Muddled? You could be when you listen to these words

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 22nd Dec 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Satire

How sure are you of the shore, or seeing the sea? Well a bare bear is something to contemplate as is a boy with a buoy bobbing up and down in the sea. Truth is there are some amazing words available to us and we should use them wisely and these homophones will allow you to make rhyme, poetry in motion, perform humour and do so much more.

Are you Sure you're at the Shore?

That sounds the same but is it correct? This certainly seems to be a question we should ask when using certain words.

Many years ago when my son started to write he used the phrase "he was not shore which way to go" when he should have used the word "sure" otherwise he could have "been walking down the sea sure" in this context it is important to use the right word in the right place and part of the problem here is the fact that the words "sure" and "shore" sound the same but have entirely different meanings:

  • Sure - when you are certain about the outcome
  • Shore - the boundary between the land and the sea

Words that sound the same but are spelt differently and have different meanings are called homonyms and they can make how we use words very interesting to listen to and can certainly make us think, and while we are thinking about things nautical let's continue this adventure. To see the sea for some is the wonder of a lifetime, but for some the sea is the journey of life. Going on a journey to see the sea is the right thing to do, two weeks may seem a long time, but it is best not to stay too long. Also we should note the humble letter "c" that is pronounced exactly the same way but is not used in either word.

While we are on things nautical the boats we make must have good sealing to keep the water our and our family living room has a ceiling to help it look good but a ceiling is not normally sealed, yet the roof, walls, and basements require sealing to ensure we keep the elements out of our house, keeping it dry and warm inside, most especially our bathrooms need sealing because of the water we use to keep us clean, without sealing the ceiling below will become mucky and smell, so knowing the difference between our ceiling and the sealing is a very good thing.

There Their

The English language has many words like this even basic words such as "their" and "there" which are frequently muddled up even by people that have been using the language since childhood, and just to be clear about this pairing, let's define them:

  • Their is something that belongs more than one person.
  • There has a few meanings but is primarily a place or experience.

Some people also muddle they're with these words but this should not be a point of confusion because it is a derived from "they are" and does not really sound the same unless you are being very sloppy with pronunciation.

"Morocco is an interesting place and the Morrison family decided to go there for their vacation" is a sentence where both of these words are used together and it is vital to get them the right way around when using them in the same phrase. I have to admit that I was recently reviewing some of my own articles in order to include them in a book and noticed that I had made an error using the wrong their, or was it there somewhere here or there which shows that it is all too easy slip with this pairing especially with the multiple meanings for "there" but their, there we should pat ourselves on the back when we get it right.

These words described just here are called homophones that is they are different words with different meanings that sound the same and they can become a great source of amusement because they are the starting point for puns, humour and jokes.

The Bare Bears

Yogi and Baloo would be proud of this one:

    Bears live by the bare necessities of life.

A bear is the animal, and we are bare naked when taking a shower certainly not words to mix up because the bear in the shower could wreak havoc and being bare in the animal enclosure is not something you want to even think about. Yogi wears clothes and couldn't bear to be bare, while Baloo does not wear clothes but he never bares all.

Bear and bare also have alternative meanings that can confuse we know Jesus certainly had his cross to bear, and Patten had to bear arms, but aunt Jane comes around at Christmas time bearing gifts, bare means simple and straightforward, something that is exposed to view, the barest minimum, lacking in refinement, just sufficient, but in other usages (some slang) it means a large amount of something and that had to happen. With all of this we have to ask what are the bare necessities of being a bear?

Hares have fur, but they are not especially hairy, yet we don't want to go to the hairdresser to get your hare cut this would please neither the hairdresser nor the hare, and the animal rights people would have something to say, so it is best not to confuse the hare with your hair.

You should know the difference between the ewe and a yew, one baas while the other stands proud majestic on its spot of land underneath which the ewe, the lady of the sheep family, may chew on her grass one sunny afternoon.

