Homophones with an apostrophe

REMEMBER:

GREEN for RIGHT
RED for WRONG

A homophone is one of a pair of words such as pain & pane, (or even one of a group of more than two words such as their, there & they’re) where the words have the same sound / pronunciation, but have different meanings and different spellings. Once upon a time, these words were classified as HOMONYMS. Nowadays, HOMONYMS are regarded as words which have the same spelling and pronunciation, but have different meanings, such as left, park, point, etc. And to confuse matters even more, a HOMOGRAPH is a word which has the same spelling as another word, but has a different pronunciation and a different meaning. Examples are: row, bow, live, etc. Having said all that, there’s a lot of overlapping with definitions in this area. The most important thing, however, is that one should have the right spelling, for the right word, at the right time and for the right place. Now, is right a HOMOPHONE, a HOMONYM or a HOMOGRAPH?

WHY IS THERE A PROBLEM?

There is a tendency to mix up the words in each pair. In two separate articles – by the same journalist – in the Irish Examiner of 19/01/2013, there were two basic grammatical errors which marred fine pieces of writing on Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. One of them was:

So anyone whose taken…. It should’ve been: So anyone who’s taken…

Incidentally, the other mistake was:

Only Armstrong knows the exact truth of what he done in the past.

A RED CARD (permanent) for Lance and a YELLOW CARD – not the YELLOW JERSEY – for the journalist!

EXAMPLES:

Your sick. (instead of You’re sick.)
and
Whose there? (instead of Who’s there?)

EXPLANATION OF RULE:

your & you’re

your = PERSONAL PRONOUN – in the POSSESSIVE CASE – or POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVE
your is usually followed by a NOUN — your dog / money / car / house / computer, etc., or an ADJECTIVE, as in, your friendly shopkeeper.

you’re = you are (contraction of PRONOUN and VERB)

Take note that your – though a belonging word – doesn’t have an apostrophe, whereas the apostrophe in you’re is a joining apostrophe.

Generally, belonging words have apostrophes, but not in the case of your.

whose and who’s

whose = PRONOUN — usually followed by a NOUN, as in, whose dog / car ? etc., or a VERB, as in, whose is it?

who = PRONOUN
who’s = who is or who has, but not who was (contraction of PRONOUN & VERB)

Again, the belonging word whose doesn’t have an apostrophe, whereas the apostrophe in who’s is a joining apostrophe.

USAGE:

Your wrong.
You’re wrong. (You are…)

Your going to Dublin.
You’re going to Dublin. (You are…)

You’re bike is in the garden.
Your bike is in the garden. (bike belongs to you)

You’re team is losing.
Your team is losing. (the team that you support)

Your on the team.
You’re on the team. (You are…)

Whose there?
Who’s there? (Who is…?)

Who’s book was stolen?
Whose book was stolen? (a book belonging to A NOUN, i.e. someone)

Whose going?
Who’s going? (Who is…?)

Whose been to London?
Who’s been to London? (Who has…?)

The child – who’s name I forget – has black hair.
The child – whose name I forget – has black hair. (whose refers to the NOUN child)

QUICK REVISION:

Contrary to expectations, the belonging your & the belonging whose do not have apostrophes.

TEST:

Complete these sentences with the correct homophone. (Capital Letters only at the start of a sentence)

1. ________ right. (Your / You’re)
2. ________ right hand is bleeding. (You’re / Your)
3. ________ far too lazy for ______ own good. (Your / You’re)
4. ________ going to have to wait for ______ brother. (Your / You’re)
5. ________ friend knocked ______ sack off ________ desk. (You’re / Your)
6. ________ been eating my porridge? (Whose / Who’s)
7. ________written that essay? (Who’s / Whose)
8. ________writing is that? (Whose / Who’s)
9. ________fishing rod is broken? (Who’s / Whose)
10. ________fishing on the far side of the river? (Whose / Who’s)

ANSWERS:

1. You’re
2. Your
3. You’re / your
4. You’re / your
5. Your / your / your
6. Who’s
7. Who’s
8. Whose
9. Whose
10. Who’s

KEY ELEMENT OF LESSON:

Generally, your (POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVE) precedes NOUNS, while you + are always = you’re = PRONOUN + VERB joined together.

If in doubt, try the joined – up word with the apostrophe first, and say THE TWO WORDS SEPARATELY and ALOUD. It will become much clearer when you hear yourself. This approach uses the process of elimination.

EXAMPLE:

________sandwiches were put in the bin? (Whose / Who’s)

Select who’s first and proceed accordingly.
As who’s = who is or who has, take one at a time.
Who is sandwiches were put in the bin? (makes no sense)
Who has sandwiches were put in the bin? (again makes no sense)
So, the correct answer must be: Whose sandwiches were put in the bin?

DON’T FORGET:

You’re on your own when you have to find out who’s been complaining about whose luggage was left behind.


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There / They

REMEMBER: GREEN for RIGHT RED for WRONG WHY IS THERE A PROBLEM? We'll put this one down to a slip...

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