Friday, May 10, 2013

Posted by Laurel Garver on Friday, May 10, 2013 2 comments
In my continuing series Homophone Helps, we'll be looking at three sound-alikes I've frequently seen confused both online and in some self-published books. Getting a handle on which word belongs in which context is so important because, for the most part, your computer's spell check won't catch this sort of error.

Sight

Photo credit: blackbird for morguefile.com
(n.) the power or ability to see; perception; something that is seen; a device that helps the eye aim at or find the direction of an object; aspiration.

(v., trans.) to catch a glimpse of; to aim using a sight; to test the straightness of

(v., intrans) to aim; to look carefully in one direction

Examples
That was a sight for sore eyes!

Jose lost his sight in the accident; now he's learning Braille.

Cullen caught his prey in the rifle sight.

She set her sights on winning the scholarship.

He sighted Melody coming across the field toward him.

That sharpshooter can sight targets a hundred yards away.

Mnemonic
Glasses and goggles protect your sight.

Site

(n.) the location of an actual or planned structure; the scene, point or place of an event or occurrence

photo credit: morguefile.com
(v., trans) to place in position or at a location

Examples
The new building site has marvelous views of the river.

Dr. Hendrix pinpointed the site of the tumor.

Mack sited the fountain a few feet from the path.

Mnemonic
He has a bump on the site where the mite did bite.

Cite

Photo: johninportland; morguefile.com
(v., trans.) to quote as an authority, example or proof; to refer to; to bring to another's attention; to call upon officially or authoritatively to appear

The noun form is citation.

Examples
Gladys frequently cited her yogi's words of wisdom.

If you're going to quote Faulkner in your essay, be sure to correctly cite the source and pages.

Lia was cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

Mnemonic
Carefully cross-reference what you cite in this composition.


Here's a tough one for you: Do you go to see the sights? or the sites?

Context is everything! If you mean "stuff to be seen," like vistas or exciting venues, it's sights.
If you mean locations for a specific purpose, like where buildings will go up or film will be shot, it's sites.

Which of these trip you up? Any other homophones you'd like me to tackle?

2 comments:

  1. Sights of course!

    I'm a bit biased here, I usually think people are typing too fast to use these correctly.

    ......dhole

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The internet has made "site," short for Website, much more common, and because it's something you look at, rather than a physical place, spelling confusion can arise. Cite is the least common, so some aren't aware of this word's existence.

      Delete