Magic Spell Jar Post Eleven (41-45)

41. Tear, Tear, Tare

Tear with an ear sound TEER is a droplet of moisture from your eye. I laughed so hard a tear ran down my legs.

Tear with an air sound means to rip. Don’t tear the page from that book.

Tare is also pronounced with an air sound. It is the weight of the packaging of an item. If you are weighing a steak, you need to deduct the tare weight before pricing.

 42. Right, Write, Rite

Right means correct. Or it can mean a position: The right answer can be found in the first chapter. Your right side is opposite your left side. I have seen the left side referred to as the sinister side.

Write is to mark something down on paper or other substance. You can write in steam or frost on your window pane.

Do you write right on the wet cement with your right hand? Confusing?

Rite is a ceremony, often religious but not always.  Baptism is a rite. Use this spelling in the common phrase “rite of passage” referring to a coming of age encounter or act.

43.Peak, Peek, Pique

Pique is also pronounced like peek. It means slight anger or a bad mood or a snit. Or to put someone in such a mood or create an interest in something. The song piqued an interest in bongo drums. In a fit of pique, he threw the pen to the floor.

Peak is the uppermost, like a peak of a mountain.

Peek is to look, usually furtively.

Early in the morning the sun will peek over the mountain peak.

44. Shoe, shoo

Shoe is what you wear on your foot.

Shoo is to chase out, usually gently.

Recently I read a line that went, “He was a shoe in.” It conjured a picture of a boot thrown into a circle. Of course, the writer should have said, “He was a shoo in,” meaning an easy win of a contest or election.”

45.  Site, Sight

Site is a place, like a contstruction site or a web site.

The site had a long and goofy address;

Sight has to do with vision.

The sight of the snow made me shiver, although I was in a nice warm room looking through a window.


Magic Spell Jar Post Ten (36 – 40)

36. Wait, Weight

Wait means to hang around until someone has time for you – or until something is about to begin – or to serve people, as a waiter

Weight is what most people seem to be battling.  It measures how much gravity pulls on you.  This weight has an eight in it but it in a perfect world, it would have an ate in it. Sorry, bad pun.

37. Wined and Whined

Wined is often used in the phrase “wined and dined.” It means someone treated someone else to a fancy dinner served with wine.

Whined is to fuss and moan – He whined over the loss of his glove.

38. Stalk, Stock (Pronounced similarly)

Stalk is the main stem of a plant, but can also mean following someone, usually stealthily and with bad intentions. The lion stalked the antelope hoping for dinner.

Stock can mean cows or other domestic animals (as in live stock). It can also mean goods (usually for sale). Used as a verb it means to place good somewhere (She stocked the shelves with toothpaste and other dental products)

39. Feint, Faint (pronounced similarly)

Feint – I saw this misused in a book recently – Feint is to make a misleading (feigned) move usually when boxing. Feint with your left, then lead with your right.

Faint – Is unclear, not distinct or it can be passing out (He fainted from dehydration)

40. Your, You’re, Yore — Probably the most commonly misused words on web sites are your and you’re.

Your is a possessive pronoun. When talking about something that is owned by the other person use your. This is your bat. Your answer is incorrect. Your activities are amazing.

You’re is a contraction meaning you are. You’re acting silly. If you’re going with  me, be ready in ten minutes.

Yore is not used as often as the other two spellings. Yore refers to time gone by, usually far in the past. In times of yore, knights jousted with lances. Though dangerous and often fatal, jousting was a form of entertainment.

Should you use your or you’re in the comment you’re typing? Usually it is  easy to decide. Just read your comment saying you are. If that doesn’t seem correct, you probably want to use your, not you’re..

Magic Spell Jar Post Nine (words to describe words)

Words to describe words

Synonym –(sin-ah-nim) words that mean similar things and can be used in place of one another, depending on the sentence.  Like hot and warm.  They are synonyms and are similar in meaning, but cannot be changed in certain sentences without changing the meaning of the sentence.  You will find synonyms in a thesaurus.  That can be helpful if you just cannot think of the exact word you want but do know a similar word.

