— 13 August 2005 —

Is There a Grammar Maven in the House?

Two grammar questions.

I know a homonym is a series of words that sound the same, usually spelled the same, but have different meanings…

Question 1: is it really “usually” spelled the same or is there a different term for words that sound the same, are spelled differently, and have different meanings. I think the answer is no, but I’ve seen the modifier “usually” only sometimes in the definition of a homonym.

Which brings us to the next part. There are three words, “to,” “two,” and “too.” Sound the same, different spellings, different meanings.

Question 2: in conversation we’d say, “There are three ‘tos’ in the English language.” But how the hell do you write that? Did I pick the correct to|two|to in that sentence?

Someone at dayjob asked me that question and I realized I couldn’t answer it. Often I am asked questions like this at dayjob because of my large capacity for gray cell manipulation (translation: me smarty). But this one has me stumped.

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