HOMOPHONES: MOST COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS @ HIGH SCHOOL (4)

HOMOPHONES are two or more words that sound alike, but have different meanings or spellings.

In the sentence below, for example, every word is spelled correctly but three words are the wrong words, and even spellchecker will not flag even one of them.

Can you spot the homophones in the sentence below?

I herd the reign ruined there picnic.

 One great way to improve spelling skills is to learn the correct spellings and meanings of common sets of homophones.

A large percentage of spelling errors at High School are actually homophone usage errors.

Written correctly, the sentence should, of course, read:

 I heard the rain ruined their picnic.

Included here are sets of commonly used and sometimes confused sets of homophones. To help you improve spelling skills, for each word listed, I have included the most common meanings focusing on:

  • part of speech (sometimes)
  • a very brief definition
  • a sentence to test your understanding of the homophone word/s. 

pexels-photo-416322.jpegPlease note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

1. defuse/diffuse

  • Diffuse is to spread over a wide area; lacking clarity
  • Defuse is to make a situation less tense

Using the correct use of defuse/diffuse, fill in the sentences:

  1. Mr Jones . . . the prevailing tension among the villagers.
  2. The . . . community centred around the church.

2. desert/dessert

  • Desert is a waterless, empty area; to abandon someone.
  • Dessert is the sweet course of a meal.

 Using the correct use of desert/dessert, fill in the sentences:

  1. How did that car get over the Egyptian . . . .
  2. They enjoyed their . . .  after the main meal.

3. discreet/discrete

  • Discreet means being careful not to attract attention.
  • Discrete means separate and distinct.

Using the correct use of discreet/discrete, fill in the sentences:

  1. We made some . . . inquiries about the issue.
  2. Speech sounds are produced as a continuous sound signal rather than . . . units.

 4. disinterested/uninterested

  • Disinterested means impartial; unbiased, uninvolved.
  • Uninterested means bored or not wanting to be involved with something:

Using the correct use of disinterested/uninterested, fill in the sentences:

  1. A panel of . . . judges who had never met the contestants before judged the singing contest.
  2. Marwa was . . . in attending Hilda’s singing class.

5. die/dye

  • Die means to pass away; dying could also mean you are eager for something.
  • Dye (n.) coloring.

 Using the correct use of die/dye, fill in the sentences:

  1. The animal will . . . without proper nourishment.
  2. We used four kinds of . . . to color our Easter eggs.

6. does/dose

  • Does is a form of do.
  • Dose is quantity of medicine.

Using the correct use of does/dose, fill in the sentences:

  1. It . .  no good to complain.
  2. Take a . . . of aspirin for your headache.

7. here/hear

  • Use here as an adverb to indicate location.
  • Use hear as a verb to indicate listening.

 Using the correct use of hear/here, fill in the sentences:

  1. Please come back . . . and put your shoes away!
  2. Can you . . . the birds’ beautiful singing outside?

8. lie/lay

  • Use lie to indicate the act of reclining:
  • Use lay to indicate the placement of something:

Lay is a transitive verb, which means it always needs an object! Something is always being put down; lie, on the other hand, will never have an object because it is an intransitive verb.

Hint:

  • to lie: lie(s), lay, lain, lying
  • to lay: lay(s), laid, laid, laying

Using the correct use of lie/lay, fill in the sentences:

  1. I am tired just watching the dog . .  in the warm sunlight.
  2. Please . . . the paper on the table.

9. emigrate/immigrate

  • Emigrate means to move away from a city or country to live somewhere else.
  • Immigrate means to move into a country from somewhere else.

Using the correct use of emigrate/immigrate, fill in the sentences:

  1. Pearl’s grandfather . . .  from Canada sixty years ago.
  2. Tad’s sister . . . to Ireland in 2004.

 10. e.g./i.e.

These two Latin abbreviations are often mixed up, but e.g. means “for example,” while i.e. means “that is.”

11. empathy/sympathy

  • Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s perspective or feelings.
  • Sympathy is a feeling of sorrow for someone else’s suffering.
  • A sympathizer is someone who agrees with a particular ideal or cause.

 Using the correct use of empathy/sympathy, fill in the sentences:

  1. My . . . for Liz is fairly limited.
  2. She has a higher level of . . . in helping others.

 12. loose/lose/lost

  • Loose is usually an adjective:
  • Lose is always a verb. It means to misplace something or to be unvictorious in a game or contest.
  • Lost is the past tense of lose.

