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Commonly Mistaken Homonyms: A Picture Guide

Written by tutor Lynne S.

Its, it's

Their, there, they're

Your, you're

The words in red are possessive, meaning they indicate that something belongs to someone.

Each word above in blue is a contraction, which means a pronoun and verb put together. The apostrophe takes the place of a missing letter.

Let’s look at them one set at a time.

its and it's

its = belonging to it

it's = it is (the ' takes the place of the second i)

Grab the umbrella by its handle because it's raining.

its handle - the handle belongs to the umbrella

it's raining = it is raining

Their, There, and They're

Their = belonging to them

There = -----> not here but over there

They're = they are (the ' takes the place of the a in "are")

They're going to move their chairs overe there.

They're = they are (going to move...)

Their chairs - the chairs belong to each of them

There - the chairs are being moved to a different place: over there, not here

Your and You're

Your = belonging to you

You're = you are (the ' takes the place of a)

You're going to need yourcoat.

You're = you are (going to need...)

Your coat = the coat that belongs to you

Dear and Deer

dear = greeting in a letter or beloved

deer =

Dear Aunt Sally,

I was with my dear friend when we saw a deer in the woods.

desert and dessert

desert =                                                dessert =      

I had ice cream for dessert, but it melted because I was in the hot desert.

Tip: Dessert has two "S"'s because it is twice as sweet - and everyone wants more dessert.

know and no

know = to have knowledge of
no = negative, opposite of yes

You said "no" when I asked if you still live in Kansas. Now I know that you moved to Georgia.

miner and minor

miner = someone who works in a mine, digging for coal or diamonds.
minor = 1. someone under 18
2. not very serious or important

Miners work hard, doing dangerous and dirty work.

A minor is too young to sign a legal contract. Minor has an o because oh, you are not old enough yet!

No one was hurt in the car accident. It was just a minor fender bender.

peer and pier

peer = someone who is an equal (of the same age, grade level or similar job status)

pier = a structure built partly on land, partly on water for boats to dock      

A fisherman took a few of his peers (other fishermen) to the pier on the lake. Pier has an i because it is used by people who want to go fishing.

right or write

right = 1. something you should be allowed to do or
2. on the right side (not left)
write = put words on paper

The Constitution says that we have the right to write letters complaining to our government officials.
Unless you are left-handed, you probably write with your right hand.
Write starts with a w because it means to put words on paper.

then and than

then = 1. a different time, not now
2. as a result, usually after "if"
than = used when making a comparison

If not now, then when?
I used to be a good runner, but I was much younger then.
First you defrost the meat, and then you turn the oven on.
If you are getting cold, then put on a sweater.

My shirt is a lighter shade of yellow than Mike's shirt.
I would rather walk in the park than go to the gym.

to, too, two

to = preposition, as in: Let's go to the store.                     two = a number
too = 1. also, 2. extremely

Mom took two baskets of fruit to the food bank, and I did too! However, some of the grapes fell out of one basket because it had too many grapes.

toe and tow

toe =                                 tow =           

I stubbed my toe, and now it hurts.

My parents gave me a present. It was a new car with a bow.
However I crashed it, and now it needs a tow.

Notice that bow and tow rhyme, and after the first letter, they are spelled the same.

weather and whether

weather = how it feels outside:          
hot, cold, dry, or wet

whether = if

Due to this unpredictable weather, I don't know whether I should carry an umbrella.

Tips: Remember that the phrase "whether he writes or not" repeats the "he."
In hot weather, you eat ice cream. In cold weather, you eat soup.

Homonyms Practice Quiz

For each of the following questions, write each answer in the box provided. Answer choices are in [brackets]. Questions will have more than one answer, so write your answers in the order that they appear, separated with a comma (,).

[Its, It’s] hard to say [weather, whether] the crashed car will need a [toe, tow].

The correct answer is: "It's hard to say whether the crashed car will need a tow."

{It's, whether, tow|tow, whether, It's|whether, tow, It's}

Please take only [to, too, two] cookies because three is [to, too, two] many.

The correct answer is: "Please only take two cookies because three is too many."

{two, too}

I went [to, too, two] the [peer, pier] for some fishing with some [dear, deer] friends of mine.

The correct answer is: "I went to the pier for some fishing with dear friends of mine."

{to, pier, dear|pier, to, dear|dear, pier, to}

In the woods, I saw some [dear, deer] and one had spots on [its, it’s] back legs.

The correct answer is: "In the woods, I saw some deer and one had spots on its back legs."

{deer, its|its, deer}

The [miners, minors] came home from work with coal dust on [there, their, they’re] clothes.

The correct answer is: "The miners came home from work with coal dust on their clothes."

{miners, their|their, miners}

[There, Their, They’re] in the [desert, dessert] was a rabbit hopping around a cactus.

The correct answer is: "There in the desert was a rabbit hopping around a cactus."

{There, desert|desert, there}

The Constitution says if you are accused of a crime, you have the [right, write] to a jury of your [peers, piers].

The correct answer is: "The Constitution says if you are accused of a crime, you have the right to a jury of your peers."

{right, peers|peers, right}

[Dear, Deer] Uncle Joe, I’m sorry but [no, know], I can’t come to [your, you’re] party.

The correct answer is: "Dear Uncle Joe, I'm sorry but no, I can't come to your party."

{Dear, no, your|no, your, dear|your, no, dear}

That cake [your, you’re] eating looks good. I want [desert, dessert], [to, too, two]!

The correct answer is: "That cake you're eating looks good. I want dessert, too!"

{you're, dessert, too|too, dessert, you're|dessert, you're, too}

I can hear them, so I [no, know] that [there, their, they’re] close!

The correct answer is: "I can hear them, so I know that they're close!"

{know, they're|they're, know}

He can’t vote this year because he will still be a [miner, minor] on Election Day.

The correct answer is: "He can't vote this year because he will still be a minor on Election Day."


I hurt my [right, write] hand, so I had to [right, write] the letter with my left hand. However, my hand should heal soon because the injury was [miner, minor].

The correct answer is: "I hurt my right hand, so I had to write the letter with my left hand. However, my hand should heal soon because the injury was minor."

{right, write, minor}

I have an uncle who says his [toe, tow] itches right before rain or other bad [weather, whether], but I think he’s crazy.

The correct answer is: "I have an uncle who says his toe itches right before rain or other bad weather, but I think he's crazy."

{toe, weather|weather, toe}

If you would rather go outside [than, then] watch tv, [than, then] go soon.

The correct answer is: "If you would rather go outside than watch tv, then go soon."

{than, then}

Tell them to first put [there, their, they’re] shoes on and [than, then] they can go outside.

The correct answer is: "Tell them to first put their shoes on and then they can go outside."

{their, then|then, their}
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