Homophones: Which witch?

homophones which witch

Which witch?

A reader left the following comment inquiring about the spelling of two sets of homophones:

“I have trouble with witch/which (and even so, I am not sure I have those right) and weather/wheather [sic]. any good ideas on how to keep them straight???”

I’ve already written a post addressing the difference between weather and whether.

Today, I’ll share some tips to help you remember how to toggle comfortably between the homophones which and witch.

First, We Spell Our Homophones

Spelling is too appropriate, since we are discussing witches (Get it? Spell). The first step is to memorize the correct spelling of both words:

which
witch

Which witch?


Which witch? These two words sound exactly alike but they are totally different. In short, one of these is a mythological or supernatural individual who casts spells. The other is not a person at all; in fact it is merely a pronoun. How can you remember the difference?

  • Who, what, and where are also pronouns that start with the letters wh — just like the word which as in which pronoun do you like best?
  • A person may itch but a pronoun may not, and like the word itch, the witch that is a person has a t in its spelling.
  • Try to remember the phrase itch the witch. Notice that witch (a person who can itch) is spelled the same as itch with a w tacked on to the beginning.

Homophones are challenging for lots of people but you can find easy tricks to help you remember the difference between words that sound alike but are spelled differently.

Next time someone asks which witch you’ll know exactly what to tell them.

Are there any homophones that give you grief? Got any tricks for remembering the difference between which and witch? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!

About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.

Comments

21 Responses to “Homophones: Which witch?”

  1. Joanna Young says:

    Hi Melissa, guess I’m lucky, where I’m from (Scotland) these aren’t homophones at all. The “wh” makes a whistling sound. When I was growing up in the south of England my dad schooled me over and over again to pronounce my “wh”s properly, which has made spelling them a heck of a lot easier over the years!

    Joanna

  2. KatFrench says:

    The one that usually trips me up is “its” and “it’s”–I have to go over most of my writing, looking for that apostrophe, and asking myself “Can I replace the word with ‘it is’?”

    Whose/who’s is similiar. I always fall back on my parts of speech for both. Thank God for School House Rock or my grammar would be awful.

    Heck, if Cyberchase had been on when I was a kid, I might not have stunk so badly at math… ;)

  3. Joanna, you are lucky! With all the homophones in American English, many people struggle with spellings, and errors are rampant. A different pronunciation would help immensely, not that we can just implement one now! I wonder what other English speaking countries have variations on words that are homophones in America. Maybe we’ll hear from some of our Aussie and British friends on this one…

  4. Kat, I think its/it’s is one of the trickier ones, because of course, we expect to use the possessive apostrophe when “it” belongs to someone. I too find that keeping the contraction of “it is” in mind is the best way to remember, and I also have ingrained my own brain to keep in mind that “its” is a glaring exception to the rules of English spelling.

    Whose/who’s is definitely similar. Can’t say I know what Cyberchase is (I’m guessing an educational TV show?) but I definitely remember Schoolhouse Rock :)

  5. Katherine Huether says:

    I think we all have our little writing quirks. At least, I do. For the longest time, I was spelling recommended with two c’s and one m. And, it took me several years (pretty much all of high school) to finally internalize when to use “to” and “too”. This was an informative post, thanks!

  6. Jaden says:

    That was the funnest grammar lesson ever! Witches spell well. Thanks.

    I like the Scotland woman’s comment. The difference in dialects is interesting.

    I was the only person in my college screenwriting class to win the $2 from the professor for the challenge of never erring on the its/it’s, there/their/they’re, and your/you’re!

  7. @Jaden, Thank you! This one was fun to write as well. Good job on winning the $2 back in college!

  8. GeekMom says:

    Here are a couple more. There’s “a rat” in “separate” (not seperate). The principal is our pal (not principle).

  9. GeekMom, those are good ones! I’ve heard the principal phrase, but not the one for separate (which is a tricky one!). Thanks for sharing these!

  10. Edinburgh Lover says:

    Thanks for clarifying that. Now if someone could help me with the sentence contexts of using the words sit/set, I’d be all set!

  11. @Edinburgh Lover, I think sit/set works like lay/lie. When the subject is taking the action, it’s sit (lie). (I sit, he sat, she sits, etc.) but when the subject is performing the action on an object, it’s set (I set the timer, he set the book on the table, etc.). We could probably go a lot deeper into sit/set, but that’s the off-the-top-of-my-head version ;)

  12. Sherri says:

    A lot is like a little (a reminder that a lot is tow words!)

  13. @Sherri, That’s a good way to remember “a lot.” Nice!

  14. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for the itchy witch. My dyslectic daughter will appreciate that. A teacher once told my class ‘the boy’s hat’ is short for ‘the boy, his hat’. Then you can use it like a contraction. I use that all the time. Hope that helps someone.

  15. Suzey says:

    Together is to get her! :) That ones always been tricky for me to spell. Sometimes when I use the word together there will be spaces!

  16. Brandy Marks says:

    I tutor a young boy and two words he often confuses are there and their. I’ve tried repeatedly to get the point across that their refers to people, which there generally refers to a place. I suppose if he hears it often enough — the correct usage — he’ll finally get it. I have him change the wording/spelling every time, in the hopes that this will come to pass.