The English language is filled with homonyms – words that are pronounced the same way but spelled differently and mean different things.
Often writers use an incorrect word, and not all grammar checking programs or even proofreader catch all the mistakes.
Here are some examples using the correct word and then followed by the often misused word and the definitions of the two.
Harold’s face twitched with a nervous tic.
tic – a periodic spasm
tick – a small bloodsucking arachnid or perhaps the sharp, recurring click (as of a clock)
The wording piqued my interest.
Pique – aroused or excited
Peaked – to be at the maximum (interest has peaked, and will probably soon decline)
Two vases of flowers stood on either side of the altar.
Altar -the structure in a place of worship
Alter – to change something
She wore a two carat diamond.
Carat – unite of weight for jewels
Caret – a small wedged-shaped mark (^) used by editors to indicate where text should be inserted
She grabbed a box of stationery.
Stationery – writing materials
Stationary – not moving
Donna always sticks to her principles.
Principle – code of conduct
Principal – (noun) the leader of a school or main sum of money owed on a loan OR (adjective) describes something that is prominent or important (our principal concern)
His office was little more than a cubicle.
Cubicle – a small partitioned space
Cubical – shaped like a cube with six equal square sides
My husband believed in giving his staff free rein.
Rein – to guide (or in this case to give complete freedom)
Reign – to rule as a sovereign power
Rain – water falling to earth or a continuous descent or inflicting of anything (a rain of blows)
The car has dual air bags.
Dual – two
Duel – a contest between two people
The new curtains complemented the room nicely.
Complemented – went well with, enhanced
Complimented – to give a praise
Registration fees may be waived for low income families.
Waived – voluntarily forgo something
Waved – flapping up and down
The police arrived at the grisly scene.
Grisly – gruesome, ghastly
Grizzly – having hair that is gray
She felt as if she had been put through the wringer.
Wringer- a devise for wringing something out, squeezing it dry
Ringer – a person or thing that makes a ringing noise
His lawsuit claimed there had been a breach of contract.
Breach – violation
Breech – bottom or back end of something (a breech birth)
There are MANY other words that often get mixed up but I will leave those for another post.