Do you know the difference between the words stationary and stationery?
When I edited articles for a parenting magazine, we got a charming piece about thank-you notes and how kids can create their own stationery. Charming. Except the writer kept using the word stationary, meaning not moving. Apparently, she didn’t catch the difference between stationary and stationery—and neither did her spell-check.
Homophones, words that sound alike but are spelled differently, can be a pain (as opposed to a pane). Examples:
ad – add
principle – principal
capitol – capital
cite – site
discreet – discrete
enumerate – innumerate
lightening – lightning
canvas – canvass
elicit – illicit
fare – fair
flair – flare
foreword – forward
peek – peak – pique
- Did she arrive in the nick of time or the knick of time?
- He got his just deserts or his just desserts?
- I waited with bated breath or baited breath?
- The tortoise had free rein of the house or free reign of the house?
- Did he wreak havoc or reek havoc?
- deserts (Surprise!)
- rein (I’m not lying.)
So, let’s be careful out there. Give your words a double take.