Search Results for 'homophone' ↓

Homophones at risk

Another batch of homophone fails. Read at “you’re” own risk.


sorry lincoln

But apparently it has no trouble “excepting” multiple exclamation points!!!!!!!!

…as is the sign.

. . . . .

Stop by every 1st, 3rd, and 5th Wednesday for a peek into the world of spelling, punctuation, or grammar gone wrong!

Book review: All About Homophones

The Confusing World of Homophones

“If your going too the movies, make sure you don’t by to many sweets.”

Your/you’re. By/buy. To/too/two. These often-confusing (and frequently misused) words are called homophones—words that sound the same but are spelled differently.

While the difference between its and it’s may not seem like a big deal to some, using these two little words—or any homophone—incorrectly can make us seem ignorant and uneducated. You see, whether or not they mean to, people often form first impressions simply by reading our writing. Isn’t this why our shelves brim with English references, grammar programs, and spelling books? It IS important to us that our children write as accurately as possible.

It’s never too late to teach the rules to your kids. And if you didn’t quite grasp these concepts during your own school days, it’s not too late to learn or re-learn the rules yourself.

All About Homophones

All About Homophones is an exciting new curriculum that will unlock your children’s understanding of these confusing word sets. Author Marie Rippel says:

“Teaching homophones can be tough! They sound the same, but they aren’t spelled the same, and they don’t mean the same thing . . . [All About Homophones] is a complete teaching tool kit that helps you demystify homophones and homonyms for students. They’ll learn and master spelling easily through interesting worksheets and games they love to play.”

One Book, Multiple Grades

Take time to teach your children about homophones so they’ll learn to correctly spell and use these word sets.

Because the worksheets are divided into sections by grade level, All About Homophones is perfect for teaching multple grades. One book includes reproducible worksheets for grades one through eight, making the program budget friendly too.

Lessons You’ll Love

The book includes a comprehensive list of common homophones and recommends which grade to introduce each one. And All About Homophones offers a variety of activities that appeals to different learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

These aren’t your ordinary dull worksheets! Whimsical illustrations and engaging activities maintain your children’s interest while helping them make sense of each new set of words. Here are some of the ways your children will learn about homophones:

  • Homophone Worksheets to reinforce reading and writing.
  • Graphic Organizers to help teach the meanings of each set of words.
  • Crossword Puzzles, Riddles, and Tongue Twisters to reinforce with fun and humor.
  • Card Games with cards and instructions for playing several different games.
  • Student Record Sheets
  • List of Homophones
  • List of Homophone-rich Books to read with your children

Click here to see sample pages from All About Homophones.

Now in the WriteShop Store

We’re always looking for top-notch products that reinforce writing, grammar, and spelling, so we’re excited to announce that All About Homophones is now in stock in the WriteShop store. Stop in and check out this great new resource. Teaching your children to use homophones correctly is one of the best gifts you can give them. Order yours today! 

Homophone Humor

If I haven’t yet convinced you of the importance of teaching homophones—or if you think your children can simply trust their spell-check to correct these troublesome words, you’ll want to read Owed to the Spell Checker. One of my favorite examples of homophone confusion, this humorous poem illustrates just how easy it is to mix up words that have similar sounds.

Common errors to avoid in writing

Here's an Internet scavenger hunt that takes you in search of some of the most common errors to avoid in writing, grammar, and punctuation.

I’m not sure I can argue for a single worst writing mistake. I have a pet peeve or two, but overall, I’m simply on a mission to educate my readers.

From popular blogs to tweets and Facebook comments, the web is littered with bad grammar and punctuation. In schools and workplaces, student and employee writing skills are called into question every day. Errors are pervasive enough to inspire articles that hope to shed light on common grammar, writing, and punctuation mistakes.

Today, let’s go on a little Internet scavenger hunt to discover some of the most common errors to avoid in writing.

At each stop, take time to read about those errors and their solutions. While you’re there, look for the answers to the five questions or problems below.

1. Maniacal Rage

Maniacal Rage lists eight common errors. For example:

He reminds us not to ____________ after periods.

2. Pasnau’s Top Ten

Robert Pasnau, PhD (Professor of Philosophy, University of Colorado) brings us Pasnau’s Top Ten.  Almost every paper he receives has at least one grammatical error from his list.

Dr. Pasnau says: “You will be judged, for your entire life, on the basis of ___________________.”

3. Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Dumb

Brian Clark at Copyblogger gives us Five Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Dumb. Among them, Brian includes four pairs of words writers often confuse.

