Write Them Right. The Truth about Homophones.

What are homophones, you ask? They are words that sound alike but have different meanings and are spelled differently.

Few things stab a reader between the eyes like a misplaced homophone. Homophones are words that you have to train your brain for, because spellcheck will always think they’re fine. Because they are.

But they’re not. They’re very much not.

Now, I know y’all know the easy ones. Your mind will tell you when you’ve typed “knew” when you meant “new.”  The too, two, and to trio are also pretty simple to spot. Sometimes, we just type the wrong one.

But we don’t always know for sure, right?

One such uncertain homophonic trio that I see rather too much of, online, is the their, they’re, there group.

Their:  This is a possessive pronoun. Used as an adjective to describe ownership. This is their website. That is their house.  Their office hours are nine to six.

There:  This is a word often used to show a place and/or distance.  The phone is over there on the table.  I’m never going to make it there.  It’s also used like this:  There’s a light in the window.  This is to tell the place, but it can be used with indeterminate objects as well.

They’re:  This is a contraction for the words “they are.” If “they are” is not the meaning you’re going for in the sentence, this is not the proper form of the word to use.  They’re leaving on Monday.  They’re buying a new house. I don’t know if they’re on vacation.

And of course, the deadly group of peek, peak, and pique.

Here, I really believe that many fine writers just don’t know what words mean when they use them erroneously.

Peek:  See the two “e”s? Think of them as eyes. “Eyes” has two “e”s as well, right?  This is the word that has to do with seeing something.  Taking a peek into a room. Having a peek at the test. That kind of thing.

Peak:  This is the pinnacle of something.  The peak of a mountain.  The peak of her career. The peak of one’s energy.

and lastly…

Pique:  As a noun, it is a feeling of irritation or resentment.  You’ve heard of the alternate title for the Grapes of Wrath? It’s the Prunes of Pique.  Get it?  As a verb, it generally means to stimulate interest.  He piqued my curiosity with the mask.  My interest was piqued by the first paragraph.  I’m trying to pique your interest, dammit!

Another pairing of homophones that is sometimes goofed online is navel and naval.

Navel:  This has to do with one’s bellybutton, usually.  Sometimes, it can refer to the central point or middle of any thing or place.  He has a navel fetish. She has a navel piercing.  We prefer navel oranges. 

Naval: This has to do with ships. Warships or peacetime. It also concerns an actual Navy. I study English naval battles. The main employer here is the naval industry.

In short, there are many homophones that are frequently confused for one another.  They should have name tags, but that’s not an option when one is writing, so you really just have to learn them.  For a more comprehensive listing of these tricky words, I refer you to, of course, a website:  http://www.homophone.com.

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LJ Summers is an experienced editor and a writer. With degrees in English and Ministry/Theology, she likes to consider herself a good student.  She believes strongly that good solid research combined with an active imagination will yield a great story. Her interests span the spectrum from ancient battle techniques of European Celts to modern internet phenomena. She welcomes visitors to her website: http://sandyquill.com

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The Queens of Trivia and Thank You For Playing

This is it. The 30 days are up, and all the points have been counted. We know we have said this a million times before, but we have truly enjoyed hosting this trivia game.  We have learned a lot during the last month, and, more importantly, we have watched our followers learn as well. Some questions resulted in essay answers that have been highly amusing to read.

Who knows, maybe we’ll do this again one day, but for now, we need to focus on bigger and better things. We have something very exciting coming up in May, but you will have to stay tuned to find out what that very secret thing is.

Until then, let’s wrap up this game of trivia. First, the last five questions and answers:

Answers and Bonus Points

In case you are interested, here is the list of the second batch of questions and the answers we awarded points to:

#56 Correct the mistake: Has she wrote you back? (1 pt)

One point for changing “wrote” to “written.”

#57 Dialogue tags and action tags are otherwise known as… (2 pts)

Two points for naming attributions and beats. One point if only one was given.

#58 Who was the first kid to find a golden ticket to the chocolate factory in the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl? (1 pt)

One point for Augustus Gloop. Bonus point for extra information on the character of Augustus.

#59 Correct the mistake: She said, “you are not alone.” (1 pt)

One point for changing the y to a capital letter.

#60 What do restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses mean to the placement of commas? (2 pts)

Two points for saying that nonrestrictive clauses require commas before and/or after it, and restrictive clauses do not.

BQ#4 Name all three Brontë sisters (3 pts)

Three points for naming Charlotte, Anne, and Emily. A bonus point for mentioning the other children of that family: Mary, Elizabeth (both of which died at early age) and Patrick.

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For better explanations for answers, check out the trivia site, EBStrivia.tumblr.com, and read the Answer posts. If you would like any of the answers to be explained more fully, please feel free to suggest for us to do so by commenting on this post or contacting the admins.