Using the correct use of loose/lose/lost, fill in the sentences:

  1. Nancy was careful not to . . . her ticket.
  2. Peter discovered that the cows were . . . .

13. it’s/its

  • It’s is the contraction for it is.
  • Its is the possessive form (“possessive” means belongs to) of it.

 Using the correct use of it’s/its, fill in the sentences:

  1. The cat is licking . . . paws.
  2. . . . raining today, so the baseball game will be cancelled.

14. weather/whether

  • Use weather when referring to the state of the atmosphere:
  • Use whether as a conjunction to introduce choices:

 Using the correct use of weather/whether fill in the sentences:

  1. The constantly changing springtime . . . is driving us crazy.
  2. Please tell us . . . you would prefer steak or salmon for dinner.

NB: There is no such word as wheather!

15. there/their/they’re

  • their (pron.) belong to them;
  • there (adv.) at that place;
  • they’re is the contraction for they are.

 Using the correct use of there/their/they’re, fill in the sentences:

  1. . . . house is always clean and tidy.
  2. Please put the groceries over . . . .
  3. . . . going to Paris for vacation.

So, how did you fair?

ANSWERS: #1. a) defused b) diffuse; #2. a) desert b) dessert #3. a) discreet b) discrete #4. a) disinterested b) uninterested; #5 a) die b) dye; #6 a) does b) dose  #7 a) here b) hear   #8 a) lie b) lay   #9 a) emigrated  b) immigrated   #11 a) sympathy b) empathy  #12 a) lose   b) lose/lost  #13 a) its   b) It’s   #14 a) weather   b) whether   #15 a) Their b) there c) They’re

ALWAYS make it a habit to edit your work to avoid committing the above mistakes.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!!

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HOMOPHONES: MOST COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS @ HIGH SCHOOL (3)

Please note the difference:

HOMOPHONES are words that sound the same but have different meanings. For example,

  • wait (the verb) and weight (how heavy something is)
  • they’re (they are) and their (belonging to them) and there (adverb of place)

HOMONYMS are a kind of homophone, words that are written and said the same way but have different meanings.

Examples of HOMONYMS are:

  • book           – something we read and . . .
  • book           – to schedule something.
  • Spring        – the season and . . .
  • spring         – to jump up.
  • club            – somewhere to dance and . . .
  • club            – large, heavy object that people get hit with.
  • fine             – money you owe for bring things back late and . . .
  • fine             – feeling okay.
  • rock           – a type of music and . . .
  • rock            – made of stone.

HOMOGRAPHS are words that are written the same way, but pronounced differently.

Examples of HOMOGRAPHS include:

  • to wind a clock but blowing wind.
  • rose, the flower and rose, past tense of the verb to rise.
  • book – something we read and book – to schedule something

To help you improve spelling skills for each word listed below, I have included the most Homophone common meanings focusing on:

  • part of speech (sometimes)
  • a very brief definition
  • a sentence to test your understanding of the homophone word/s.

pexels-photo.jpgPlease note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

1. cite/sight/site

  • Sight is one of your five senses. As a noun, it is “the ability to see.” It is also someone or something that is seen.
  • Site means “a place where something has happened.” It can also be “a place where something is, was, or will be located.”
  • Site is also short for website.
  • Cite is a verb. It can mean “to write or say the words” of a person, book or another source. It can also mean “to mention something,” usually to support an idea or opinion.

 Using the correct use of cite/sight/site, fill in the sentences:

  1. The sunset last night was a beautiful . . . .
  2. There are some important battle . . . near Washington, DC.
  3. When you write research papers in school, for example, you . . . other sources to support your argument.

2. canvas/canvass

  • Canvas is a type of strong cloth.
  • Canvass is to seek people’s votes.

 Using the correct use of canvas/canvass, fill in the sentences:

  1. His . . . -made trainers did not last long.
  2. The MP has tried to . . . for re-election for a third term.

3. censure/censor

  • Censure is to criticize strongly.
  • Censor is to ban parts of a book or film; a person who does this.

Using the correct use of censure/censor, fill in the sentences:

  1. He was . . . (ed) for his remarks over the incident.
  2. My book was heavily . . . (ed) before its publication.

 4. climactic/climatic

  • Climactic is forming a climax.
  • Climatic is relating to climate.

 Using the correct use of climactic/climatic, fill in the sentences:

  • The film’s . . .  scenes were traumatic for the kids.
  • Under certain . . . conditions, desert locusts increase in number.

5. complacent/complaisant

  • Complacent is proud of oneself and self-satisfied.
  • Complaisant is willing to please.