Name one pair: _______ vs. _______

4. Common Punctuation Errors

Even though this article is called Six Common Punctuation Errors That Bedevil Bloggers, it’s not just bloggers who have trouble with punctuation. According to the article, which one of these sentences is correctly punctuated?

a. On Friday, Sam is coming home from boot camp!!!
b. Kayla said, “Put it in the small box.”
c. Grandma will serve “breakfast” on the patio.
d. None of the above is punctuated correctly.
e. All of the above are punctuated correctly.

5. The Comma Splice

The comma splice is a common punctuation error. According to this article, which of the following solutions will not fix a comma splice?

a. Replacing the comma with a period
b. Replacing  the comma with a semicolon
c. Removing the comma
d. Following the comma with a conjunction

If you’re serious about brushing up on your grammar, here are a few other articles you can explore:

Apostrophes and Plural Family Names

Grammar Tips: Is It I or Me?

Do You Misuse or Misspell These 5 Words or Phrases?

Answers: (1) double-space; (2) how well you write; (3) answers will vary; (4) b; (5) c

Here on the blog, you’ll find lots of help with grammar and punctuation. Other available resources include The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation and All About Homophones, both of which can help you teach and reinforce basic but important grammar and spelling conventions. Check them out!

Photo: Clemens V. Vogelsang, courtesy of Creative Commons

Teach your kids that grammar matters!

Grammar matters! A teen may have excellent content, but if his grammar usage is poor, it can get in the way of a good written message.

Across the Internet, it’s all the rage to poke fun at grammar and spelling bloopers that appear on signs, websites, and even Facebook posts.

A quick tour around the web will lead you to articles with titles such as:

  • Top 5 Annoying Grammatical Mistakes
  • 10 Punctuation Mistakes That Make You Look Stupid
  • Five Grammar Errors That Make You Look Dumb
  • 8 Grammatical Errors That Could Scare Away Readers
  • 10 Résumé Mistakes That Can Cost You The Job

I won’t lie—there are some pretty hilarious examples out there. Funny as many of these are, however, this amazing scope of writing errors has begun to knock some sense into people. Homeschoolers, educators, and business folks alike are becoming increasingly concerned about teaching correct usage to this generation of students.

Bad Grammar Ruins a Good Message

Grammar and punctuation are a big deal. I don’t think I can say this too many times: poor grammar, spelling, and punctuation can interfere with your student’s writing success.

Sloppy grammar can render an otherwise great paper ineffective, because no matter how compelling the argument, some people just can’t get past the glare of those mechanical errors. Your teen may have interesting, clever things to say, but if his command of English usage is poor, it will get in the way of a good written message.

Grammar Matters

We’ve heard the old adage: Never judge a book by its cover, but let’s be honest. Right or wrong, we all make snap judgments about every person we meet. The way someone dresses, his hairstyle, his table manners, and the way he speaks can make us think highly of that person—or not so highly.

Writing that contains incorrect grammar, spelling, and punctuation can have a similar effect. A person may be bright and articulate, but if his writing is riddled with errors, it can actually make him appear uneducated and can jeopardize employment or advancement opportunities.

So what’s the purpose of grammar and punctuation? Basically, these writing conventions help students communicate clearly, avoid ambiguity, and prevent misunderstandings. Here’s a humorous example:

The murderer protested his innocence an hour after he was put to death.

By adding a bit of punctuation, the true meaning of the sentence becomes clear:

The murderer protested his innocence. An hour after, he was put to death.

What a difference in meaning!

There are tons of grammar rules to help students improve the way they communicate in writing. Through practice and application, your children will find that most grammar concepts eventually become second nature.

Where Do You Start?

There’s a lot to learn. Where should you begin? What concepts should you teach? Diagramming may have its merits, but more practically:

  • Does your student understand when to use which instead of that?
  • Does he correctly use affect and effect, their/there/they’re, and other frequently flip-flopped homophones?
  • Can he identify and fix misplaced modifiers?
  • Does he know when to use I and when to use me?

Grammar matters, so make it an important part of teaching writing. Teach correct punctuation. Practice using homophones correctly. Work on your kids’ grammar skills.

You can all brush up together! Why not start with these six helpful links?

Photo Credits: Jhayne (writing tutor), Eli Reusch (Grammar Police), courtesy of Creative Commons

Garden of Rhyming Words

Reinforce spelling and reading skills with rhyming word activities.

All year, you’ve watched your child’s vocabulary grow like a garden of wildflowers. You’ve watered, weeded, and spread plenty of sunshine with family read-aloud times, spelling lessons, and writing games. This week, help your child display what she’s learned with a colorful “garden” of rhyming words!

