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Homophone Potpourri Series

 

My, how time flies! The last several months have been incredibly busy for me, so I had to put Grammar Tips & Tidbits on the back burner for a while. I greatly appreciate your patience during my hiatus!

 

Let's kick things off again with my favorite series: Homophone Potpourri. The English language brings with it a never-ending list of homophones, or  words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings.¹ Many spelling errors occur because of confusion between homophones, so this week's tip features a "potpourri" of homophones for your comparison.

The following definitions are excerpts from Dictionary.com. Example sentences are original content provided by Accu-Assist.
 

Premier vs. Premiere
Common error:
  Incorrect:  This is our premiere line of automobiles.

Correct:     This is our premier line of automobiles.
 
●   Premier: first in rank; chief; leading. (adj)
  Example:  He insisted on staying at a premier hotel during his visit.
 
●   Premiere: a first public performance or showing of a play, opera, film, etc. (noun)
  Example: The movie premiere is scheduled for Thursday evening.
 
Shear vs. Sheer
Common error:
  Incorrect:  The look on her face was one of shear terror.

Correct:     The look on her face was one of sheer terror.
 
●   Shear: to remove by or as if by cutting or clipping with a sharp instrument: to shear wool from sheep. (verb)
  Example: Here's the name of a groomer who can shear your poodle.
 
●   Sheer: unqualified; utter: sheer nonsense. (adj)
  Example: This could only be the result of sheer ignorance.
 
●   Sheer: transparently thin; diaphanous, as some fabrics: sheer stockings.  (adj)
  Example: Surely she didn't realize how sheer her dress was!
 
Adverse vs. Averse
Common error:
  Incorrect:   Monica had an averse reaction to the medication.

Correct:      Monica had an adverse reaction to the medication.
 
●   Adverse: unfavorable or antagonistic in purpose or effect: adverse criticism.  (adj)
  Example:  The rise in the cost of steel has had an adverse effect on the company's bottom line.
 
●   Averse: having a strong feeling of opposition, antipathy, repugnance, etc.; opposed: He is not averse to having a drink now and then. (adj)
  Example: Many investors have become increasingly averse to risk since the market crashed.
 

To clarify further, Dictionary.com includes the following usage note with the definition of adverse:

 

   

The adjectives adverse and averse are related both etymologically and semantically, each having "opposition" as a central sense.

 

Adverse is seldom used of people but rather of effects or events, and it usually conveys a sense of hostility or harmfulness: adverse reviews; adverse winds; adverse trends in the economy. Related nouns are adversity and adversary: Adversities breed bitterness. His adversaries countered his every move.

 

Averse is used of persons and means "feeling opposed or disinclined"; it often occurs idiomatically with a preceding negative to convey the opposite meaning "willing or agreeable," and is not interchangeable with Adverse in these contexts: We are not averse to holding another meeting. The related noun is aversion: She has a strong aversion to violence. Averse is usually followed by to, in older use occasionally by from.

   


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Sources:

1. Wikipedia contributors. "Homophone." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homophone (accessed March 21, 2010).

2. Dictionary.com. http://dictionary.reference.com/ (accessed March 21, 2010).