 Using the correct use of complacent/complaisant, fill in the sentences:

  1. In all of this praise, however, there is a severe danger that we might become . . . .
  2. There are too many . . .  doctors signing sick notes.

6. council/counsel

  • Council is a group of people who manage or advise.
  • Counsel is to seek advice; to advise.

 Using the correct use of council/counsel, fill in the sentences:

  1. The . . .  has unanimously endorsed the agreement with the government.
  2. He had to go for . . . (ing) after the tragic incident.

7. cue/queue

  • Cue is a signal for action.
  • Queue is a line of people or vehicles.

 Using the correct use of cue/queue, fill in the sentences:

  1. Pearl  hasn’t yet been given the . . .to come on stage.
  2. We found ourselves in a . . .  for petrol.

8. complement/compliment

  • Use complement when referring to something that enhances or completes.
  • Use compliment as an expression of praise.

 Using the correct use of complement/compliment, fill in the sentences:

  1. The cranberry sauce is a perfect . . . to the turkey dinner.
  2. I was pleased to have received so many . . . on my new dress.

9. curb/kerb

  • Curb is to keep something in check; a control or limit.
  • Kerb (in British English) is the stone edge of a pavement.

 Using the correct use of curb/kerb, fill in the sentences:

  1. The parents had to . . . his wayward behaviour.
  2. She fell of the . . . on her to ASDA market.

 10. currant/current

  • Currant is a dried grape.
  • Current is happening now; a flow of water, air, or electricity.

Using the correct use of currant/current, fill in the sentences:

  1. He .enjoys eating . . . fruits.
  2. Ted enjoys listening to . . . . news about the economy.

11.  cast, caste

  • cast – throw, toss or cause (light or shadow) to appear on a surface.
  • caste – social class (with some privileges).

Using the correct use of cast/caste, fill in the sentences:

  1. He . . . the book down onto the floor angrily.
  2. Those educated at private schools belong to a privileged . . . .

 12. capital/capitol

  • Capital has several meanings. It can refer to an uppercase letter, money, or a city where a seat of government is located.
  • Capitol means the building where lawmakers meet.

 Using the correct use of capital/capitol, fill in the sentences:

  1. Peter visited the cafe in the basement of the . . .  after watching a bill become a law.
  2. Basel visited Brasίlia, the . . . of Brazil.

13.  coarse/course

  • Coarse means rough, crude or harsh.
  • Course (n.) is a path or route to be taken.

 Using the correct use of coarse/course, fill in the sentences:

  1. His . . . manners were very irritating.
  2. Now that you’ve lost your job, what is the first . . . of action to be taken?

 14. choose/chose

  • Choose means to select.
  • Chose is the past tense of choose.

 Using the correct use of choose/chose, fill in the sentences:

  1. I . . . my puppy last week.
  2. I . . . that puppy in the window.

15. conscience/conscious

  • Conscience is your inner, moral guide.
  • Conscious is being aware of; alive; being alert

 Using the correct use of conscience/conscious, fill in the sentences:

  1. He had a guilty . . . about his desires.
  2. Tad became . . . . of people talking in the hall.

So, how did you fair?

ANSWERS: #1. a) sight b) site   c) cite; #2. a) canvas b) canvass #3. a) censured   b) censored #4. a) climactic  b) climatic; #5. a) complacent  b) complaisant; #6. a) council   b) counseling; #7. a) cue b) queue   #8. a) complement b) compliments   #9. a) curb   b)kerb #10. a) currant b) current   #11. a) cast b) caste  #12. a) capitol   b) capital   #13. a) coarse   b) course   #14. a) chose   b) choose   #15. a) conscience b) conscious

ALWAYS make it a habit to edit your work to avoid committing the above mistakes.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!!

HOMOPHONES: MOST COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS @ HIGH SCHOOL (2)

HOMOPHONES are two or more words that sound alike, but have different meanings or spellings.

In the sentence below, for example, every word is spelled correctly but three words are the wrong words, and even a spellchecker will not flag one of them.

Can you spot the homophones in the sentence below?

I herd the reign ruined there picnic.

 One great way to improve spelling skills is to learn the correct spellings and meanings of common sets of homophones.

A large percentage of spelling errors at High School are actually homophone usage errors.

Written correctly, the sentence should, of course, read:

 I heard the rain ruined their picnic.

Included here are sets of commonly used and sometimes confused sets of homophones. To help you improve spelling skills, for each word listed, I have included the most common meanings focusing on:

  • part of speech (sometimes)
  • a very brief definition
  • a sentence to test your understanding of the homophone word/s.