Synonym and Cinnamon – Some people have trouble with these – pronouncing them the same and sometimes interchanging the when writing. They are not promounced the same and the meanings are very different – synonyms are words of similar meanings – cinnamon (sin ah mon) is a spice that Norwegians like on their romegrat. A;though it is true that Norwegians like cinnamon on a variety of foods, it is not true they  eat cinnamon on everything!

A common synonym joke is, “What’s another word for Thesaurus?”


Antonym (ann-tah-nim)–Words that are opposites. Like hot and cold. Sometimes when you are writing only the exact opposite word of what is needed will come to mind.  Usually a thesaurus will have a list of antonyms after the listing of synonyms.

Homonym (hah-mah-nim) This one is a little bit sloppy.  A true homonym is a word with a totally different meaning depending on the sentence but it is spelled the same and pronounced the same like this:

(The unadorned cake looks plain.  The buffalo was pictured on the plain.) Or  (The plane flew low over the trees. The carpenter used his plane to smooth the wood.)

Those are two pairs of words spelled alike and pronounced alike and are what I consider true homonyms.  Strictly speaking, that is the true definition of homonyms: spelled alike, pronounced alike with different meanings

But most people would also pair Plane and Plain as homonyms. They are spelled differently but pronounced the same with different meanings.

Also, most people include words spelled the same but pronounced differently depending upon the sentence: Like this: Our neighbor is Polish (poe lish) and he will polish (pah lish) the car.  Or another example in mind is this – The grocer doesn’t produce (pro doos, with the accent on pro) the groceries he sells, but he sells produce (pro doos, with the accent on doos0.  Or here is another – The wind is blowing from mountains in which the dragons lived, but you must wind up your power cord before putting the saw away. Spelled the same, pronounced differently with different meanings.

Homonyms are confusing. But the thing to remember is that for most people words that share the same spelling or share the same pronunciation are homonyms.

Palindrome  A palindrome is easy to recognize and the mosr fun.  It is a word or phrase spelled the same forward and backward.  The thing is the poor word cannot know if it is coming or going!  The whole family has palindromic names – Dad, Mom, Sis, Bub, Tot.  Palindromes can be phrase or a sentence or even a whole verse.  Probably the most well known palindromic of more that one word is, “Madam, I’m Adam.” Of course you have to omit the comma and apostrophe as they do not come out in the proper place on the back read.

Madam is a palindromic word. Madam, I’m Adam. is a palindromic phrase.

Knowing what a palindrome is can come in hand y.  Crosswords sometimes have a clue like “an actress with a palindromic name.  Say you’ve filled in an E as the last letter from another clue.  Well, guess what? It is a palindrome, therefore the first letter must also be an E.  This actually was in a recent Sunday crossword.  Turned out the name was Eve.

How many palindromes can you list?

Oxymoron – Yes, this is a description of a word (or phrase) even though it sounds like a made-up word, and a goofy one at that.  An oxymoron is a contradiction of terms.  Some are in common use and no one really notices the contradiction – like bad luck, big baby, alone together, awfully nice, pretty toad, and my favorite – honest politician.  As you can see by my favorite, sometimes the contradiction is a matter of personal belief.  For instance if you hate dogs and think they never behave, good dog would be an oxymoron, although I don’t see it as one.   Can you think of an oxymoron?

Spell Jar Post Eight – I/E Mnemonic Aid

 A common mnemonic (memory aid) goes:

I before e, except after c, or when sounding like A, as in neighbor or weigh

Well, here’s an eye opener.  Although this mnemonic may be helpful for some words, it really isn’t very reliable as there are more exceptions than words follow the rule. 

Here’s another one about the I before E rule.

I before E except when you run a feisty heist  on a weird beige foreign neighbor.

