Writing Mini-Lessons: Homonyms

Homonyms are words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Homonym means, literally, “same name.” Improper use of a homonym is a spelling error with extreme consequences (e.g., being hung from the ceiling by your toenails).

Commonly Misspelled Homonyms: Definitions and Examples

THEIR — Belongs to a them (The teacher stole their M&M’s.)
THEY’RE — They are (They’re the world’s best candies.)
THERE — In that place; as an introductory adverb. (There they are: on the teacher’s desk. There can never be enough M&M’s.)

TWO — The number (Two or three packages of M&M’s provide a nutritious after-school snack.)
TOO — In addition (ALSO) or more than enough (He, too, eats too many M&M’s.)
TO — Preposition meaning “toward” or used with the infinitive of a verb (I’m going to M&M heaven, where I’m going to eat many M&M’s.)

YOUR — Belongs to a you (Your M&M’s are my M&M’s.)
YOU’RE — You are (You’re in my power; hand over your M&M’s.)

ITS — Belongs to an it (The dog ate its M&M’s and wanted mine.)
IT’S — It is (It’s that kind of day when I crave M&M’s.)

Homonym Review: Their, There, and They’re
Test your knowledge of their, there, and they’re by using the appropriate homonym in each blank.

1. ___________________ aren’t any pencils left in the cup.
2. They think ___________________ so cool.
3. ___________________ excited about the tofu dessert, poor things.
4. ___________________ is my favorite kind of car.
5. I like ___________________ Lear jet; it’s cute.
6. ___________________ hermit crab escaped.
7. ___________________ playing Ultimate Frisbee.
8. Don’t go ___________________ without a bodyguard.
9. They think ___________________ going to get away with it.
10. ___________________ is ___________________ pet rat, which __________________ taking to Disney World.

Homonym Review: Its and It’s and Your and You’re
Test your knowledge of the homonym pairs its/it’s and your/you’re by using the appropriate homonym in each blank.

ITS or IT’S?
1. The Declaration of Independence draws _________ strength
from the writing, most of it Thomas Jefferson’s.
2. The hermit crab finished eating _________ dog biscuit.
3. _________ going to be another cold day.
4. I chose this book because I know _________ author.
5. I don’t think _________ nice to put your finger in your nose.
6. _________ funny when she gives people the evil eye.

1. Is that a new sweater _________ wearing?
2. Do you think _________ coming to my house after school?
3. _________ getting on my nerves.
4. Leave _________ attitude outside.
5. This isn’t _________ day, is it?
6. I think _________ great.

Now, join the FUN! and write two of your own, one for ITS/IT’S and one for YOUR/YOU’RE.