Please note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

1. buy/by/bye

  • Use buy when purchasing an item.
  • Use by as a preposition to indicate location.

Use bye in saying “goodbye” or when an athlete moves directly to the next round of a competition without playing.

 Using the correct use of buy/by/bye, fill in the sentences:

  1. I do need to . . . new shoes for the kids.
  2. John was given a . . . after Tad had withdrawn from the competition.

 2. bear/bare

  • Use bear when referring to the large mammal or to indicate the act of holding or supporting.
  • Use bare as an adjective indicating lack of clothing; uncovered.

 Using the correct use of bear/bare, fill in the sentences:

  1. How did that brown . . . open the security gate at the campsite?
  2. The wagon can hardly . . . the weight of the load.
  3. His . . . neck burned in the direct sunlight.

3. brake/break

  • Use brake as a verb meaning to stop or as a noun when referring to a device used to stop or slow motion:
  • Use break to indicate smashing or shattering or to take a recess OR
  • Use break as a noun to indicate a rest or pause.

 Using the correct use of brake/break, fill in the sentences:

  1. We took a water . . . after our first set of drills.
  2. The bike’s . . . failed, which is why he toppled town the hill.
  3. My back will . . . if we put one more thing in this backpack.

 4. breath/breathe

  • Breath is a noun; it’s the air that goes in and out of your lungs:
  • Breathe is a verb; it means to exhale or inhale:

 Using the correct use of breath/breathe, fill in the sentences:

  1. Chad held his . . . while Larry skateboarded down the stairs.
  2. After Shona’s spectacular landing, Holy had to remind herself to . . . again.

5. balmy/barmy

  • Balmy means pleasantly warm; soothing.
  • Barmy is being foolish, crazy.

 Using the correct use of balmy/barmy, fill in the sentences:

  1. I thought I was going . . . at first.
  2. We always enjoy the . . . days of late summer in Heysham.

6. bated/baited

  • Bated means in great suspense, very anxiously or excitedly
  • A bait is food attached or inserted as a decoy to lure

Using the correct use of bated/baited, fill in the sentences:

  1. The fish let go of the . . . .
  2. He waited for a reply to his offer with . . . breath.

7. bazaar/bizarre

  • Bazzar is a Middle Eastern market; a fundraising sale of goods
  • Bizarre means strange or unusual

 Using the correct use of bazaar/bizarre, fill in the sentences:

  1. They went to the Turkish bazaar to buy items.
  2. We found ourselves in a . . . situation.

8. berth/birth

  • Berth is a bunk in a ship, train, etc.
  • Birth is the emergence of a baby from the womb.

 Using the correct use of berth/birth, fill in the sentences:

  1. I will sleep in the upper . . . .
  2. The . . . of his son was a turning point.

9. breach/breech

  • Breach is to break through, or break a rule; a gap
  • Breech is the back part of a gun barrel; in birth, feet coming out first

 Using the correct use of breach/breech, fill in the sentences:

  1. The way he acted was a . . . of confidence on Sarah’s trust.
  2. She has had a . . . birth of her first born son.

 10. broach/brooch

  • Broach to raise a difficult subject for discussion; pierce
  • Brooch is a piece of jewellery

 Using the correct use of broach/brooch, fill in the sentences:

  1. He . . . the topic he had been avoiding all evening.
  2. Ted enjoys wearing an emerald . . . .

11. beside/besides

  • Beside means next to.
  • Besides means in addition.

Using the correct use of beside/besides, fill in the sentences:

  1. He sat . . . me.
  2. I love ice cream . . . chocolate.

12. capital/capitol

  • Capital has several meanings. It can refer to an uppercase letter, money, or a city where a seat of government is located.
  • Capitol means the building where lawmakers meet.

 Using the correct use of capital/capitol, fill in the sentences:

  1. Peter visited the cafe in the basement of the . . . after watching a bill become a law.
  2. Basel visited Brasίlia, the . . . of Brazil.

13. coarse/course

  • Coarse means rough, crude or harsh;
  • Course (n.) a path or route to be taken;

 Using the correct use of coarse/course, fill in the sentences:

  1. His . . . manners were very irritating.
  2. Now that you’ve lost your job, what is the first . . . of action to be taken?

14. choose/chose

  • Choose means to select.
  • Chose is the past tense of choose.