I read that 923 words do not follow this rule while only 44 actually do!   I haven’t actually made the count myself.  

Don’t understand that goofy sentence feisty means something like frisky; heist is a robbery, generally something of great value.


Spell Jar Post Seven (31 to 36)

31. That, Who – These are what I call “refer back” pronouns

Who refers back to a person.  The man who flew into space came back a week later.

That refers back to a place or an animal.  The red spotted dog is the one that bit me.

If you use either in the other way (like the man that or the dog who), you are conferring properties upon the noun – making the man a thing and the dog a person.

32. Threw, Through – These words sound alike but their meanings are not alike.

Threw means tossed, like she threw the ball to first base.  He threw the ball and broke a window. This is also the word you would use in ‘he threw the game’ meaning he deliberately let the other team win.

Through means went into and came out a different side, as in the ball didn’t go to the first baseman, but instead went through the rose bushes. She walked through the door.

33. Way, Weigh, Whey – I recently saw one of these words used incorrectly – you do not way in when offering your opinion, you weigh in. If you are measuring your weight before a wrestling match, you also weigh in.

Way has a multitude of meanings. It can be a path (on the way, by the wayside), it can mean extensive (that’s way to much), or direction (which way to Grandma’s House) and more

Weigh is a measurement of mass versus gravity. How much do you weigh?  Or as mentioned above it can mean offering an opinion. He weighed in on the discussion.

Whey is a dairy by-product.  You may be familiar with this line from a poem: “Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey.”  A lot of weird words show up in that line –  a tuffet is a stool, curds are like cottage cheese, and the whey can be either the liquidy runny part of cottage cheese or the thinner excess of that liquid which can be a drink.  But these days whey is generally used in processed foods.

34. Wear, Ware, Where – These words should have a subtle difference in pronunciation, but usually do not.

Wear is to use clothing or other adornments.  Another meaning is to show use as in there is a lot of wear on that tire.

Ware is sometimes used in place of beware, but that is colloquial (old) usage.  It is also a type of goods, like housewares – usables in the kitchen usually.  Turn it around and you have warehouse which is a place to store items (wares).

Where is actually a pronoun refering to a place. Where did you put my socks? Here’s another use: wherewithall . It means sort of like sense or awareness. I wonder if she has the wherewithall to survive those conditions.

Look them up to find other meanings.

35. Wonder, Wander –

Wonder is to contemplate, think about, or mentally be in awe. I wonder if I’ll this is a good thing.(contemplate) And here’s a usage most will find familiar: and what to my wondering (awe stricken) eyes should appear . . .

Wander is to travel in an unplanned manner or just to travel. She wandered off alone. She spent her life wandering the world. The child wandered off and became lost. In class, her mind wandered off the subject.

Magic Spell Jar – Post Five (21-25)

21. Rack, Wrack –

Rack – is a place to keep or put things, like a clothes rack or a cue rack. But also in medieval torture chambers they often had a rack.  They attached people to it and stretched them as a means of torture.  None of us want any personal experience with a torture rack.

Wrack – is most often used in “wrack your brain” – to attempt to wring out particular memories.  Another fairly common phrase is “wrack and ruin,” usually referring to the wreckage of  one’s life or emotional state.

22. Regimen, Regiment – This is included because the nurses at the nursing home never did get it right.

Regimen – is a schedule or plan for administering drugs – or a plan that you adhere to for other things, like exercise.

Regiment – is a military grouping or division.  The nurses insisted the drugs were administered according to regiment. I always pictured this whole mess of soldiers forcing the pills down the poor old people’s throats.

23. Ring, Wring

Ring – Ah, ring has so many meanings: a precious piece of jewelry for your finger, a sound a bell makes, a mark around a collar or bathtub, and age indicator within a tree, and more.

