Today, let’s talk about . . .
Huh? Sounds like grammar. <Pause here for groans>
Yes! Creative writing is a LOT more fun than grammar drills, but if you intend to submit your writing for publication, Rule #1 is that it must be “clean”–properly punctuated with no misspellings or inappropriate word choices.
You want the editor to see that you are skilled and professional, but homonyms are a frequent stumbling block in the path to publication.
In the English language it is easy to misuse, misspell, or otherwise confuse words. One reason for confusion is that some spoken words sound identical though they are spelled differently. These are called homonyms or homophones. Since they sound the same, they are often misused. Many contractions are examples of homonyms that can be tricky. A contraction is a word formed from two or more words by omitting or combining some sounds. An apostrophe is usually inserted at the point of omission. Let’s focus on contractions today. We’ll talk about other problem homonyms in my next lesson.
You’re / Your
You’re = the contraction of “you are”
“Your” is a possessive pronoun.
Example: Your dog ate your homework. You’re in trouble.
It’s / Its
It’s = the contraction of “it is”
Its is a possessive pronoun.
Example: If you encounter a bear, it’s unwise to pull its tail.
They’re / Their / There
They’re = the contraction of “they are”
Their is a plural possessive.
There is an adverb.
Example: They’re hoping their enemy is no longer there.
I’ll / Aisle / Isle
I’ll = the contraction of “I will”
An aisle is a walkway.
An isle is an island.
Example: Of her plans to be married in Hawaii, the bride said, “I’ll walk the aisle on a tropical isle.”
Who’s / Whose
Who’s = the contraction of “who is”
Whose is a possessive pronoun (“belonging to whom”)
Example: Who’s the contestant whose score was disqualified?
He’ll / Heal / Heel / Hill
He’ll = the contraction of “he will”
A hill is smaller than a mountain (Regional pronunciation)
A heel is a rogue or the hind part of a foot
To heal is to make well
Example: He’ll climb the hill when his heel has healed.
You might want to bookmark this site for future reference. You could also search for other helpful links about homonyms and homophones.
- It’s time to write a sentence using each word I’ve listed in its proper context.
- If contractions and homonyms are a particular problem for you, make a reference list on an index card and keep it handy as you write.