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Teacher/Instructor Katie Aquino
Katie Aquino

Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University

Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.

Homophones are words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings. There are no particular tricks to identify homophones, except memorization. Common sets of homophones include accept/except, affect/effect, then/than and there/their/they're.

Let's talk about homophones. These are some small words but often the ones that provide the most stumbling blocks for my students. What a homophone is, and it's understandable that it could be confusing is; a set of words that sounds a like but it's spelt differently and it means different things. So the trick to really remembering these homophone unfortunately is just to remember them. Just to work on memorizing them think about them... so let's just walk through them walk through the first four or five together with you, talk of it to you. The other ones we'll review because I know my students still stumble upon those as well.
So the first one let's talk about is 'accept' and 'except' alright accept is a verb okay, it's something that you do, I accept you, 'I accept your apology.' 'Except' is a preposition... here so it's used to leave things out. I want everything except that one. Alright so there's a difference there. 'Affect' and 'effect' I would say this is probably the number one error I see and again affect with an 'a' is a verb, alright you can affect somebody's life. 'Effect' with an 'e' is a noun alright, it's a the side effect of a medication.
I can tell you the one thing that pops to my head everytime I have to remember this is I think about things that I've seen on work sheets in classes and any time I see something that says 'cause an effect' I remember it's cause and effect which reminds me because 'cause' is a noun, effect is a noun and then I can tell affect is verb. So that's just some couple of ways to remember those confusing ones. Another big one 'then' and 'than' and these get mixed up all the time. So one thing to remember about 'then' is 'then' is always an indication of time. I went to the store then I went home and cooked dinner, alright 'than' is a comparison. He's taller than I am. So then is always time, than is to compare two or more things. alright. 'Their' 'there' and 'they're' let's talk about those because these get mixed up a lot as well and it's confusing because of this apostrophe right here.
Now typically we are ingrained to think that apostrophe equals possession however in this case, this apostrophe only equals a contraction which means... it means 'they are' so you just have to train yourself any time you see they're with an apostrophe you know that you've got to split it apart to two words. Then 'their' t.h.e.i.r is the possessive and 'there' t.h.e.r.e is actually a location or place alright.

So those are really some of the more difficult ones but let's talk about the other ones just to kind of refresh your memory, you may know these but bear with me. loose and lose, so loose is an adjective, it describes like 'my belt is loose' that's a good thing right? But lose is a verb, I don't want to lose the game tonight. Then we have hear and here, hear h.e.a.r is what you can hear, you can hear something with your ear that tends to be how I remember that, hear and ear and then h.e.r.e is a location, it's a place.
Moving over here we've got 'to' 'two' and 'too' and this is how I remember is the 'too' I want to focus on. Too here with 2 0's and this is how I remember it is too much so it's one of those modifiers so you've got 'too' many so you use it to express something like I had too much to eat tonight alright. T.w.o is the number 2 and then 'to' here can be used as a preposition or an infinitive part of a verb. 'Whether' and 'weather' alright, this is easy to remember here because weather without the 'h' is like the weather outside, like the weather channel. It's spelt that way that's one of the ways I remember it. Whether up here is one of the those conjunctions that you are going to use. So these is an object and this is a connector word and then finally, another contraction issue 'your' and 'you're' and again, understandable 'cause you have got that silly little apostrophe there but you've got to train yourself when you see it with you're split that word into you are and fight that urge to make it a possessive instead 'your' with no apostrophe is the possessive.
So hopefully these cleared up some commonly mistaken words for you and you can find yourself coming up with some memory tricks to remember them.