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Grammar Tips & Tidbits


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Homophone Potpourri Series


The English language brings with it a never-ending list of homophones, or words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings.¹ Many spelling errors occur because of confusion between homophones, so this week's tip features a "potpourri" of homophones for your comparison.

The following definitions are excerpts from Dictionary.com. Example sentences are original content provided by Accu-Assist.

Wave vs. Waive
●   Wave: a disturbance on the surface of a liquid body, as the sea or a lake, in the form of a moving ridge or swell. (noun)
  Example: They watched the waves roll in until nightfall.
●   Wave: a fluttering sign or signal made with the hand, a flag, etc.: a farewell wave. (noun)
  Example: She turned to give one last wave before boarding the plane.
●   Waive: to refrain from claiming or insisting on; give up; forgo: to waive one's right; to waive one's rank; to waive honors. (verb)
  Example: I called the company to request that they waive the annual fee.
Flair vs. Flare
●   Flair: a natural talent, aptitude, or ability; bent; knack: a flair for writing rhymes.  (noun)
   Example: Karen has a flair for decorating cakes.
●   Flare: to shine or glow.  (verb)
  Example:  The candle flared brightly in the night.
●   Flare: to start up or burst out in sudden, fierce activity, passion, etc. (often fol. by up or out): Tempers flared at the meeting. Violence flared up in a new section of the city. (verb)
  Example: The fans' emotions flared as the last seconds of the game ticked away.
Bare vs. Bear:
●   Bare: without covering or clothing; naked; nude: bare legs. (adj.)
  Example: The children enjoy going outside in their bare feet.
●   Bare: scarcely or just sufficient; mere: the bare necessities of life. (adj.)
  Example: Please keep the noise to a bare minimum.
Bear: to hold up; support: to bear the weight of the roof.  (verb)
  Example: That column can't bear any additional weight.
Bear with: to be patient or forbearing with: Please bear with me until I finish the story.
  Example: I hope you'll bear with me until the end of the presentation.

Did any of these homophones take you by surprise? I'd love to hear about it! Just email me to let me know which ones were new to you.

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1. Wikipedia contributors. "Homophone." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homophone (accessed January 22, 2008).

2. Dictionary.com. http://dictionary.reference.com/ (accessed January 22, 2008).