 Using the correct use of choose/chose, fill in the sentences:

  1. I . . . my puppy last week.
  2. I . . . that puppy in the window.

15. conscience/conscious

  • Conscience is your inner, moral guide.
  • Conscious is being aware of; alive; being alert.

 Using the correct use of conscience/conscious, fill in the sentences:

  1. He had a guilty . . . about his desires.
  2. Tad became . . . . of people talking in the hall.

So, how did you fair?

ANSWERS: #1. a) buy   b) bye; #2. a) bear b) bear c) bare #3. a) break   b) brake c) break #4. a) breath     b) breathe; #5 a) barmy   b) balmy; #6 a) bait   b) bated; #7 a) bazaar b) bizarre   #8 a) berth b) birth   #9 a) breach   b) breech addition   #10 a) broached b) brooch   #11 a) complement b) compliments  #12 a) capitol   b) capital   #13 a) coarse   b) course   #14 a) chose   b) choose   #15 a) conscience b) conscious

ALWAYS make it a habit to edit your work to avoid committing the above mistakes.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!

HOMOPHONES: MOST COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS @ HIGH SCHOOL (1)

HOMOPHONES are two or more words that sound alike, but have different meanings or spellings.

In the sentence below, for example, every word is spelled correctly but three words are the wrong words, and even the spellchecker will not flag one of them.

Can you spot the homophones in the sentence below?

I herd the reign ruined there picnic.

 One great way to improve spelling skills is to learn the correct spellings and meanings of common sets of homophones.

A large percentage of spelling errors at High School are actually homophone usage errors.

Written correctly, the sentence should, of course, read:

 I heard the rain ruined their picnic.

pexels-photo-256417.jpegIncluded below are sets of commonly used and sometimes confused sets of homophones.

To help you improve spelling skills, for each word listed, I have included the most common meanings focusing on:

  • what part of speech it is (sometimes).
  • a very brief definition.
  • a sentence to test your understanding of the homophone word/s.
  • answers to the sentences given at the end.

Please note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

1. affect/effect

  • Affect means to change or make a difference to . . .
  • Effect means a result; to bring about a result; used as a verb meaning to cause/achieve or to bring about . . .

Using the correct use of affect/effect, fill in the sentences:

  • The medicine did not . . . . the way the doctor had hoped.
  • The magician . . . (ed) his escape with a false door
  • The new medicine had negative side . . . .

2. accept/except

  • To accept is to agree to receive or do . . .
  • except means not including . . .

Using the correct use of accept/except, fill in the sentences:

  1. The organization will . . . donations from well-wishers.
  2. You may donate all items . . . car seats and cribs.

3. altogether/all together

  • Altogether means “completely” or “entirely,”eg: He denied all knowledge of it’
  • All together refers to a group of people or things that act collectively or at the same time, eg: “Let’s raise our glasses all together!” 

4. aloud/allowed

  • Use aloud when referring to something said out loud.
  • Use allowed when referring to something permitted.

Using the correct use of aloud/allowed, fill in the sentences:

  1. Reading . . . – and doing it well– is a skill that requires much practice.
  2. Dogs are not . . . to be on school property between 2:45-4pm.

5. advice/advise

  • Advice is a recommendations about what to do.
  • Advise is a verb meaning to recommend something.

Using the correct use of advice/advise, fill in the sentences:

  1. Shona . . . Holy to avoid the questionable chicken salad.
  2. Charles gave Paul good . . . .

6. assure/ensure/insure

  • Assure means to tell someone that something will definitely happen or is definitely true.
  • Ensure means to guarantee or make sure of something.
  • Insure means to take out an insurance policy.

Using the correct use of assure/ensure/insure, fill in the sentences:

  1. Lennie took steps to . . . that no one cheated at Bingo.
  2. The car was . . . against damage caused by flooding.
  3. Tad assured Pearl that no one would cheat at Bingo.

7. addition/edition

  • An addition is something that is added.
  • An edition is one in a series of printed material.

Using the correct use of addition/edition, fill in the sentences:

  1. Did you see the latest . . . of the paper?
  2. We built an . . . . onto the house.

8. adverse/averse

  • Adverse – unfavourable, harmful
  • Averse – strongly disliking; opposed

Using the correct use of adverse/averse, fill in the sentences:

  1. Taxes are having an . . . effect on production.
  2. He was a man known to be extremely controlling and . . . to intrusions.

9. aisle/isle

  • Aisle a passage between rows of seats
  • Isle is an island

Using the correct use of aisle/isle, fill in the sentences:

  1. He lives in the British . . . .
  2. The musical had the audience dancing in the . . . .

10. along/a long

  • Along is moving or extending horizontally on
  • A long refers to something of great length

Using the correct use of along/a long, fill in the sentences:

  1. We just continued to plod . . . the tasks.
  2. I went for . . . . walk.

11. altar/alter

  • Altar is a sacred table in a church
  • Alter is to change

Using the correct use of altar/alter, fill in the sentences:

  1. Andrew was persuaded to . . . the passage.
  2. I spent time in the cathedral admiring the . . . and ceiling.

12. amoral/immoral

  •  Amoral is not concerned with right or wrong
  • Immoral means not following accepted moral standards

Using the correct use of amoral/immoral, fill in the sentences:

  1. The client pays for the . . . expertise of the lawyer.
  2. The council judged the film to be . . . and obscene.

13. appraise/apprise

  • To appraise is to assess
  • To apprise is to inform someone

Using the correct use of appraise/apprise, fill in the sentences:

  1. There is a need to . . . existing techniques in the Department.
  2. I thought it right to . . . Chris of what had happened.

14. assent/ascent/accent

  • Assent is an agreement, approval
  • Ascent is the action of rising or climbing up

Using the correct use of assent/ascent, fill in the sentences:

  1. There was a loud murmur of . . . to the new proposal.
  2. The . . . grew steeper as we climbed the mountain.

15. aural/oral

  •  Aural is relating to the ears or hearing ‘
  • Oral is relating to the mouth; spoken

Using the correct use of aural/oral, fill in the sentences:

  1. The information was held in written,  . . . , or visual form.
  2. The class had an . . . discussion of the topic.

ANSWERS: #1. a) affect   b) effected   c) effects; #2. a) accept   b) except; #4. a) aloud    b) allowed; #5 a) advised   b) advice; #6. a) ensure   b) insured c) assured; #7. a) edition   b) addition; #8. a) adverse   b) averse; #9. a) Isles    b) aisles; #10. a) along    b) a long; #11. a) alter   b) altar; #12. a) amoral   b) immoral; #13. a) appraise   b) apprise; #14. a) assent   b) ascent; #15. a) aural   b) oral

How did you fair?

HOMOPHONES are quite tricky and need a lot of care and attention. It is always advisable to EDIT your work if you are someone who tends to get confused with them. In the end you will get the hang of it!

AGAIN, PRACTICE makes it perfect. Good luck in all your endeavours

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL

 

VOCABULARY WORKSHOP – THE KEY WORDS TO USE IN WRITING OR SPEAKING COMPETENTLY (7)

The acquisition of vocabulary is one of the most important task in language learning. If you have enough words, you can make sense of what you are reading or listening to and you can somehow express yourself.

In short, vocabulary acquisition is much more important than grammar. The grammar we have is acquired gradually as we become familiar with the language, with the words, but first of all we need words.

pexels-photo.jpgCONTEXT CLUES

Context clues are hints that an author gives to help define a difficult or unusual word. The clue may appear within the same sentence as the word to which it refers, or it may follow in a preceding sentence. Because most of one’s vocabulary is gained through reading, it is important that you are able to recognize and take advantage of context clues.

Thus, whether you are someone learning English as a second language or a reader who is trying to build their vocabulary, by knowing the different types of context clues, you may be better able to recognize and understand new words when you are reading.

Types Of Context Clues

There are at least FIVE kinds of context clues that are quite common:

1) RESTATEMENT/SYNONYM CLUES – Here, sometimes a hard word or phrase is said in a simple way. Notice how the meaning of the darkened word is arrived at:

  • It was an idyllic day; sunny, warm and perfect for a walk in the park.
  • Her animosity, or hatred, of her sister had divided the family.
  • Bill felt remorse, or shame, for his harsh words.
  • This situation is a conundrum – a puzzle.

2) CONTRAST/ANTONYM CLUES – Sometimes a word or phrase is clarified by the presentation of the opposite meaning somewhere close to its use. Look for signal words when applying context clues. Notice how the meaning of the darkened word is arrived at:

  • Emma had a lot of anxiety about the exam but I had no worries about it.
  • Marty is gregarious, not like his brother who is quiet and shy.
  • Instead of making risky decisions like his brother, George took precautions.

3) DEFINITION/EXPLANATION – Here the meaning of the unknown word is clearly given within the sentence or in the sentence immediately afterwards.

  • There is great prosperity in the country but many citizens are living in poverty.
  • Some celestial bodies, such as the planets and stars, can be seen with the naked eye.
  • There was a lot of tangible evidence, including fingerprints and DNA, to prove them guilty.
  • There is a 30 percent chance of precipitation, such as snow or sleet.