Kindergarten or First Grade: Word Family Flowers

A word family is a set of words with similar sounds and spelling patterns, such as set, jet, bet, and met. To help your child make a word family flower, you’ll need to gather a few supplies:

  • A blank sheet of white copy paper
  • A stem and leaves cut from green paper, and a circular flower center cut from yellow paper
  • Flower petals cut from bright or pastel paper
  • Glue sticks

Together, write a word family ending in the middle of the flower, such as -at. Now, choose simple rhyming words like rat and cat that will fit in this family. (Rhyming picture books are a great place to help your child find words!) Help her write one word on each flower petal. Finally, help your child arrange the pieces into a beautiful flower on the white paper, and glue it all in place.

The -at word family flower is now ready for display! Wouldn’t this be a pretty addition to your schoolroom or writing center? I’m confident your little gardeners won’t want to stop with just one flower. Make more flowers with word endings such as –en,–ot, –ike, and–ill.

When the flowers are completed, display them on the wall. Alternatively, three-hole punch each page (or slip pages into sheet protectors) and store them together in a notebook. Let your child decorate a notebook cover page with the title “My Garden of Rhyming Words.”

First, Second, or Third Grade: Rhyme Gardens

As your children develop their reading and spelling skills, they might start to notice that some rhyming words are spelled very differently. Help them visualize the relationship between these homophones with a rhyme garden. First, gather:

  • A sheet of white paper
  • Tulip flowers cut from brightly-colored paper
  • Crayons, markers, or colored pencils to draw stems and leaves
  • Glue sticks

Your child will enjoy arranging the tulips and adding greenery on the white paper. For this first rhyme garden, choose a familiar ending sound, such as –ate. Help your child write a variety of rhyming words in the garden, one word on each tulip, such as late, eight, great, straight, and wait. Other word families include –o (go, row, hoe, though, and sew) and –air (hair, where, bear, stare, and their). Remind your kids to practice pronouncing these words out loud while they are writing or coloring.

These rhyme gardens can be added to the child’s three-ring notebook, or used to decorate the refrigerator and bedroom closet doors!


Give your kids a long sheet of white butcher paper. Every twelve inches or so, start a new rhyme garden with different color flowers. For instance, use

  • yellow tulips for show, go, and toe;
  • orange tulips for score, roar, and door;
  • purple tulips for bird, word, and herd; and
  • blue tulips for threw, blue, and do.

Encourage your children to keep adding to their “flower field” as they encounter and master new words.

WriteShop Primary Book BThese rhyming word activities come from WriteShop Primary A and B by Nancy I. Sanders. If you like what you see, be sure check out the entire WriteShop Primary series. Complete with Teacher’s Manuals and Activity Packs, this writing curriculum is full of kid-friendly activities that will leave your youngsters asking for more!

If you’re considering WriteShop Primary as part of your homeschool curriculum for next year, find out what other parents are saying. As always, we would love to hear your feedback as well!

Synonym bingo

GAMES ARE such a great way of teaching or practicing skills. When an activity is fun and engaging, learning happens more naturally. The best part? The kids don’t even realize they’re doing “schoolwork”!

To give your children practice with synonyms and help them better understand the subtlety of word meanings, play Synonym Bingo!


Printable bingo cards (blank or customizable)

Synonym word lists such as:

Bingo markers such as pennies or dried beans


  1. Choose 24 synonym pairs from one of your word lists. Circle one word from each pair. This will become your call list.
  2. If printing out blank bingo cards: Write the other word from each pair in a different square on the bingo cards. If several children are playing, scramble the order of the words so the cards are different from one another. Words on the card should not be synonyms of other words on the card. For example, write “large” or “big,” but not both.
  3. If using customizable cards: Type the words as directed by the website. It will generate the customized bingo cards and create a PDF for you to print.
  4. To play the game, call out one of the circled words on your list. Players then place a marker on the corresponding synonym. Play continues until a child covers five squares in a row either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.


  • Give a list of 24 words to your child (but not their synonyms). Let her think of a synonym for each word and write it in a square. Use the list as your call list.
  • Play the game using homophones or antonyms.

Grammar skills your kids must learn

Grammar skills kids must learn! These should be so ingrained in their minds, there's no way they'll misuse or forget them when writing.

Did you know that emus can’t walk backward or that an iguana can stay underwater for nearly 30 minutes?

Did you know that The Battle of Bunker Hill was actually fought at neighboring Breed’s Hill or that the state of Maryland has no natural lakes?

While these bits of trivia are interesting (and fun to learn during studies of science, history, or geography), they don’t need to take up permanent residence in your kids’ brain cells.

On the other hand, certain concepts should be so ingrained in your children’s minds that there’s no way they’ll misuse or forget them—including important rules of writing mechanics. Why? Because better grammar contributes to better writing!

Let’s look at three areas of grammar and punctuation every child must master.

Apostrophes, Possessives, and Plurals

Everywhere I look, it seems, random apostrophes are turning up incorrectly in words meant to be plural, not possessive.

Grammar skills kids must learn! These should be so ingrained in their minds, there's no way they'll misuse or forget them when writing.

These are typical examples:

No dog’s allowed
Closed Sunday’s and Monday’s
Wanted: Chef’s and Cook’s
No shoe’s, no shirt, no service

Other times, apostrophes are just misused altogether:

Ladie’s Apparel Sale
Life at it’s best

The correct use of plural and possessive forms may seem like a minor issue. Among educated persons, however, incorrect forms, especially misuses of apostrophes, stand out like red flags. One area executive has said he will not hire an applicant whose letter or résumé includes such an error.” ~Meredith College Grammar Review

Teach your children to use apostrophes correctly. A quick Google search will yield pages of helpful rules, tips, and practice exercises—as well as many humorous examples of apostrophe abuse. Here are a few links to get you started:


Homophones are words that are spelled differently but pronounced the same—and confusion among them contributes to all sorts of writing problems. Common sets of homophones such as except/accept, peek/peak/pique, and principal/principle can trip up both kids and adults. Worse, spell-check won’t catch tricky errors because it’s about meaning, not spelling.

While some people may not care whether a Facebook friend types your instead of you’re, it’s definitely a problem when it comes between a student and an “A” paper or a job applicant and the position he’s applying for.

Like apostrophe misuse, homophone mix-ups can cause the writer to seem uneducated or ignorant, so it’s important to begin teaching children when they’re young to distinguish between these confusing words.

Comma Splices, Run-ons, and Fragments

Commas can be tricky. They’re either overused, underused, or just plain misused! One of the worst culprits is the comma splice, in which the writer sticks a comma instead of a period between independent clauses.

I’m tired of all this rain, I wish the sun would come out again.

Run-ons (also called fused sentences) are “comma splices without the commas.”

I ate deep-fried pickles and Twinkies at the fair they were both delicious.

Sentence fragments are also known as incomplete sentences. Fragments are missing a verb, a subject, or both.

On the other hand, leafy green vegetables.
Running all the way to the wall without stopping.

If your children have trouble with comma splices, run-ons, or sentence fragments, follow these links for helpful rules, games, and tips:

It’s All about Practice!

These are among the most important grammar skills kids must learn. Don’t turn a blind eye to your children’s mistakes. They need to hear these rules over and over again, and they need much practice to reinforce proper usage and develop new habits.

Why not pick one problem area, such as comma splices or its vs. it’s, and work on it regularly until your child experiences frequent success? You’ll put her one step closer to becoming a more confident writer.

Copyright 2012 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Photo: Hand (Carissa Rogers) and book case’s (R/DV/RS), courtesy of Creative Commons

Oh, deer: English language silliness

   The English Language

A pretty deer is dear to me,
   A hare with downy hair;
A hart I love with all my heart,
   But I can barely bear a bear.

‘Tis plain that no one takes a plane
   To have a pair of pears.
All rays raise thyme, time razes all;
   And through the whole, hole wears.

A writ, in writing “right” may write
   It “wright” and still be wrong—
For “write” and “rite” are neither “right,”
   And don’t to write belong.

Beer often brings a bier to man,
   Coughing a coffin brings,
And too much ale will make us ail,
   As well as other things.

The person lies who says he lies
   When he is but reclining;
And, when consumptive folks decline,
   They all decline declining.

A quail won’t quail before a storm—
   A bough will bow before it;
We can not rein the rain at all—
   No earthly power reigns o’er it.

The dyer dyes awhile, then dies;
   To dye he’s always trying,
Until upon his dying-bed
   He thinks no more of dyeing.

A son of Mars mars many a sun;
   All days must have their days,
And every knight should pray each night
   To Him who weighs his ways.

‘Tis meet that man should mete out meat
   To feed misfortune’s son;
The fair should fare on love alone,
   Else one can not be won.

The springs spring forth in Spring, and shoots
   Shoot forward one and all;
Though Summer kills the flowers, it leaves
   The leaves to fall in Fall.

I would a story here commence,
   But you might think it stale;
So we’ll suppose that we have reached
   The tail end of our tale.

From Eclectic Magazine, January 1881

. . . . .

