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Homophones and Confused Word Pairs: Writing Skills Success Study Guide (page 3)

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Updated on Aug 25, 2011

Threw/Through

  • Threw is a verb, the past tense of throw, meaning tossed.
  • Through is an adverb or a preposition meaning in one side and out the other. Use through to introduce a prepositional phrase: through the door, through the lobby, through the mist.
  • Example:
      Fred threw (tossed) the ball through (in one side and out the other) the hoop.

Weak/Week

  • Weak is an adjective meaning flimsy, frail, and powerless.
  • Week is a noun meaning a period of seven days.
  • Example:
      The patient's heartbeat was so weak (frail) that the doctor was certain he would be dead within a week (seven days).

Which/Witch

  • Which is a pronoun dealing with choice. As an adverb, it introduces a subordinate clause.
  • Witch is a noun meaning sorceress, enchantress.
  • Examples:
      Which (choice) one do you want?
      This car, which (introduces subordinate clause) I have never driven, is the one I'm thinking about buying.
      I don't know which (choice) witch (enchantress) I should dress up as for Halloween.

To Split or Not to Split

Already/All Ready

  • Already is an adverb meaning as early as this, previously, by this time.
  • All ready means completely ready, totally ready.
  • Examples:
      At age four, Brigitta is reading already (as early as this).
      We had already (previously, by this time) finished.
      Are we all ready (completely ready) to go?

Altogether/All Together

  • Altogether is an adverb meaning entirely, completely.
  • All together means simultaneously.
  • Examples:
      These claims are altogether (entirely) false.
      The audience responded all together (simultaneously).

Everyday/Every Day

  • Everyday is an adjective meaning ordinary, usual.
  • Every day means each day.
  • Examples:
      These are our everyday (usual) low prices.
      The associates sort the merchandise every day (each day).

Maybe/May Be

  • Maybe is an adverb meaning perhaps.
  • May be is a verb phrase meaning might be.
  • Example:
      Maybe (perhaps) the next batch will be better than this one. On the other hand, it may be (might be) worse.

Always Split

  • A lot. There's no such word as alot. There's a word allot, which means to portion out something.
  • Example:
      I thought it was all right that we allotted tickets to a lot of our best customers.

Tip

How many easily confused words can you spot in your reading? Try substituting the synonyms you learned.

Practice exercises for this concept can be found at Homophones and Confused Word Pairs: Writing Skills Success Practice Exercises.

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