4) INFERENCE/GENERAL CONTEXT CLUES – Sometimes a word or phrase is immediately clarified within the same sentence. Relationships, which are not directly apparent, are inferred or implied. The reader must look for clues within, before, and after the sentence in which the word is used. The meaning can easily be inferred from the general context of the sentence or paragraph. Consider these sentences:

  • The team was elated when they won the trophy.
  • During the demonstration, a skirmish broke out and the police were called to restore order.
  • The cat has a kind disposition and would never bite or claw anyone.

5) EXAMPLE (specific types of the unknown word are given in the sentence. The unknown word is usually a non-specific noun. What is a beverage as shown in the sentence?

  • What type of beverage would you like? We have soda, water, lemonade, sweet tea and apple juice.

6) PUNCTUATION – Here Readers can also use clues of punctuation and type style to infer meaning, such as quotation marks (showing the word has a special meaning), dashes , parentheses or brackets (enclosing a definition), and italics (showing the word will be defined).

Notice how Punctuation is used in these sentence to define a word, haberdasher:

  • Tom’s father was a haberdasher, or men’s shop keeper, in the story.
  • Tom’s father was a haberdasher (men’s shop keeper) in the story.
  • In the story, Tom’s father was a haberdasher-or men’s shop keeper.
  • Tom’s father was a “haberdasher”. He had a clothing store for men.

pexels-photo-261895.jpegI have compiled a list of English@High School High Frequency Word List through phrasal sentences in which a highlighted word is used. Your task is to master the context in which the word is used so that when you write you pick the right word and vocabulary.

Again, Dear Reader, this needs practice.

A SYNONYM is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase.

In each of the following groups, the boldface word in the introductory phrase is given its meaning at the end.

  1. Waited for the storm to abate: decrease
  2. Abdicated the throne: renounce
  3. Aberrant nature of data: abnormal
  4. A coherent plan of action: meaningful  
  5. Unwilling to abet: encourage
  6. Abhorred all forms of . . : detest/dislike
  7. Live in abject poverty: wretched
  8. An abominable act: detestable
  9. Abandoned their abortive attempt: unsuccessful
  10. Abridge the novel: shorten
  11. Absolved him of his sins: pardoned
  12. A convivial group: merry
  13. Abstained from drinking: refrained
  14. summarily took control: briefly
  15. tenable conclusions: justifiable and defensible
  16. her memoirs contained fascinating anecdotes: short account of an event/stories
  17. watching the council in action is analogous to …: means comparable to …
  18. Our plans are still amorphous: lacking shape or definition
  19. . . . attempted to ameliorate the condition: improve
  20. His ambiguous instructions . . .: unclear, or doubtful in meaning

TOP TIP: Create flash cards – As you learn new vocabulary, try to scan through words that caused most difficult by creating pocket-sized flash cards for those unmastered expressions. Be brief, but include all the information you need: on one side write the word and the other side concise definitions of two/three words at most. You may include an antonym, if you can; and thus the synonym-antonym associations can help you remember both words. To fix the word in your mind, use it in a short phrase like the above words. Then write that phrase down.

Once again Dear Reader, with practice you will see your vocabulary improving so much: both written and spoken.

writing-notes-idea-conference.jpgLastly, READ SPECIAL VOCABULARY BOOKS

Reading is a good way to learn new words, but what you read can also make a huge difference in how much you learn.

Choose books that are a little bit challenging for you, and you will learn a lot more than if you read at your level. If you read a book at your level, you may already know all the words. If you read a challenging book, you will need to learn many new words.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: BE EMPOWERED and EXCEL!

COMMON IDIOMS IN USE 7

English@HighSchool would never be complete without idioms, proverbs, and expressions which are an important part of everyday English. They come up all the time in both written and spoken English. Because idioms and proverbs don’t always make sense literally, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the meaning and usage of each idiom. That may seem like a lot of work, but learning idioms is fun, especially when you compare English idioms and try to decipher their meanings.

An idiom is a common expression understood figuratively, as the literal definition makes no sense.

pexels-photo-943747.jpegEach sentence given below contains a boldfaced idiom/phrase which is explained at the end.

