Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Those Tricky Little Homos

Now, now, don't get upset, I am not talking trash about any one group of people; I would never do that. I am talking about some really tricky homos - homophones and homonyms. These tricky little rascals threaten to get the best of even the most conscientious of writers. Let's start with a simple definition of each.

Homophone - A pair or group of words that sound the same, but the meanings of each are different.
Homonym - A pair or group of words that are spelled the same, sound the same, but have different meanings.

Now that we know what they mean, let's have an example of each in some everyday sentences:
  • Homophone: Bear, Bare
  1. I will ask everyone to bear with me while I finish this lesson, however tedious it may seem.
  2. I am attempting to break these lessons down to the bare essentials.
  • Homonym: Bear, Bear
  1. The bear stole our food while we were away from our campsite.
  2. We were scared as the animal that was chasing us began to bear down on us.
Now, it is important to remember how these words are used in a sentence. It is very unseemly for you to ask someone to bare with you, because this would insinuate that you are asking them to get naked (bare themselves) with you. Probably not at all the intended message you wish to convey, but who knows, maybe it is. Nor do you want to bare down on someone - that would really not be polite, unless both parties are willing of course, in which case bare away while bearing in mind that most people don't want to see your baring down on each other. While you might be able to bear with a bear at a safe distance, you most assuredly would not want to bare with a bear under any circumstances.

Thank you so much for bearing with me and allowing me to bring you this installment of grammar/spelling education. I understand that it can be boring, and it seems trivial in the full scheme of life, but with the barest minimum effort on your part, you can save yourself a lot of embarrassment.  Not to mention me a lot of headaches as I read what you write, not that you care a fig about me and my frustrated headaches, but I'm just saying.

 It is essential, whether you believe so or not, that we keep our (bare) butts covered when it comes to our written communication, especially in this day and age, when written forms of communication take place as often (if not more) as oral conversation does.