Get Good at Grammar: Homophones & Why They Won’t Really Help Your Writing
I’m not a word doctor, but I am really good at words and want to help you help your words. Just think of me as an unlicensed linguisticologist. Set up an appointment with my receptionist and learn how to do grammar more better.
In this installment, we take a look at homophones, what they are, and why they’re really not that important for your writing.
What the crap are homophones?
Technically, homophones are words that have the same sounds as other words but are spelled differently and have different meanings.
However, this is a boring definition, and I have talked to Webster about replacing theirs with the really cool definition I shat out below:
Homophones are words that stole their pronunciations from other words but decided to just make up their own definitions to fuck with humans.
If you’re really interested in wasting your time learning more about homophones, below are some damn examples:
A “pail” is “a bucket” (a goddam noun), whereas “pale” means “light-colored or lacking in color” (a goddam adjective)
- Pail: “To make these buffalo wings, you’ll need 2 pounds of chicken wings, 3 tablespoons of kosher salt, and one pail of Mexican Armageddon chili peppers.”
- Pale: “Billy’s really sick. He’s all pale and has a bad case of explosive diarrhea. That oughta teach him not to make Satan’s Anus Buffalo Wings.”
“Buy” means “to purchase” (a goddam verb), “bye” is short for “goodbye” (a goddam interjection), and “by” means “next to” (a goddam preposition)
- Buy: “Huh. Our illegal basement moonshine distillery is on fire again. I’ll head to the store and buy some fire extinguishers before the cops find out.”
- Bye: “Bye, honey! And remember, if the cops do show up, the distillery was there when we moved in!”
- By: “And don’t forget to bribe the cops with our drug money. It’s in the urn with your grandmother’s ashes by the illicit arms cache.”
“Genes” are “the basic physical units of heredity” (a goddam noun) while jeans are “pants of various fabrics” (another goddam noun)
- Jeans: “I can’t wear tight jeans to the lab anymore. My colleague keeps looking at me like he wants to see what my reproductive organs taste like.”
- Genes: “My lab partner is really quite a fine specimen of the fairer sex. I’d like to get into her genes for a closer examination.”
“Pray” means “to offer devout petition, praise or thanks to God or an object of worship” (a goddam verb) while “prey” is “a person or thing that is the victim of an enemy” (a goddam noun)
- Pray: “I’m not having a very good brain day, so I’m going to pray to the literary gods to grant me with some sublime words to put into an article about homophones that I’m writing.”
- Prey: “Unfortunately, the literary gods require some sort of human sacrifice in order to fulfill my wishes. Nobody cares about unpaid interns, which makes them great prey for my holy purposes. Human sacrifice is covered under religious freedom laws, right?”
“Heir” means “a person who inherits the property of another following the latter’s death” (a goddam noun), while “air” is “a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, and minute amounts of other gases that surrounds the earth and forms its atmosphere” (another goddam noun)
- Heir: “My long lost former dog owner’s ex-girlfriend’s brother just passed away, which means I’m now the proud heir of 89 cans of expired cannellini beans. Chili cook-off at my place!”
- Air: “Dude, I’m so excited about all of the BBQs I’m going to host with all of those ‘aged’ inherited beans, I can’t even breathe! Back off and give me some air or I’ll die of lung death!”
Did you get all that? I can tell just by looking at you that you’re still not sure how words work.
That’s ok, though; just keep on comin’ back and Ol’ Doc Garza’ll fix ya right up. I’ve taken that Hypocritical Oath or whatever, so you’re in good hands.
By the way, I previously wrote an article about homonyms, which are kinda like homophones, but, you know, involve nyms instead of phones. Here it is: