Today is a day of triple 2s: 2/22. It’s a day we might think of those words in English that are pronounced alike but that are spelled differently, such as two, to, and too. Homophones are a double edged sword. On one side they add an enormous level of difficulty to English spelling. For example, even if you have the spelling of a word “write,” you still have to check to make sure you have the “right” homophone. On the other side, however, they also allot writers a lot of opportunities to create puns. For example, you might have heard the old joke:
Why did the father who willed his three boys his cattle ranch demand that they name it “Focus”?
Because it was where the “sons raise meat” (sun’s rays meet).
Most homophones come in pairs (as in knew and new), but like to, two, and too, there are several triple homophones. Here is a sample list:
aisle, I’ll, isle
aye, eye, I
bole, boll, bowl
cent, scent, sent
cite, sight, site
dew, do, due
for, fore, four
gnu, knew, new
idle, idol, idyll
meat, meet, mete
pare, pair, pear
peak, peek, pique
poor, pore, pour
raise, rays, raze
their, there, they’re
vane, vain, vein
way, weigh, whey
write, right, rite
Today’s Challenge: Triple Word Play
What are some examples of triple homophones that vex writers, and how can you explain the correct usage of each word? Select a trio of homophones and research the correct usages of each. Then, write a clear explanation that explains clearly how each different spelling matches up with the correct meaning and usage of each word. Below is an example that explains the homophones to, too, and two.
To: To is a preposition, as in “Today I went to the store.” It is also frequently used before a verb to form the infinitive, as in Today I hope to buy some new shoes.
Too: Too can be used as a synonym for “also” as in I’m planning to go to college, too. Too is also used to indicate excessiveness, as in My teacher gave me too much homework last night.
Two: Two is used to spell out the number 2, as in, We bought two lobsters for dinner last night.
Use each of the three words correctly in a single sentence looks like this:
I wanted to eat two peppers, but I couldn’t because they were too spicy.
Quotation of the Day: I’m the Whether Man, not the Weather Man, for after all it’s more important to know whether there will be weather than what the weather will be. -Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth