Happy Homonym!

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So, you’re busy this time of year…I’m busy this time of year. I’ll keep this short. In fact, I don’t really need to catch you up to speed, because you and I are probably already on the same page when it comes to homonyms.


Certainly as a journalism-trained writer, I am quite persnickety about a writer’s knowledge of his or her craft. Not just in the way writers “show” a story or present a character I can’t tear my mind away from, but in their handling of the nuts and bolts of grammar and punctuation.

I used to joke when I was an editor at a government agency, “I’ll tell you where to stick your commas.” And as long as I knew my big momma grammar words—such as predicate nominative, subjunctive tense, etc.—I could convince even the most high and mighty PhDs the error of their grammar ways.

So why do I struggle with something as simple as, say, homonyms? (You know, those words that sound alike but have vastly different meanings?) Again, it comes back to my mind, which runs faster than my fingers. But while Word may not catch these suckers, using the “find and replace” feature to sniff out my worst offenders does come in handy.

Here are my top 10 opponents…

  1. Their/There/They’re
  2. Hear/Here
  3. To/Too (I generally don’t mess up that other two)
  4. Bare/ Bear
  5. Your/You’re
  6. It’s/Its
  7. Fare/Fair
  8. Course/Coarse
  9. Complement/Compliment
  10. Principle/Principal

I think the best example of my sufferings, an error that almost made it to print, is the (almost) homonym of Calvary verses Cavalry. My very first novel, Accidental Mobster, was about to go to press with a character saying he hoped someone would send in the “calvary.” Well, I guess if you can’t be saved by one cavalry, you could be saved by the other? Anyway, I’m glad my super editor caught that one regardless!

So, this year’s New Year’s resolution for me? Well, I’m just determined to double check these grammar boogers before I line up my beta readers. Because you know, I really don’t want to get a chuckle off of something that’s not funny!

You here what I’m saying? (Just kiddingJ)

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