What are homophones – and why do people have so many problems with them?
If you’ve forgotten all those lessons Mrs. Whackruler taught you back in Grade 5 grammar class, I’m here to simplify your life. Homophones are just the fancy schmancy name for words that sound the same but have a different meaning and/or spelling (it’s/its, they’re/their/there, etc.).
Maybe you’re someone who never has a problem deciding which homophone to use. If that’s true, you must be in the minority, because I see these darned things spelled incorrectly almost every day.
Or maybe spelling isn’t really a big deal in your life, especially if most of your conversations involve versions of “lol” and “wtf.” That’s cool.
However, if you’re someone who’d prefer to get the spelling right (writing a blog, sending an important email, creating a 50 foot billboard that’s going to be seen by a million people), I’m going to help make your life a little easier with some easy ways to remember the trickiest, most-often confused homophones.
First up, the ever-popular “its” and “it’s.”
This one is dead simple. “It’s” is a contraction of “it is.” That’s the only time you use it. If you can’t replace “it’s” with “it is,” you’re using the wrong one.
For example, “The dog scratched its fleas,” cannot be replaced with “The dog scratched it is fleas,” so there’s no apostrophe.
If you’re not using the contracted version, you want to use “its” in every other situation. That’s all there is to it.
“It’s” versus “its” – It’s a no-brainer that its use is ever a problem!
Which homophones do you have the most problems with? Let me know and, in future posts, I’ll try to come up with some easy ways to help you remember the right ones to use. Or maybe you have a simple memory trick to remember some tricky homophones yourself? I hope you’ll share them with my readers and me – we could all use the help!