Misused Words: Are vs Our

Are and our are tricky homophones; however, there is a simple solution. The best way to tell them apart is to remember that they are two different parts of speech.

are vs our

Are is the verb *to be* in plural form.

For example: They are buying lots of books.

For example: Are you going to purchase any books?


Our is a pronoun that indicates possession.

For example: Our dog ran to our neighbor’s house.

For example: Where is our dog?


Here is an example of the two words in the same sentence:

Are you going to take our car to the book signing?

Yes, it is really that simple. 🙂 For your convenience, here is a downloadable pdf of this post to keep handy in case you need a refresher. (No opt-in required.)


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Misused Words: Complement vs Compliment

Complement and compliment are very confusing words because they are homophones. The words sound exactly alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings.

Misused Words: Complement vs Compliment

The word complement means to go together well or to round off something.

For example: The work book will complement the text-book nicely. (The work book rounds off the text-book by offering something extra to help the reader.)

For example: Meat and potatoes are perfect complements. (Of course, meat and potatoes almost always go well together.)

Compliment means to flatter or praise someone or something.

For example: The teacher complimented the student for her neat penmanship. (The teacher flattered or praised the student for the neat penmanship.)

For example: The publisher gave Piper a compliment for finishing her rough draft so soon. (The publisher praised Piper for finishing her draft before expected.)

There is no easy way to remember the difference between the two except to remember them. However, as far-fetched as it sounds, you could try to remember that complement and well (goes well) both have an e and that compliment and praise but have an i. 🙂


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What are Homographs?

Remember when I explained the difference between homophones and homonyms? I didn’t want to confuse you by adding homographs into the mix but they are also a source of confusion for people. Therefore, I am going to briefly explain them now.

Image by ArtsyBee (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Image by ArtsyBee (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Homographs are words are DIFFERENT in (sometimes) ORIGIN, MEANING, and (usually) PRONUNCIATION but have the SAME SPELLING.

For example: Wind and wind are homographs. They have a DIFFERENT (but similar) ORIGIN, a DIFFERENT MEANING, and a DIFFERENT PRONUNCIATION but have the SAME SPELLING. (The wind is strong today. Make sure you wInd up the string tightly so it doesn’t fall apart.)

In this example the first wind has the short vowel “i” and the second wind has a long vowel “i”.

It is all about context and clarity so when you proofread your work don’t forget to double-check your homonyms, homophones and homographs!

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