The author of this poem uses many homophones to create plays on words. But if some of these homophones regularly give your children trouble, consider All About Homophones, a wonderful resource that clearly teaches homophone spelling rules with fun games and activities. Contains exercises for grades 1-8.

Teaching writing conventions

Teaching writing conventions--generally accepted standards for written English and grammar--will help kids' writing look and sound its best.

When your student begins to protest: “But I like it this way!” or “It looks okay to me,” it’s high time to introduce the concept of writing conventions.

Defining Conventions

We can define conventions as a set of generally accepted standards for written English. We use conventions to make our writing more readable. In other words, we do things in a certain way so the reader can figure out what we’re trying to say.

Conventions include spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and sentence structure. Students should:

  • Apply spelling rules correctly.
  • Use correct punctuation to smoothly guide the reader through the paper.
  • Use verb tenses correctly.
  • Write sentences that express complete thoughts.
  • Demonstrate paragraph organization and use smooth transitions.

In addition, each kind of writing has its own conventions. For instance:

  • Narrative writing must have characters, setting, and plot.
  • Descriptive writing must appeal to the senses through use of vivid, colorful, precise vocabulary.
  • Expository writing must inform, clarify, explain, define, or instruct.
  • Persuasive writing must present an argument based on facts and logic, and attempt to sway the reader’s opinion.

Teaching Conventions

As a rule, you probably won’t teach a lesson on “conventions,” per se. There are just too many conventions, so it’s better to deal with them independently. Besides, individual concepts stick better when students can apply them in a practical way.

For example, it’s just natural to introduce character, setting, plot, and conflict when you’re teaching your children to write a narrative. You wouldn’t teach these as isolated elements and not have your kids actually write a narrative; the instruction and application makes sense because they’re including these elements in their story.

Similarly, instead of teaching grammar in isolation, make sure you’re providing an immediate way for students to apply their grammar lessons to a writing assignment. If your grammar program is introducing appositives, for instance, require your child to include an appositive in the history report he’s working on.

Reinforcing Conventions

Diligently reinforce concepts by making sure your children are following conventions in their writing.

As they get older, there should be no more excuse for things like comma splices, incomplete sentences, and homophone confusion.

These are the problems you must nip in the bud now, because they’re the very issues that will identify your students as poor writers later on—both in college and on the job. Therefore, give recurring problems focused attention.

Here on the blog, you’ll find lots of help with grammar and punctuation. Other available resources include The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation and All About Homophones, both of which can help you teach and reinforce basic but important grammar and spelling conventions. Check them out!

Photo: Erwin Fisser, courtesy of Creative Commons

Key to the grammar quiz

Well, how do you think you fared on yesterday’s grammar quiz? Check your answers below.

1.  Your kidding! The Panthers won the championship?

Since the speaker means “You are kidding,” the sentence should begin with You’re, not Your.

2.  Emily’s dog had a thorn in it’s left paw.

In this sentence, it’s is incorrect. Emily’s dog didn’t have a thorn in “it is” paw, so the word should be possessive: its.

3.  This is their first trip to California.

This sentence uses their correctly.

4.  Our homeschool group went to the zoo, we had a great time.

This sentence has a comma splice, which can be fixed any of the following ways:

  • Our homeschool group went to the zoo. We had a great time.
  • Our homeschool group went to the zoo; we had a great time.
  • Our homeschool group went to the zoo, and we had a great time.

5.  Last night, we went to the Franklin’s for dinner.

Franklin’s is incorrect. Since several Franklins live at this home, the sentence calls for a plural possessive: the Franklins’.

6.  Amazingly, there wasn’t a scratch on its fender.

This sentence uses the possessive its correctly.

7.  My friend Jason is a genius he won a math scholarship.

This is a run-on sentence, which can be fixed either of these ways:

  • My friend Jason is a genius. He won a math scholarship.
  • My friend Jason is a genius; he won a math scholarship.

8.  We took it for granite that Grandpa would always be with us.

This is a common homophone error. The correct word is granted, not granite.

9.  Aunt Lucy visited the museum with my family and me.

This sentence is correct. If you remove my family, the sentence still makes sense (Aunt Lucy visited the museum with me).

10.  I shouldn’t of worn white slacks to the spaghetti dinner.

To make this sentence correct, we need to replace of with have: I shouldn’t have worn white slacks.

Did any of these questions give you trouble? If so, take time to review the rules and practice with some simple exercises. Both All About Homophones and The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation offer help with troubleshooting common errors of spelling, usage, and grammar. Take the time to learn (or re-learn) some of the basics. It will make a difference in your writing.

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