Grammar Guru Part 9: Homophone Errors

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A homophone is a word that sounds the same as another, but has a different meaning and spelling. To further complicate matters, the spelling and grammar checkers that many writers rely on to catch mistakes often don’t catch homophone errors.

Most writers are familiar with–and watch out for instances of–homophones such as too, to, and two, as well as there, their, and they’re. What’s trickier is when the ideal word for a sentence is a homophone that is used less often.

Complement vs. Compliment

Though complement and compliment can be both a noun or a verb, they still have different meanings. Most commonly, complement means things that go together or an amount is full. If you remember that complement is spelled with an “e” and enhances something, then it’ll be easier to apply that knowledge to your writing.

The striped tie complements his suit.

The sleigh carried its full complement of riders.  

A compliment is an expression of good wishes, admiration, or something nice. Using compliment as a verb indicates the act of offering a compliment. Because a compliment is the opposite of an insult, remember that the spelling with an “i” is used to deliver something nice instead.

She was complimented on a job well done.

He accepted the compliment graciously. 

Except vs. Accept

Except contains the letter “x,” which is rarely used in comparison to other letters, making it unique and exceptional. If you remember that the word except demonstrates something unique or exceptional, it might be easier to use it correctly.

Grayson moved all his furniture except his bed.

Accept means to acknowledge something, such as responsibility, consent, or the receipt of an item. Because both accept and acknowledge begin with the same two letters, it can help you remember to use accept when your sentence includes an acknowledgment.

Grayson accepted the offer on his home yesterday.

About the author

Katie S has been writing for many years, either for academic reasons or for her own pleasure. She has been a freelance writer, concentrating on crafting concise, interesting and exciting copy for a variety of clients in many different industries, including the fields of law, medicine, sports and more. 

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