When I see professional signs or business documents with words spelled incorrectly, it’s like someone’s dragging nails down a chalkboard, which is something I don’t want to hear.
But I try not to get too riled up. I know that spelling isn’t easy for everyone. However, I do believe that with a little effort, anyone can learn the proper spelling of a word.
I also realize that homophones present a special challenge, because when two words sound exactly alike but are spelled differently, we have to work a little harder to remember which spelling goes with which definition.
Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but have different spellings and different meanings. These confusing words have instigated many headaches among writers, editors, and readers as well as the general population.
Some homophones are easier to master than others. Luckily, today, one of our homophones has an easy, built-in way to remember what it means and how it’s spelled.
The words hear and here have similar spellings and are pronounced exactly the same, but they have very different meanings. According to dictionary.com, here are the basic definitions of these homophones:
Hear (verb) – to perceive by the ear. I hear music.
Here (adverb) – in this place; in this spot or locality (as opposed to there). You are there and I am here.
Once you know what these words mean, all you have to do is find a way to remember when to use them properly in context. To do that, focus on the word hear. Take a close look at it and you’ll see that hear is simply the word ear with the letter h in front of it. And since you hear with your ear(s), it shouldn’t be difficult to remember that when you’re using the word hear in reference to listening or taking in sounds, you should use the spelling that has the word ear embedded in it.
Past Tense of Hear
The word “hear” is a bonus homophone because its past tense, “heard,” is also a homophone in its own right. Don’t confuse heard (as in I heard that song yesterday) with herd (as in Did you see that herd of buffalo?). Again, just remember that if it’s related to listening, it should have the word ear within its spelling.
To learn more about homophones and other word groups with similar pronunciations and confusing spellings, read Homophones, Homonyms, and Homographs.
Do you have any tricks you use to remember the difference between hear and here? Are there any other homophones that give you trouble? Share your tips and questions by leaving a comment.