Wring –  Wring basically is to twist something with the intent of extracting, like to wring out your laundry to extract the excess water before hanging it to dry.  You may have heard the expression “wring your neck.”  When you wring something’s neck you are still extracting something – in this case the life of the victim.  But when someone says, “I’ll wring your neck for saying that,” in this country it is an idle threat, meaning they won’t really follow through on it.  In some countries I suspect you should take a comment like that seriously


.24. Separate – means set apart – this word gives some people trouble. Just remember there is a rat in separate.


25. Shudders, Shutters –

I include this because an English teacher whose blog I follow interchanged them and just this evening I saw the same mistake on another blog.

Shudder is something you do – a tremor usually associated with being cold, frightened, or disgusted.  You might say, “He shuddered when the dragon roared.”  Or the congealed food on the plate made me shudder .

Shutter is a usually something you shut.  You have shutters over your windows or you can shutter your eyes which does not mean close them but to close off any expression in them.  I don’t know how to do that, but I’ve read about it.  Shutter can also be the person or mechanism that shuts something.

Magic Spell Jar Post Four (16-20)

Look for the Spell jar instructions under Craft

16. Its and It’s

This is very confusing.

It’s (with an apostrophe) is a contraction for it is. 

Its (without an apostrophe) shows possession like the color of something,  such as     its eyes were blue.

The reason this is so confusing to me is that to show possession you usually use an       apostrophe, like the murderer’s  weapon was discarded.  As far as I know, its is the         only possessive that does NOT use an apostrophe. It’s very confusing, and I have to     stop and consider whenever I use this goofy little three-letter word.

17. Knit, nitpronounced alike but mean refer to different things

Nit is a little tiny word for a little tiny bug, also used in the expression nitwit.  That           means the brains of a bug or a tiny brain.  This is generally considered an insult.             Unless you are an entomologist who admires bugs.

Knit with a “K” is a type of sewing.  Actually it is more like specialized knot tying than     sewing. Easy spelling hint: Knit and Knot both begin with a “K.”

Here’s a little poem about the silent K:

Use a K with knit and knot, But for the bug do not

18. Knotted, nodded – knot, not, naught –

Knotted means tied, like a knot in a string 

Nodded means bobbed your head, but if you bobbed your hair, you cut and styled it     in a certain way. 

Knot is a tie in a string,

Not is no way. It is not the same as naught which means nothing.

Naught is a more old fashioned word and means nothing.  A fairly common phrase         is “All for naught,”  which means it was all for nothing, nothing came of it.

When speaking about language, not and naught are called negative words.

19. Metal, Medal, Mettle 

Metal is a type of matter, it is not plastic, nor glass, nor earthen. It is metal, like gold,     silver, tin, iron — 

A medal can be made from metal and often is, but not always.  You are awarded a       medal for something outstanding that you have done or accomplished – sometimes a huge medallion disk (like for the Olympic games) usually a  badge suitable for pinning to clothing, but not the same as a law enforcement badge

Mettle is an inherent strength of spirit or character.  If you are given a task that will         take ages to get through, your mettle will be tested.  Or it takes a lot of mettle to practice until you win a gold medal.

20. Phase, Faze, Face

Face and phase sound alike but faze has a buzzy sound at the end,

Phase is a period of time in development – As he’s just going through a phase.  At         this phase the chemistry experiment should sizzle but not explode.

Faze is an effect or having an effect emotionally, like meeting the dragon did not             seem to faze  him.

Face, of course, is what you see in the mirror every morning. It should not be used in     place of faze, but face can be a verb, too, as in – I can’t face another day without             dragons – or – to begin the hockey game, the centers will face off.

Halloween Project – Magic Spell Jar Directions

I’m thinking of making a “magic spell” jar for the grandkids for Halloween. 

Would be fairly simple:

  • Decorate a jar with Halloween colors and images – Use one with a mouth wide enough to dip into with hands
  • Label it magic spell jar
  • Drop in slips of “spells” – Just print the spells found under  “pages” to the right then click “Magic Spell Jar” and clip apart (one number per slip), which usually have two or three words bold words and a discussion of the words
  • Include instructions for removing one spell per day.

