Tag Archives: homophones

‘Peak’, ‘Peek’ or ‘Pique’ one’s interest?

taking-a-peakI think peek can be taken out of the confusion equation most easily. It simply means ‘a secret look’, and one cannot ‘secret look one’s interest’ and claim grammatical wherewithal. However, errors arise between peak and pique.

Peak is often used wrongly in this expression, presumably because it sounds like it’s bringing one’s interest to a peak, ‘a highest or maximum point’.

The correct phrase is ‘to pique one’s interest’.

Pique, in this context, means ‘to provoke’.

If you ever confuse peek and peak, just remember that peek is like peer, or see the ‘ee’s like a pair of eyes.

I hope this post provoked you interest. Likes, shares, comments and such will be met with eternal gratitude.

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‘Pore’ or ‘Pour’?

poringPeople often confuse the two verbs. You pour a cocktail and then pore over a book.

Pore, in this sense, can only be used in conjunction with ‘over’ or ‘through’ and means to be absorbed in the reading or study of.

Pour means to flow or cause to flow in a steady stream; to prepare and serve (a drink).

My trick for remembering it is to think of the in pour as like a tiny bucket that things could be poured into. So this is the spelling to use when thinking of flowing.

“She filled a bowl with cereal. She poured over the milk.” This would mean that she put milk on her Corn Flakes.

“She filled a bowl with cereal. She pored over the milk.” This means that she stopped after getting her Corn Flakes to examine the milk closely.

pouring

Similarly, if one were to write, “She poured over her book” we would all wonder what she’d poured over it and why.

Pore is also a noun, meaning the tiny holes in faces, but let’s not worry about that now.

Was that of any use to you at all? Likes, shares and comments all wildly appreciated.

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‘Stationary’ or ‘Stationery’?

stationaryBack to school time: a time when proprietors try to cash in on young ones’ collective desire for decorative protractors, pens and paraphernalia. It is also a time when signage misspelling abounds. The A-board to the right was in my shopping precinct. Homophones are tricky. Here’s the correct usage: 

Stationary: adjective; not moving.

Stationery: noun; writing materials. 

The way that I was taught to remember this is to think of the -er in paper. “I bought pap-er from a station-er.”

stationeryTheir etymology is linked. They both originate in the Latin stationarius, which comes from stare which means ‘to stand’. You are stationary when you are standing in one place. Also, stationer (a person who sells stationery) was a tradesperson who had set up at a fixed location and was therefore standing in the same spot, stationary

One more time: 

“The paper is stationery.”

“The car is stationary.”

I hope that was helpful. How do you remember it? Comments welcome!

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Homonyms

A homonym is a word that is identical to another word either in sound or spelling, but differs from it in meaning. It comes from the Greek homos meaning ‘same’. Homonyms can be divided into two sub-types: homophones (from the Greek ‘same’ and phone, ‘sound’) and homograph (‘same’ and graphe,‘writing’).

These are homonyms that are also homographs; they are spelt the same but pronounced differently:

Capsule - Homonym

Capsule – Homonym

  • ‘The bandage was wound around the wound.’
  • ‘The farm was used to produce produce.’

These homonyms are also homophones; they are spelt differently but pronounced the same:

  • ‘I will die if you dye that pink.’
  • ‘Can you see that ewe by the yew?’
  • ‘That boat shop has got a sail sale on.’

Homophones can often be the root cause of common spelling errors: your and you’re, for example. They are also the basis of many glorious puns and jokes. Here are a few courtesy of my favourite joke book (Tim Vine, you are a genius!):

  • The other day I sent my girlfriend a huge pile of snow. I rang her and said, ‘did you get my drift?’
  • My dog always misinterprets things I say. I say ‘heel’ and he goes down the hospital and does what he can.
  • So I went to the cinema and saw a very sad film. The guy behind me started wailing. I got hit in the back of the head with a harpoon.
  • She said ‘I’m going to dig a hole in the ground and fill it with water.’ I thought, she means well.

Test your understanding by telling me which of the above jokes are based on homophones and which are homographs. Answers in the comments please!

Homophones

Tell me your favourite homonym-based joke in the comments!

If you’ve found this useful – please do like and share!

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