Saving English One Word At A Time.

An English tutoring column by Ralph Schatzki who would like you to join him in the task of saving the language, step-by-step, word-by-word, one person at a time.

Neither Hear nor Their - A Lesson on Homonym

Homonym: A spell-Check mistake.

Some words sound the same but are spelled differently. See what we can do to save English one word at a time!

Spell-Check Mistakes

Spell-check is a great thing. No one ever need consult again a dictionary or enlist the help of a past Scripps Spelling Bee champion. Spelling mistakes are a thing of the past.

Whoa. Are the alarm bells going off in your head, yet? As detestable as most acronyms are, is this TGTBT? [For those of you who don't know, that means "too good to be true."]

The answer, in a word, is "yes." There are many instances where spell-check is unable to spot a mistake, such as where a typo produces another, legitimate word, or where a homonym is used in place of the correct word.

What are Homonyms?

For those of you who have chosen to forget much of the unpleasantness that is elementary school, homonyms are words that sound the same but are spelled differently. When we speak, of course, these are unimportant: they sound the same. In written form, though, they make a difference.

If they didn't, then the word "homonym" would disappear from use!

Neither Hear nor Their

Many homonym mistakes litter writing across the world, but only two will be focused upon, "here." (an adverb, meaning "in this place.") Do you "hear" (a verb, meaning "to perceive aurally, or by the ear") me? "There" (an adverb, meaning "in that place") are many reasons English teachers pull out "their" (a pronoun, meaning "belonging to them") hair, and the misuse of here/hear and there/their are two of them!

Now, to be fair, most writers don't confuse "here" and "hear," although it happens on occasion. "There" and "their," however, are mistaken almost more often than not.

If you don't think homonyms are that big a deal, just re-read the beginning of this "peace:"

"Spell-check is a grate thing. Know won ever knead consult a dictionary oar enlist the help of a passed Scripps Spelling Be Champion. Spelling mistakes r a thing of the passed."

Eye don't no about ewe, butt aye don't like it two much!

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About Column Contributor

Ralph Schatzki

A proofreader, editor, author, math teacher and tutor, professional opera singer, ex-lawyer (by his own choice), sports fan, husband and father. He has lived on both American coasts, as well as in the southwest and midwest, and overseas in Thailand for more than thirteen years. He loves to read, write and perform, to watch sports, and to spend time with his family.
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