Homophones are words that sound alike but have different meanings. Many homophones also have different spellings, and all too often, people mix them up.
The result is an onslaught of misspellings throughout the written universe.
Although these mistakes are understandable, they are problematic since they are contagious. If someone sees a homophone used incorrectly or misspelled enough times, they will assume the usage is correct and adopt it.
Thus the errors spread.
Ideally we’d make sure our language doesn’t contain these types of words. I’m sure we are creative enough to come up with completely new words, but unfortunately, language evolves of its own accord, so we must make do with what we have.
Today, we’ll look at two sets of homophones that have connections to music. The first set of homophones is bass and base. The second is chord and cord. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to use only common definitions of these homophones.
Homophones: Bass and Base
Both words, bass and base, rhyme with the following words: ace, face, lace, and race.
In music, there’s a word that’s generally used in lieu of the word low. That word is bass. There’s a bass clef, a bass guitar, and even bass speakers, which make cars go boom. All of these indicate sound that is low in tone. As you can see, this word can function as both a noun and adjective:
- On piano, the left hand plays the bass clef while the right hand plays the treble clef. (adjective)
- Charlie Pace played the bass. (noun)
- Those bass speakers are too loud! (adjective)
It’s not a fish! Bass is an odd word because it looks like it should be pronounced to rhyme with class. Actually, when referring to fish, it is pronounced that way. Just remember when talking about sound and music, it’s spelled b-a-s-s and the a is a hard vowel.
This word is not nearly as fun, even though it sounds just like bass. Its meaning usually indicates the bottom or core of something. It can also mean that from which something comes. This versatile word can function as a noun, adjective, or verb.
- The base ingredient is flour. (adjective)
- It looked like a home run but he only got to third base. (noun)
- We don’t base our opinions on falsehoods. (verb)
Base sounds just like bass, but its spelled differently and doesn’t inherently deal with music or sound.
Homophones: Chord and Cord
In music, when you play three or more notes simultaneously, that’s a chord. The word chord is also used to refer to emotion.
- Can you play a C chord on the guitar?
- That episode really struck a chord with me.
You know that thing that connects your computer to the wall? That’s a cord. The same word refers to lengths of string or thin rope, such as the drawstring cord in the waistband of your sweatpants. A cord can also be a unit of volume. This word is a noun.
- Can you plug this cord into the wall?
- Tie it with a cord!
- I just ordered a cord of firewood.
Have you ever struggled with the spelling of bass or base? What about chord or cord? Many people find homophones challenging, but they’re actually pretty easy to learn if you just take the time. Share your thoughts on these and other homophones by leaving a comment.