  1. A red herring is a distraction or an attempt to misdirect attention to something that is not important.
  2. To throw the baby out with the bathwater is to discard something valuable or useful along with something disagreeable or unusable.
  3. Something that is under wraps is kept a secret or not made public.
  4. To have a fire in one’s belly is to have a strong desire to accomplish difficult or creative tasks.
  5. To nickel and dime someone is an attempt to acquire a small financial advantage or gain.
  6. To eat one’s heart out is to become very jealous or resentful of another’s success.
  7. To be behind the eighth ball is to be stuck in a difficult situation.
  8. Left holding the bag means he or she receives the blame or responsibility for the actions of another.
  9. When someone bites their tongue, that person is refraining from saying something because of the feelings of another person.
  10. To build a nest egg is the total savings or material value possessed by a person or company.
  11. When the ball is in one’s court means he or she is responsible for the outcome of a decision.
  12. When the cat has someone’s tongue that person is uncharacteristically quiet in the face of charges or criticism.
  13. A diamond in the rough is a person or thing of rare quality found in an unexpected place.
  14. To pull one’s leg is to misinform or mislead a person for amusement.
  15. To hit the books means to study or to focus intensely on one’s academics..
  16. A kangaroo court is a trying body that judges people unfairly or without proper authority.
  17. A basket case is a person who is not emotionally fit to function.
  18. To push up daises is to no longer be of this world, to have passed away or perished.
  19. To wake up on the wrong side of the bed is to be grumpy or irritable for seemingly no reason.
  20. Ten dollar words are large or difficult vocabulary words that most people would not understand.

How did you find these idioms? Please leave a comment below.

red heart on a old opened book

Good luck in all your efforts.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL.

COMMON IDIOMS IN USE 6

English@HighSchool would never be complete without idioms, proverbs, and expressions which are an important part of everyday English. They come up all the time in both written and spoken English. Because idioms and proverbs don’t always make sense literally, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the meaning and usage of each idiom. That may seem like a lot of work, but learning idioms is fun, especially when you compare English idioms and try to decipher their meanings.

An idiom is a common expression understood figuratively, as the literal definition makes no sense.

pexels-photo-256417.jpegEach sentence given below contains a boldfaced idiom/phrase which is explained at the end.

  1. When the boy was caught stealing, everyone thought he would receive a severe punishment, but all he got was a slap on the wrist. This means that he received a very light and easy punishment.
  2. We thought that our neighbours were rich beyond our wildest dreams, but it turns out that we’re all in the same boat. This means that we were in very similar situations.
  3. If Ella thinks that I’m going to let her copy my math homework, she’s barking up the wrong tree. This means that Ella is asking the wrong person.
  4. United thought that they would easily beat Spurs, but when it was tied with a minute left, they knew that this game was really coming down to the wire. This means that the outcome of the game was not going to be clear until the very end.
  5. We thought Janet would be a good worker, but it turns out that she can’t cut the mustard. This means that Janet cannot perform the necessary duties.
  6. Marwa wanted to get down to brass tacks, but the lawyer kept chatting about the weather. This means that she wanted to talk about the important issues.
  7. The lawyer knew that beating around the bush would get Marwa all worked up. This means that the lawyer wanted to waste time.
  8. After playing for three straight games, Paul was beginning to run out of steam. This means that Paul was getting tired.
  9. Don’t get so worked up, mate. She’s only pulling your leg. This means that she is lying or fooling around.
  10. Jane decided that she would go out on a limb and ask Byron out. This means that she would take a chance.
  11. Tad was too tired to finish the assignment, so he decided to hit the hay. This means that he was going to sleep.
  12. Pearl was excited when she found out that she would have her own front row parking spot at the university, but that was just the icing on the cake. This means that she would receive greater benefits than the parking spot.
  13. Ever since Amy’s uncle bought the farm, she’s been faced with the difficult decision of dividing the inheritance amongst the family. This means that he died.
  14. Working at the Burger King was at first overwhelming to Aaron, but now he knows the ropes. This means that he learned how to perform his duties.
  15. Julie thought her mom would let her go to the party, but had no dice. This means that things did not go the way that she wanted them to go.

blur book close up data

How about learning the following idioms?

a. To “take it with a grain of salt” means to treat something as insignificant.

b. To “sell like hotcakes” means that something is selling very quickly.

c. Toget in a pickle” means to get stuck in a difficult situation.

d. To shed “crocodile tears” is to cry tears or display sadness that is not sincere.

e. To “push the envelope” is to go beyond what is normal or expected.

f. To “turn the other cheek” is to forgive an act of aggression.

g. To “go against the grain” is to oppose or resist a strong force.

How did you find these idioms? Please leave a comment below.

Good luck in all your efforts.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL.