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Grammar Issues

Homophones and Easily Confused Words

Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Here are some of the most commonly confused words:

1.Its & it’s

Its: a pronoun that refers to something it possesses  

            Example: Its fur is wet.

It’s:  a contraction for it is

            Example: It’s going to rain tonight.

2. Whose & who’s

Whose: a pronoun that refers to something who possesses

            Example: Whose bag is this?

Who’s: a contraction for who is

            Example: Who’s going to the store?

3. Your & you’re

Your: a pronoun that refers to something you possess.

            Example: Is that your car?

You’re: a contraction for you are

            Example: You’re going to the store.

4. There, their & they’re

There: an adverb that refers to a place

            Example:  I was there when the class began.

Their: a pronoun that refers to something they possess

            Example: It’s their car.

They’re: a contraction for they are

            Example: They’re going out.

5. Where, were & we’re

Where: an adverb that refers to location

            Example: Where are you going?

Were: a verb that is past tense of to be

            Example:  We were going to the store.

We’re: a contraction for we are

            Example: We’re going to the mall instead.

6. Two, too & to

Two: a word for the number 2

            Example: I have two dogs.

Too: an adverb that means excessively or also

            Examples: I have too many dogs

                              Do you want to go too?

To: a preposition or part of an infinitive (i.e., to rain, to run)

            Examples: Yuka walked to the store.

                              “To be or not to be: that is the question…”

7. Then & than

Then: an adverb that signifies at that time

            Example: What were you doing then?

Than: a conjunction that shows comparison.

            Example: It is hotter than boiling water in here. 

8. Quiet & quite

Quiet: an adjective that means silent

            Example: Let’s see how quiet we can be.

Quite: an adverb that means truly or entirely

            Example: I’m quite fed up with everything.

9. Loose & lose

Loose: an adjective that means free or not tight

            Examples: My zipper is loose.

Lose: a verb that means to misplace

            Example: I lose my keys every day.

10. Since & sense

Since: a conjunction similar in meaning to because

            Example: Since I went to the store for you, you owe me money.

Sense: a verb meaning to feel or perceive;
           or a noun that signifies the faculties with which we feel or perceive.

            Examples: I sense something is going on.

                              That numbs my senses.

11. Affect & effect

Affect: a verb that means to have an influence on

            Example:  His friends affect his decisions.

Effect: a noun that means result;

                 or a verb that means to bring about  

            Examples: The experiment had many effects.

                              His decision effected change.

12. Desert & dessert

Desert: a noun for a dry barren place

            Example: Cacti grow in the desert.

Dessert: a noun for sweet food at the end of a meal

            Example: I want a banana split for dessert.

13. Forth & fourth

Forth: an adverb for forward or onward

            Example: Go forth, young man!

Fourth: a noun or adjective indicating a position of 4 in a countable series.

            Example: He won the fourth place prize for the marathon.

14. Whether & weather

Whether: a pronoun or conjunction indicating alternative possibilities

            Example: Whether or not I go to college, I will have a job.

Weather: a noun referring to the state of the atmosphere     

            Example: The weather has been so rainy this week.

15. Threw, through & thorough

Threw: the past tense of throw

            Example: The man threw a stick to the dog.

Through: a preposition, adverb or adjective indicating movement or a state
              of completion

            Examples: I walked through the cafeteria.

                              The shirt was completely soaked through.

                              I am through with this exam.

Thorough: an adjective indicating completion or mastery

            Example: He did a thorough job completing the assignment.