It is important to do one spell per day so the kids do not become overwhelmed or bored. Like magic most of the hints will stay with you, if you make a point of using the words two or three times on the day pulled.

Magic Spell Jar Post Two (6-10)

Look for the Spell jar instructions under Craft

6. Do, Due, Dew

Do means to accomplish something.  As did you do your homework?

Due means it is time for, as in your homework is due on Friday. It can also mean “because of”: the grade you got on the homework was due to sloppy handwriting.

Dew is the moisture (but not rain) that forms on the grass overnight. Dew drops sometimes glisten like diamonds.

Sometimes people try to be clever.  People often say. “Do drop in to see me when you are in town.”  Café owners sometime make a “play on words” and name their business Dew Drop Inn.  When I was a kid a café in Badger went by that name.  All these years later I still see it used but mostly in novels.

7. Elegant and eloquent.

I recently read an article in which the author referred to an eloquent gown.  Unless that dress could talk, it should be an elegant gown.

Elegant means lovely but more, kind of like a royal lovely.

Eloquent means well worded, like an eloquent speaker or an eloquently written piece.  Poetically, the beauty of nature can be eloquent since that beauty “speaks” to poets.

8. Fair, Fare

These words sound alike but do not have similar meanings.

Fair is a festival but also means pleasing to the eye or nice, as in fair of face, and fair weather

Fare is an amount you pay for a ride in a taxi, bus, or ferry

Look them up for other meanings; there are many.

9. Heart, Hearth

These words sound similar.

Arguably, your heart is the most vital organ in your body, which may be why people use the phrase “the heart of the matter” when referring to the core idea.

Hearth is pronounced similarly but with a “th” sound at the end.  It is part of a working fireplace, the apron in front.  This is not used much these days but you may see it in historical novels, such as hearth and hob. The hearth is a place to warm people, while the hob is a place to keep pots and pans warm.

A bread company used to make a type of bread with hearth in its name.  Nearly everyone called it hurth bread.

You may have heard the adage, “Home is where the heart is.”  Do you think it began as “Home is where the hearth is?”  Either would seem appropriate.

 10. Heard, Herd

These words sound alike, but have entirely different meanings.

Heard is when you hear something and is spelled with an ear in it.

Herd is a group of animals, but not all animals run in herds.  Wolves, for instance, run in packs. And unicorns run in blessings.

You should look up a list of animal gatherings.  Some are really interesting – like gaggle of geese or a murder of crows.  A really funny tee shirt shows two crows on a line and reads “attempted murder.”   I love it.

What is a group of dragons called?  Apparently dragons be a can be a rage, a clan, or a weyr (pronounced weer). If they are winged dragons you can also call them a flight. Pick the one you like. The Pern books (my all-time favorite fantasy series by Ann McCaffery) uses weyr.

Editor at Heart

scrapbook (1961-62) scans 11-2010 016

Being an editor at heart, poor usage decreases the enjoyment I derive from certain books.

I heartily approve of self-publishing as it brings us many wonderful books that would otherwise never be offered to the public. Publishing companies no longer determine what we will or will not read.

In this age of self-publishing, however, too many people publish poorly edited books. Please, please, do yourself and your readers a favor and get someone who knows the language to read and edit. An author is usually too close to the work to see obvious mistakes, as they see what is intended rather than what is actually there. Even “just a friend” can help you find usage mistakes, but one of your former teachers or other knowledgeable person would be better. I’m sure almost anyone can find a beta reader or two to make suggestions and corrections.

Lacking those resources, set your work aside for a couple of weeks and then read it, not with love in your eyes, but critically. This is difficult. After all the effort and time spent in creating it, you won’t want to be critical of your baby. But a couple of re-reads and the resulting corrections will end in a project you can be proud to publish.

Edit, revise, rewrite, repeat before publishing.