Writing is hard. There are rules. There are exceptions to the rules. Sometimes the exception is the rule. Throw-in perspective, irregular verbs, punctuation, and style and you’ve created alphabet soup with a side of insanity.
I’ve been sifting through books on writing, and have finally found a useful one. Jan Venolia’s Write Right! is the first writing book I couldn’t put down, despite what would seem like the most boring content in the world to a fiction aficionado. It’s straight up talk about grammar, words, style, and punctuation – just the facts ma’am. I’ve learned a lot, and I plan to dedicate three or four posts to my key takeaways.
The first thing I would like to share with you will not be that helpful, other than shedding light on why English is such a frustrating language. Check out these three classifications of similar words…it’s amazing we ever learn to speak at all.
Homonyms – Words that are spelled and pronounced the same but have different definitions. Beet (noun) and beat (verb). Blue (adjective) and blew (verb). I bet this is a huge problem when people learn English as a second language. Check out Alan Cooper’s huge list of homonyms.
Homographs – Words that are spelled the same but have different definitions and sometimes pronunciations. Fair (noun) and fair (adjective). Wound (noun) and wound (verb). Subject (noun) and subject (verb). More information on homographs, and their conservative cousins heteronyms, can be found here.
Homophones – Words that are pronounced the same but have different spellings and definitions. Their (pronoun), there (adjective), and they’re (contraction). Pair (noun), pare (verb), and pear (noun). Write (verb) and right (adjective). You can check out this extensive list for more English homophones.
As I mentioned, I’m not sure how this information can help you in any way, other than arming you with the vocabulary to verbally thrash the English language. Enjoy!