Young Writers Society

Home » Forums » Resources » Knowledge Base » Grammar & Research


User avatar
312 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 6403
Reviews: 312
Sun Apr 12, 2009 11:54 am
Mars says...

In elementary school, my teacher told us about homonyms: those words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and mean different things. These poor words are often abused, used incorrectly, and can distort the meaning of your work. So, I've made up a list of some of the most common ones and their meanings.

accept & except

Accept is a verb which means 'to adapt to,' 'to receive,' or 'to agree to' something. Except is used the same way as 'unless.'

Susie accepted the award with a handshake and a smile.
They were all covered in dirt, except him.

alter & altar

Alter means 'to change.' An alter is a table upon where religious ceremonies are held (like altars at weddings).

The altered dress fit like a glove.
Ursala stood in white at the altar, wondering if she had left the stove on.

by, bye & buy

Buy means 'to purchase.' By indicates nearness. Bye is a shortened form of 'goodbye,'
meaning farewell.

Ian buys way too many shoes.
Isobel's house is by the seaside.
"Bye!" she called, as Oliver disappeared down the street.

desert & dessert

A desert is a dry, sandy area, but a dessert is the sweet stuff in the last course of a meal.

The desert winds twisted the sand up into a whirlwind.
We ate tiramisu and fruit kebabs for dessert.

its & it's

This is the most common one. Simply put, it's is a contraction of it is, but its is the possessive form of it. Everyone thinks that the possessive form is with the apostrophe, but that's incorrect. Examples:

It's only twenty degrees out. (It is only twenty degrees out.)
Its fur was the color of burnt oranges.

past & passed

Passed is the past-tense form of the verb pass. Past is, well, history.

She passed Timothy the carrots.
"I don't want to talk about your past, okay?"

peace, piece & peas

Peas are vegetables. Peace is the opposite of war. A piece is a part of something.

Yvette likes her peas frozen.
One day, we'll achieve world peace.
The glass window shattered to pieces.

scents, sense, & cents

Scents is the plural of scent, or smell. A sense is a feeling (think our five senses). It can also be a verb. And cents are US currency.

All the scents in the air were perfume.
His spidey-sense was tingling.
In Benedetto's wallet she found twenty dollars and thirteen cents.

they're, their & there

Another common mistake: they're is a contraction of they are, their is the plural form of they, and there is a position or a place.

They're getting angry now! (They are getting angry now!)
I took their hat, sorry.
You go and stand over there.

too, to & two

Two is a number. Too means 'as well as' or 'also.' To is used with a direction.

"Two pills every day for a week, John."
He gets a banana? I want a banana too!
Richard is going to Phoenix tomorrow.

you're & your

Your is the possessive form of you, but you're is a contraction of you are. Please memorize this one. I can't count how many times I've seen this mistake.

Your pants are on fire.
You're incredibly cute.

Hope this helps! xx
'life tastes sweeter when it's wrapped in poetry'
-the wombats

critiques // nano

User avatar
878 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 35199
Reviews: 878
Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:33 pm
Demeter says...

Hi, Mars! Good thing you brought this up.

their is the plural form of they

Correction: it's the possessive form. :)

"Your jokes are scarier than your earrings." -Twit

"14. Pretend like you would want him even if he wasn't a prince. (Yeah, right.)" -How to Make a Guy Like You - Disney Princess Style

Got YWS?

I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can't stop eating peanuts.
— Orson Welles