24 January 2011

The Contraction Homonyms

At work, not so long ago, I came across a fairly scandalous typo of the damn you spell check homonym variety. I mean, the manager of a theater ought to know that the passageway between the seats is spelled AISLE, not ISLE.

And trust me, he was talking about the aisle, not some strange island in the middle of the theater.

Being that my clever book-making sister-in-law is a fan of words and word games and homonyms, I promptly sent her a pdf of the offending letter. This sparked quite a back and forth with her and others, bandying about yet more homonyms, and flinging contractions into the mix. Because, think about about it: a third homonym in the AISLE - ISLE family is I'LL.

As George said, "why WOULDN'T contractions be allowed? They're perfectly good English words. Nothing "tricksy" about ’em. Yule never know. Heel like it. In days of you're. Aisle stop now."

I've been scratching my head ever since, and although I rejected KNEE'D as too twee, I've come up with the following list of contraction homonyms.

can’t – cant
e’er – air – ere – err – heir
he’d – heed
he’ll – heel – heal
I’d – eyed
I’ll – aisle – isle
it’s – its
let’s – lets
she’ll – shill
there’s – theirs
they’re – their – there
we’d – weed
we’ll – weal – wheal – wheel
we’ll – will
we’re – weir
we’ve – weave
where’s – wears
who’s – whose
y’all – yawl
you’ll – Yule
you’re – your – yore

Anything to add?


Antropologa said...

This game is way too hard. I keep coming up with words that are in other languages than English!

the queen said...

If she'll can be shill (to you Easterners, I suppose) why can't "Where's" be whirrs?

alejna said...

It's a lovely list, and I can't think of any items to add. But your "I'd - eyed" item reminds me of the Mondegreen, "Gladly, the cross-eyed bear."

(Also, my "word verification" is "squic." That made me laugh.)

MARY G said...

Pronunciation is as much fun as the contractions. Where I live you can hear 'hoos' in 'who's' and 'shiel' in she'll.
Where am I? The Ottawa Valley, settled by Scots circa 1810 and later. Scots so stubborn that you can hear the Scottish accent and word choices quite clearly in 2010.

Just a wee while.

Bibliomama said...

Yeah -- she'll/shill?

I've spent an annoying long time trying to come up with a new one and now I feel inadequate. Thanks SO much.

Ha ha. w.v. -- apely.

leanne said...

Only that this list is awesome. I do love words.

Rima said...

Eye don't think sew.

Heide Estes said...

We's -- wheeze
You's -- use
I'se -- eyes

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Clever you and Heidi.

I would never pronounce yore anything like you're and your though--the regional pronunciations are fascinating as well.

Cathy said...


melinda said...


Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I don't have anything to add -- but thought you'd like two spelling anecdotes.

Son's spelling word: wreath. I asked if he knew what that was. Daughter interrupts, "You know, wreath? Like in the ocean, where fish live?"

Daughter wrote a note to her brother about a "sele." It took me forever to figure that one out. (She's learning about 'silent e'.)

[word verification: pingency.]

abby said...

o'er - oar - or

This game is fun. You should make a board game out of it.

YourFireAnt said...

we'll.....will....?? Where do YOU come from?


YourFireAnt said...

rattle ... rat'll

Angela said...

If yore gonna add contractions, why not proper nouns like Immanuel Kant?

nonlineargirl said...

This adds a new wrinkle to the game that Ada and I have been playing for a couple of months (identifying homonymns).

I can't look at its-it's without thinking of all the people who don't know the difference. Grrr.

mayberry said...

I like this George.

Patois42 said...

I have to admit to having a list of about 75 that my youngest and I started doing when he was about 5 or 6.

And just yesterday at the grocery store, we realized we needed to start a list of heteronyms. "Polish" (for sausages) was on the list, but my kid said we needed "polish" (as in furniture polish). Considering I close to never dust, it's amazing he said it that way.