Scoreboard

The top three have been removed from this list. They get their own spotlight.

Kathy – 40 points

Melissa – 34.5 points

Ale – 34 points

Iris – 22 points

Daphodill – 6 points

Amanda K – 4 points

Idealskeptic – 4 points

Katie Cav – 2 points

Kat and Crystal – 1 point each

The Queens of Trivia

Third place goes to Ooza, who had 41 points at the end of the game.

Second place goes to LisbethTejada, who had racked up 83 points in the end.

3rd_Ooza 2nd_LisbethTejada

Anna earned her first place with whooping 91 points!

Anna earned her first place with whooping 91 points!

Fun fact: the total points available in this game, including bonus questions, were 91. Many questions also allowed for bonus points to be awarded, so participants could have ended up with 100 points or more. Many times we were compelled to award bonus points, especially to these top three ladies, who often provided detailed responses or hilarious commentary.

That’s It, and Thank You All For Playing!

30 Days of Trivia, Fourth Roundup

The 30 Days of Trivia is coming to an end, but there are still a few more questions left to answer. As this is the case, we have decided not to publish the scoreboard this week, but instead wait until later this week when we post the final results.

However, we still have lots of questions to review from the last week. So, without further ado, here are the answers and bonus points from the fourth round:

Answers and Bonus Points

In case you are interested, here is the list of the second batch of questions and the answers we awarded points to:

#42 Why is the name “preposition” no longer accurate for words like “for,” “to,” “up,” etc.? (1 pt)

One point for mentioning that these prepositions are no longer required to be positions before (or “pre”) the word or phrase it modifies. A bonus point was awarded for a good explanation.

#43 He was an Oxford scholar, an English professor, and a member of the Inklings. Born in South Africa, he was highly influenced by religion in his writings. (1 pt)

One point for J. R. R. Tolkien.

#44 Correct the mistake: Who are you sending this to? (1 pt)

We gave right for “Whom are you sending this to” and “To whom are you sending this.” Bonus point for providing both examples.

#45 When a verb is said to be strong, what does that mean? (1 pt)

One point for saying that the verb gets irregular endings in the past tense, usually by changing a vowel sound. A bonus point was awarded for a very funny explanation.

#46 How many books are in the trilogy The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (1 pt)

One point for five.

#47 Correct the mistake: The Joneses have brown eye’s. (1 pt)

One point for changing “eye’s” to “eyes.”

#48 “Anthology” is a word derived from the Greek word “anthologie,” which means what?

One point for “a bouquet of flowers” or any variant of that.

#49 “Why is the raven like a writing desk?” Where is that question from, and what was the reply? (2 pts)

Two points for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and “I haven’t the slightest idea.” Bonus point for mentioning some of the possible answers Carroll provided.

#50 Correct the mistake: The dog’s are all neutered. (1 pt)

One point for changing “dog’s” to “dogs.”

#51 Where would you put the modifier “only” in the sentence, “Cecilia dances when she is drunk,” if you mean that Cecilia alone dances while others are sober? (1 pt)

No one got this right. “Only” should be placed before “she.”

#52 On what date did Stephenie Meyer have the dream that lead her to write Twilight? (1 pt)

One point for June 2, 2003. Bonus point for correcting the question and replacing “lead” with “led,” and for mentioning that after that dream she drafted what would become chapter 13 of Twilight.

#53 Correct the mistake: I’m going to lay down for a quick nap. (1 pt)

One point for changing “lay” to “lie.”

#54 The sentence, “Ringing in the distance, Mike needed to answer the phone,” is an example of what? (1 pt)

One point for saying it’s an example of a misplaced modifier.

#55 She is the main character of a famous novel first published in 1813. The second of five daughters, she’s intelligent, pretty and witty. She also tends to judge people before getting to know them. She married one of the wealthiest men in the country and lived happily ever after. Name this fictional character and the novel. (2 pts)

Two points for Elizabeth Bennet and Pride and Prejudice.

BQ#3 This American writer is considered to be an inventor of this sub-genre of criminal genre and is best known for his macabre stories. Name the writer, the sub-genre and any story written by him (3 pts)

Three points for naming Edgar Allan Poe, detective fiction, and any of his stories (The Black Cat, The Mask of the Red Death, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, etc.).

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For better explanations for answers, check out the trivia site, EBStrivia.tumblr.com, and read the Answer posts. If you would like any of the answers to be explained more fully, please feel free to suggest for us to do so by commenting on this post or contacting the admins.

Bonus Question!

This one should be easy…

BQ#4 Name all three Brontë sisters (3 pts)

Answers should be submitted using the usual methods (click here). Please identify the question number as BQ#4.

The answer will be revealed at the next roundup, so everyone is free to submit an answer until then.

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