John gave Jane a nice compliment.

* That color complements our furniture.

4. Principle and Principal

A Principle is a basic truth or law. A Principal is the head of a school or organization. It can also be used to refer to a sum of money.

* These are the principles of writing.

* Mr. Jordan is the new principal.

5. Brake and Break

Brake means to stop and refers to the device used to stop. Break means to shatter something or pause for rest.

* Steve slammed on the brakes.

* Jackson didn't mean to break his toy.

6. Weather and Whether

Weather is the climate outside or the ability to withstand something. Whether is an expression of doubt, inquiry, or can be used to describe when choosing between alternatives.

* The weather outside is frightful.

* I'm going whether you do or not.

7. Accept and Except

Accept means to receive. Except refers to when we exclude something.

* I accept the punishment.

* I choose everyone except Tom.

8. Than and Then

Than is used for comparisons. Then indicates a passage of time.

* John is older than Alicia.

* Open the door, and then enter.

9. Affect and Effect

Affect means to influence. Effect means to cause or bring about.

* Leslie's attitude affected her decision.

* That drug has a nasty side effect.

10. Reign and Rein

Reign refers to a period of power. Rein refers to straps used to control a horse.

* The King's reign lasted 40 years.

* Hold on tight to those reins.

11. It's and Its

It's is a contraction of it is, or it has. Its is used to show possession.

* It's Groundhog Day ... again.

* The dog broke its leg.

12. Dual and Duel

Dual is something that consists of two parts. Duel is combat or conflict between people.

* His car has a dual exhaust system.

* Steve challenged Adam to a duel.

Call Edit This for all your grammar and editing needs

It's fun to tease friends on Facebook or point out errors in written copy. Still, any spelling or grammar error in business writing – brochures, your website content, blog posts, press releases, newsletters, a postcard, etc. – can wreak havoc on your company's image.

Studies consistently show that when choosing between two companies, customers happily prefer the one with error-free written communication.

If you're interested in having Edit This handle your company's content writing and editing needs, give us a call today! We love to write copy from scratch or spruce up what you already have. When it comes to grammar, everyone could use an extra set of eyes.

*STEVE GAMEL is the President & Owner of Edit This, a writing and editing services company located in Denton, TX. Steve handles anything involving the written word. Give him a call today to help give your business a clear voice.

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