Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Your Homophone is Out of Order

Is your writing ringing in the ear of the reader?  Have you checked for mistakes with homophones?  Since texting and IMing have become so popular, this has become the most frequent mistake in writing.  It’s also become extremely common among bloggers.

Homophone--One of two or more words, such as night and knight, that are pronounced the same but differ in meaning, origin, and sometimes spelling.

Here are three of the mistakes with homophones that show up over and over:
1. Your vs. You’re
All it takes to avoid this error is to take a second and think about what you’re trying to say. “Your” is a possessive pronoun, as in “your car” or “your blog.” “You’re” is a contraction for “you are,” as in “you’re screwing up your writing by using your when you really mean you are.”

2. It’s vs. Its
This is another common mistake. It’s also easily avoided by thinking through what you’re trying to say.  “It’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” “Its” is a possessive pronoun, as in “this blog has lost its mojo.” Here’s an easy rule of thumb—repeat your sentence out loud using “it is” instead. If that sounds goofy or wrong, “its” is likely the correct choice.

3. There, They're, and Their

This one seems to trip up everyone occasionally, often as a pure typo. Make sure to watch for it when you proofread. “There” is used many ways, including as a reference to a place, “let’s go there” or as a pronoun, “there is no hope”. “Their” is a plural possessive pronoun, as in “their bags” or “their opinions.” Always do the “that’s ours!” test—are you talking about more than one person and something that they possess? If so, “their” will get you there.  "They're" is a contraction for “they are,” as in “they're going to answer the homophone."  :)

Help the reader by carefully editing.  Be sure the sounds out of your phone/blog are pleasant to the ear/eye.

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaysun/479031890/sizes/s/