Category Archives: homophones

Field of Dreams

A huge “thank you” to the alert husband of an alert blog reader. He captured the following homophone fiasco outside Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This is the home of the minor league baseball team, the Cedar Rapids Kernels. It looks like they have a lot to be proud of, out there in eastern Iowa. Field of Dreams, indeed.

Except when it comes to spelling.

This is funny on so many levels. I will resist the urge to over-explain.

Suffice to say that the needed word is berth not birth. Defining Wild Card, however, is a much more complex undertaking because it has different meanings depending on the sport. I think it means they secured a spot in the playoffs, but only because they had a better record than the other teams who didn’t get there during competition during the regular season. That’s a dubious distinction in my book. Why they would include it, with a misspelled word, on an otherwise stellar placard, is beyond me.


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Past vs. Passed

Past and passed, while they sound the same, are not interchangeable.

Past is usually used as an adjective, and is always used before a noun. (“He was hired based on his past experience.”)

Passed is the past tense of the verb pass. (“I passed the vehicle in the left lane.”) Passed would have been the correct word choice in this context.

Aside from the misuse of the word past, what is this poet/hymn writer trying to say? Is he trying to inspire me with the word IF? IF I live till tomorrow? What makes you think I won’t make it, Bill? That, and the missing comma after tomorrow, leaves me highly uninspired.


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What a Meatball!

One should wonder whether a person who doesn’t know his palate from a pallet could really create the “perfect Italian meatball.”

For future reference:



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Complement vs. Compliment

This one is right up there with stationery vs. stationary.

Compliment means to offer a flattering remark. “You look marvelous!”

Complement means something that completes something else. In this case, the sign above was meant to indicate an array of caramel wraps, dips, and other apple accoutrements. Otherwise, the conversation might go something like this:

“Yes, can I help you?”

“Well, since you are soliciting compliments for your apples, I’m here to offer you some.”

“Alright then, let’s have it.”

“They are stacked very neatly, and the way they are stacked shows the best features of each of the varieties you have in stock.”

“Is that all?”

“Well, let’s not be greedy.”


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Carpe Diem, sort of

Since today is November 1, it’s time to get my “giving thanks” chops in shape.

Today, I am thankful for wonderful friends who text me on Saturday morning to tell me there is an error in a photo caption on the front page of the daily paper.

I think this one is particularly grievous, since the writer meant seizing opportunities, not ceasing.

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Swim Funnies

As the parent of a competitive swimmer, I enter her in many meets every year and, as a result, I read a LOT of meet entries. They can be anywhere from a couple of pages to a dozen pages or more.

I’m only going to call attention to the first sentence by saying it could be fixed with a semicolon after participate (unlikely) or with a period after participate and a capital “T” in they. Now, onto the more interesting homophone issues.

Sometimes swim teams will have a meet for their team only, which allows the coaches to assess where to place the swimmers in a “real” meet. This is sometimes called an uno meet, because it is just one team participating. When there are two teams, it is sometimes called a dual meet. I never thought about calling them duel meets, as the author of this entry did, but the misuse is amusing.

It’s not nearly as amusing as the replacement of president for precedent. In saying these words out loud, you notice that the “s” in president sounds more like a “z” than the softer “s” in precedent. These are not pure homophones like “dual” and “duel”.  Also, when you break the words down, preside and precede mean very different things. The first means to hold a place of authority, while the other means to surpass in rank, or go before.

It still amazes me how changing a letter or two can change a word’s meaning so greatly.

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There are three (to’s, too’s, two’s) in the English language.

That’s too bad.

Today’s post title is a riddle — a riddle without a solution. How does one write this sentence correctly? If you know, please, tell me, so I can rest easier.

Here we have just a snippet from a postcard that went out in the mail. They weren’t sure which (to, too, two) to use either.


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