Good morning, class. When last we addressed this topic, some of you may have been napping. Don’t be dismayed. I am happy to take time for review.
As you are aware, the English language is fraught with words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings. In my previous lecture, a few of the sound-alike word pairs we discussed were:
slew / slue
stationary / stationery
mantle / mantel
all ready / already
dessert / desert
Your first assignment, therefore, is to write once sentence for each word pair, using each word correctly in context. I’ll start you off with an example:
Sally slued into a slew of slippers.
(Notice how I slipped in some alliteration.) Or you might prefer a sentence using slew as the past tense of slay. As the cliché goes, whatever floats your boat.
So let’s be creative, students! Show me your best work.
All done? Good. Today we’ll add a few more of these sound-alike word pairs to our repertoire. And, as you were duly warned, GQ has come prepared with a pop quiz. Please circle the correct word from the pairs in each of the following sentences:
- Audra was pleased to accept / except the award for her outstanding novel.
- Cara enjoyed having her family all together / altogether for a festive holiday meal.
- Debby’s principle / principal inspiration for writing military suspense is her family’s military background.
- Glynna hopes there / their won’t be any flight delays during her upcoming trip.
- Janet spent more time then / than her friends exploring the San Antonio Riverwalk last July.
- Julie wondered whose / who’s historical romance to read next.
- Mary and her Cowboy knelt at the alter / altar to renew their wedding vows.
- Missy will counsel / council beginning writers on single point of view.
- Myra is loath / loathe to admit how much she adores Grammar Queen.
- Pam refrains from writing grisly / grizzly scenes of madness and mayhem.
- Ruthy keeps a horde / hoard of children in her new family room.
- Sandra is a sight / site / cite to see when she plays pickleball!
- Tina created a poll / pole to select images for her next book cover.
Ah, so many word pairs, so little time. The list could go on and on. For extra credit, feel free to try your hand with these:
board / bored
break / brake
fare / fair
fourth / forth
grate / great
here / hear
led / lead
passed / past
pedal / peddle
peace / piece
through / threw
Which homophones (yes, students, that is the correct term for words that sound alike but have different meanings) are your biggest bugaboos? Remember, your word processing spell-check will not help you here, so it remains up to you to make sure you always use the right word.
Dears, read my lips.
The dictionary is your friend.
Grammar Queen isn’t exactly a figment of Seeker Myra Johnson’s imagination, but sometimes Myra would like to keep her there. Hard to relax and enjoy something as simple as reading the morning paper with GQ looking over your shoulder and nitpicking every sentence! GQ would have you believe she’s a writer’s best friend . . . and perhaps at times she is (but don’t tell her we said so!).
So, in honor of GQ’s return to Seekerville today, Myra is giving away a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print, by Renni Browne and Dave King. Winner’s choice of paperback (U.S. residents only) or Kindle version. Just add ENTER ME to your comment to be included in the drawing.
Pop quiz answers:
1. accept 2. all together 3. principal 4. there 5. than 6. whose 7. altar 8. counsel 9. loath 10. grisly 11. horde 12. sight 13. poll
For more about Myra Johnson, visit her website at www.MyraJohnson.com. You can also click here to subscribe to Myra's e-news updates.