You’ve got a lot of bases to cover when it comes to spelling! You need to memorize rules that will help you remember whether there’s one M or two in the word committee (two), whether you need more than just an S to make a word plural (yes, quite often), and how to avoid making spelling errors with easily-confused words. Since one of the best ways to remember something is to repeat it, it’s useful to spend some time going over things that cause spelling problems, even if it’s just for review. Each time you review a list of words or rules, you’ll create a firmer foundation for the knowledge and stronger links that will help you remember those words in the future. Today, let’s look at three categories of words that create difficulties in spelling: homophones, homonyms, and homographs.
Homophones are words that have different spelling but the same pronunciation. This category of words is tricky if you’re only speaking and listening to the sound of the word, but when you see them written out the words are generally quite different. Getting good at using the right spelling for the right word is really just a matter of getting familiar with the words and how they’re used. Here are some examples of homophones:
aloud / allowed
flour / flower
martial / marshal
thrown / throne
When it comes to homonyms, you might think you’ve solved all your problems! These words have the same spelling and pronunciation, but different meanings. Because the words are identical in appearance and sound, you won’t have to worry about remembering two spellings, but you will have to remember which definition of the word you’re concerned with.
long (in length) / long (to wish for)
bear (the animal) / bear (a burden)
quail (the word) / quail (shrink back)
Homographs have the same spelling, but different pronunciation. Here’s where problems start again, because in this category you’ll find many confusing words, simply because of the way they sound. It’s not logical to have two identically-spelled words sound and mean different things, but there you are, it’s not logical – it’s English! Check out these examples of homographs, and practice saying them out loud.
wind (the movement of air) is pronounced with an IH sound
the verb wind (to wind up a clock) is pronounced with an EYE sound
lead (a soft metal) is pronounced with an EH sound
the verb lead (to go ahead of, to direct) is pronounced with an EE sound