Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Editorial Tip of the Week: Homophones

In order to ensure that your word usage doesn't affect the overall effect you want your book to have on your readers, we'd like to pique your interest by giving you a small peek at some of the commonly confused homophones in the English language. (Homophones are words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings.)

aisle; isle
The cake mix at the grocery store is on aisle 7. Gilligan and his friends were stranded on an isle.

allude; elude
Are you alluding (referring) to the time you tried to elude (avoid) getting caught?

capital; capitol
If you visit Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah, make sure to stop by the capitol, which is just a few blocks away from Temple Square. (By the way, the word capital has a few other definitions, but capitol does not. Only capitalize capitol if you are referring to the U.S. Capitol.)

compliment; complement
It's quite a compliment that you think my husband and I complement each other so well.

elicit; illicit
The teacher tried to elicit responses from her students when she asked who was at the school Saturday night; she was suspicious that some of them were involved in illicit (illegal) activities.

ensure; insure
If you want to ensure that your care will be insured, you'd better pay your bill on time.

foreword; forward
Once you read the foreword of a book, you can go forward with your reading. (FYI, a foreword is written by someone other than the author; a preface is written by the author.)

prophesy; prophecy
Lehi prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed; his prophecy was fulfilled after he and his family fled.

Of course, this list is just the beginning. To see a more complete list of homophones (and other commonly confused words), refer to Chicago 5.198.


Christine Thackeray said...

Thank ewe for the grate revue. I'm shore it will help us awl.

Marcia Mickelson said...

Thanks for posting those. Compliment and complement seem to get mixed up a lot in things I've read. It drives me crazy.