A painting portrait of English playwright William Shakespeare. he is dressed in formal clothes typical of the 16th Century.

Source: William Shakespeare, playwright, The Huntington,

Spelling correctly is just as important as capitalizing correctly. Unfortunately, the English language is tricky, and you can’t always rely on rules to help you. However, some rules are pretty consistent, like changing a y to ie to make a word plural. (For example, story changes to stories.) We’ve all heard “i before e except after c, and when sounding like a as in neighbor and weigh." Some rules have exceptions.There are homophones that may confuse you. Do you know when to use there, their, or they’re? Do you remember the difference between principal and principle? The best thing to do if you are unsure of a word’s correct spelling is to look it up in a dictionary or online.

Let’s consider some confusing homophones. Read the sentences below and use the pull-down menus to select the correct spelling of certain words.

icon for an interactive exercise

You probably learned most of the homophones in the sentences above in elementary school. However, many people still mix up their words and choose the incorrect spelling. Just remember that it never hurts to look up a word if you are unsure of the spelling. It is important to be correct.