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Mind Your Language

Commonly Confused Words

Many of your spelling errors may be caused by a confusion of words that have different spellings but similar pronunciations. Since the confused words sound alike, their pronunciation is no clue to their spelling. Instead you must rely on their meanings if you are to spell them correctly. Below is a list of some of these troublesome Sound-Alikes. They are words that you use frequently in writing, so be sure to learn then correctly. 
capital (leading city; money)
             Albany is the capital of New York.
             John has invested all her capital.
Capitol (only the name of a building)    
            Congress meet at the Capitol in Washington. 
hear (listen) 
             I could not hear my cellular phone because of the interference.
here (in this place)
             I shall wait for you here. 
its (belongs to it)
             The dog could not wag its tail.
it’s (it is)
             It’s the best of all possible worlds.
passed ( went by)
             I passed the library on the way to class.
past ( a former time)
             Those who forget their past can be lost. 
peace (the absence of war and strife)
             The United Nations hopes to bring peace to the world.
piece ( a portion)
             Have a piece of pie with your tea.
principal (most important; chief person; the original amount of a loan)
             What is the principal idea of this essay?
             Ms. Dean is the school principal.
             I have paid the interest of fifty dollars on the principal.
principle (a basic doctrine or rule)
             The many principles of physics are difficult to learn.
then ( at that time)
             We went to an early dinner, and then we went home.
than (used to compare unequal things)
             His essay was longer than mine.
their ( belonging to them)
             It is their privilege to vote against the amendment.
there ( at that place)
             There is the oldest schoolhouse in America.
they’re (they are)
             They’re the best friends one could hope for.
to (toward; part of the infinitive)
             John gave his schedule to me.
             They like to condemn all his decisions.
too (also; more than enough)
             I like coffee too.
             Children watch too much TV.
Two (the number 2)
             We consulted two doctors.
weather (the state of the atmosphere)
             The weather was fine for a trip to the lake.
whether (indicates a choice)
             Pham could not decide whether to stay home or to go out.
who’s ( who is)
           Who's your teacher?
whose ( belonging to whom)
             Whose books are these?
Your (belonging to you)
          It is your decision to make.
you’re ( you are)
             You’re my best friend. 


 Memory tricks are especially helpful for learning these Sound-Alikes.
Remember that you hear with your ear.
We waited here and not there.
The principal is my pal and the chief person in the school.
The principle is a rule.
The capitol has a dome.
The weather was clear.
He ate a piece of pie.

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