The are the air or the ear

A pair of pears is simply delightful because a pair means there are two and the fruit lover will take delight in having an extra pear.

"The fare to the fair was simply too high" moaned Joanna as she got off the bus. She was now at the fairgrounds and to address her concerns the bus driver told her that all was fair concerning the fare. It has been said that all is fair in love and war but it isn't fair when you are mistreated, because we do wish to live in a fair and just society.

We have children born dark and fair, which usually refers to the colour of their hair, but the same could, tactfully, be said about skin colour e.g. you are darker than I am which may simply be a comment about how well tanned you are.

All right?

Going in the right direction may not give you enough imagination to write about it, but will you be able to gain the rite of passage? Maybe some day.

Right means correct so we may be right or wrong which is never spelt "rong", but also half of your body is on the right hand side. There are many rites and rituals, but not all are religious, but then there is the rite of passage but none should be confused with your rights as a human being, the Bill of Rights, or the Charter of Human Rights, and sometimes it is advisable to to use that right to stay silent, yet other times you are right to protest.

To write is a whole different matter because unlike either "rite" or "right" this word commences with a "w", but because of its association with "r" it acts to strengthen this sound. The homophones that start with different letters are very interesting because they bring a whole new dynamic to wordplay which adds another dimension to how we can use language. Which write is rite to right about? What a nonsensical question because of deliberately selecting the wrong word, yet verbally who would know the difference?

Our Hours

The hours go ticking by but it is up to us how we use our time. This is very much a case of a silent "h" because verbally there is no "h" in hour, making it identical to "our". My father, Harry, was certainly one for dropping the "h" because there was never one he could find a use for. It is true that in building our success though we must use our time wisely and not while away the hours because each hour is precious.

Whatever we say it is true that time ticks away, but a tick is an insect that eats into an animal's skin, but that is a different type of word, a homonyms or homographs where multiple definitions exist for the same word.

For some people having time allows them to watch their favourite serial on television, whist also snacking with their favourite cereal at hand, a visual and taste wonder to be sure, but hardly a thing you would do near the shore. There are many cereals and series and there is perhaps the subtle difference because the plural breaks the normal rules.

Being Bolder

Allowed and aloud are very different but sound so alike, we say it aloud when we are allowed one is about volume while the other is about permission, but I need no permission to do anything aloud, but thinking about it we rarely use aloud any-more because out loud has generally taken its place, because the teacher may say "Johnny it's your turn to read out loud".

Once you have eaten you have ate and that doesn't matter whether you are eight or nine, or even eighty nine. You don't say you have eight when you are full and neither do you count ate apples for your friends to chew.

How bold are you? Perhaps a coward like the lion in the Wizard of Oz, or perhaps just a little bolder, but do not confuse that with the boulder that either the coward or bold man can trip on. The boulder is bold in standing out proud from the ground, yet it is no bolder because that is its natural state just lying there in the way, but you should always look out in case you trip over. If it is bolder then perhaps it is clearer or a least emphasised so that it stands out.

But before we leave boldness let us consider the problem of bald and bold. The bald man may be bold and show his bare shiny head or he may hide it under a wig, but is he bold if he is bald or just deficient in genes?

The boy

If the boy is bobbing up and down in the water next to the buoy then we should be concerned and send help, but a buoy is no boy because it was placed there with safety in mind it floats on the water warning that some danger lurks nearby, yet on a street corner the little boy, Jimmy, often lurks nearby and is usually up-to enough mischief that could sink a ship, perhaps throwing something at an unsuspecting stranger passing by.

What he threw can make you wonder, but threw and through they are not the same, for the first you must understand the past tense of throw, in that he throws (now) but he threw the ball yesterday, which bears only a small relationship to through which can be the journey you go through or the action of going through the door, it could also be said that Jimmy went through the action of throwing when he threw the ball.

It could be said that Jimmy is no knight, yet as he grew older and a little bolder he could and one night be the hero who saves the damsel in distress. Being a knight is a station of chivalry and it is said that only the brave need apply, it could be said that a soldier is a modern day knight but the knights of old did their fighting by day, but by night perhaps they were ready to assist the young damsel in distress.

Smelly money

Our next pairing is interesting because you never want to be missed in the mist for being missed is sad for all and as they say the mist conceals all as the mist swirls and swirls to hide your location, walk in a straight line and it jingles you up don't let yourself be missed in the mist.

But your scent may be enough that a bloodhound can be sent into the mist to find you, but a large rescue mission may cost more than a few cents, so it is necessary to distinguish being sent from the scent that may linger, but remember it all has a cost in terms of the cents that have to be spent.

When talking of monetary value, we count that in cash, but remember the suspicious rich man may also be said to have a cache of cash, whereas the bandit may well have a cache of weapons, but a computer has a cache of memory to use for its calculations. The cache is a stash of something that cash can sometimes buy and Caché is a scent that will cost more that a few cents to procure.

One to end with

It is assumed that simply you wear number one that you have won, but that would be a foolish assumption because to win you must put in the effort. Wearing number one may mean that you are seen as the best but that counts for nothing at the next competition you have to put in the effort to ensure at the end of the day you have won.

Playing with homophones has been a wonderful journey and I hope you have learned something because I certainly have had to wax poetical to make some of the words fit, words can be fun and can give us much means to play with verbalisations, with them will help the comedians, the poets, the wordsmiths, the writers, the advertisers, it could be said we need our words to have fun, even rock stars are in this game to distinguish Styx from sticks and stones.

...and to close any of the following articles, each published by Peter Giblett and may be of interest to you:

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Bare, Bear, Hair, Hare, Homophone, Homophones, Humour, Jokes, Poetry, Right, Rite, Shore, Sure, Their, There, Write

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
23rd Dec 2013 (#)

Tricky words for sure, also they're

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author avatar spirited
23rd Dec 2013 (#)

Very good, words are tricky, and in English the pronunciation/or sound of the word, does not often help much either.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
23rd Dec 2013 (#)

Darn, no verse. (Just kidding. I'd like to think that's my territory.)
I am working on another one. We'll see if I have the gumption to finish it and the others I've half-done between now and NYE.
But for a homophonic lesson, this one is pretty good. Chock full of humor and carefully detailed explanations.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
23rd Dec 2013 (#)

Phyl, this is a tough area to write about as here are so many subtleties to get right, certainly something requiring thought rather than speed, each word checked a multitude of times, just to see it plucks the right tone.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
23rd Dec 2013 (#)

Interesting post and Happy Christmas my Friend!

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author avatar Ptrikha
23rd Dec 2013 (#)

Well written and amazing as to so different words sound so similar. You write in a manner that is simple and makes it fast to understand.

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author avatar Ptrikha
23rd Dec 2013 (#)

I get very confused when using practice and practise.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
23rd Dec 2013 (#)

so interesting and yes well written this but you do know your p's and qu's dear Peter...happy holidays...

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
23rd Dec 2013 (#)

I love to teach my foreign friends homophones and make up sentences around the words Peter . We have such a rich variety of words ...It amazes me how few are used nowadays .
Bless you and yours with a very Happy Christmas .
Stella >I<

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author avatar Mariah
24th Dec 2013 (#)

Very cleverly done Peter...impressively written

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
24th Dec 2013 (#)

Interesting and useful tips, Peter. One need to pause at times like "bear with me" when we think of the big bear! "Bare with me" though a mistake can be misunderstood! Also as pointed out by Ptrikha in his comments above - the confusion created by different usage norms - "practice" is a noun and and verb in American usage while practice is noun and practise is verb in UK - siva

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author avatar Ptrikha
24th Dec 2013 (#)

yes Siva, as of now, I do not care much about Practice and Practise and in fact, use more of "Practice" :)

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author avatar Virendra Singh Bhanu
21st Mar 2014 (#)

Thanks for sharing, love them! I think you should add your favorite words to

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