March 01, 2005


Have you seen the cutesy ads for CNN? You know, the ones where Anderson Cooper reads the weather or Christiane Ampanpour lectures some clueless chick about Iran and Iraq? Yeah, I thought so. Anyway, if Christiane Ampanpour can have her "bugaboos" about pronouncing said respective countries as Eye-raq and Eye-ran, I can have my own bugaboo with one particular aspect of blogosphere grammar. And that bugaboo would be homonymns. You remember what homonyms are, right? Words that sound alike---they might even be spelled the same---but have different meanings. Well, these pesky little things are my bugaboos.

There are a lot of really great writers in the blogosphere, so it really grieves me when I see these itsy-bitsy boo-boos. Yet, I can't be too hard on my fellow bloggers. Posting isn't easy. I simply think most people are hampered by too little time to get a post up and forget all about it. Also, if they're using a grammar checker, well, that might lead to a few problems. I know for a fact that you cannot trust Microsquash Word's grammar checker when it comes to homonyms. I've lots of little green lines highlighting homonyms in the manuscript that I know are correct, but Microsquash---in its evil "I must be right all of the damn time" way---stubbornly insists that they're not. To put it simply: don't trust anybody's grammar checker to get it right.

Now, I'm not particularly picky about grammar in general, because I'll be the first to admit I suck at it. Grammar is not generally something I perfect the first time around. I have to edit, and even then I miss a good deal. So, split an infinitive for all I care. Dangle that participle. Let your agreement disagree. I don't really care. What I do care about, what stops me dead in my tracks and makes me sigh (particularly when I'm reading a great essay) is when someone confuses simple homonyms. It drives me insane!

So, since we know everyone and their brother is concerned about my sanity, well, let's go over some that I see on a regular basis.

  • They're/Their/There

  • "They're" is a contraction for "they are"
    "Their" is a possessive pronoun
    "There" is a place or position

  • You're/Your

  • "You're" is a contraction of "you are"
    "Your" is the possessive form of "you"

  • Loose/Lose

  • "Loose" is an adjective that means "free, not securely attached."
    "Lose" is a verb that means "to fail to keep, to be deprived of."

  • Whose/Who's

  • "Whose" is the possessive form of "who"
    "Who's" is a contraction for "who is"

  • Affect/Effect

  • "Affect" is a verb that means to "exert influence"
    "Effect" as a verb means "to accomplish"; as a noun it means "a result."

Ok, so now that I have successfully pissed off plenty of bloggers by criticizing their writing, feel free to use the comments to add your own grammar bugaboos. My ass is wide enough to provide a target for all the ire that will undoubtedly come my way. I'll shield you.

Posted by Kathy at March 1, 2005 11:46 PM

Your totally, write, of course. When I see bloggers making these mistakes I can't help but think, "Gee, their such a buncha loosers!" Then again, it's probably just an example of the affects of today's education system so whose to say there too blame, huh?


Posted by: zonker at March 2, 2005 06:22 PM



Posted by: Kathy at March 2, 2005 06:28 PM

Baited breath (gee, I've just been eating minnows!); hoards of people (you never know when you might run out!). Here! Here! (not there! not there!).... meh, that's all for now.

Posted by: Adrianne Truett at March 2, 2005 09:17 PM

And it frustrates me that at least some editions of MS Word are of the opinion that "effect" cannot be a verb and "it's" can never have an apostrophe.

Posted by: Adrianne Truett at March 2, 2005 09:18 PM

Not sure if it counts as a homonym, but the it's/its misuse really peeves me too ("it's" is NOT the possessive of "it," "its" is. "It's" is a contraction of "it is"). Grr.

That was fun to type, with all those little 2-and-3-point Scrabble words.

Posted by: JohnL at March 3, 2005 12:55 PM

How about (not exactly homonyms) --

1) envelop vs. envelope
2) breath vs. breathe
3) taut vs. taunt (aaaaaagh!)

Oh, and I know there are some more -several more! - but I can't think of them now!

Posted by: Romeocat at March 3, 2005 10:04 PM

Just think how much worse it would be if the agrammatical didn't have MS Grammar Check to begin with!

And how much easier your own life will be when you go into the Options menu and turn the fricking Grammar Check-thing off entirely.

Posted by: John at March 3, 2005 10:27 PM

I am a great sinner in this respect...

To totally change the topic though: I always used the word "homonym" the way you have used it here. I remember reciting definitions while I was in third grade or so to the effect, "sounds alike but spelled different."

Then I went to TOESL hell to teach something I'm not exactly good at abroad. Let's not stroll down that memory lane, but they said that "homonym" means a word that has the same spelling, but a different meaning. "homophone" was the word I was defining.

I had never heard that before and made kind of an ass out of myself arguing this point. So now I am confused. OR is this another damn British English/American English thing

Posted by: Jedno at March 7, 2005 12:39 PM
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