Tricks to Remember Sound-Alike Words

Updated on May 15, 2018
Virginia Allain profile image

A librarian through and through, Virginia Allain writes about book topics, researching, and information for library users and librarians.

Oh Oh, Which Word Is The Right One?

You don't want to carry a dictionary around with you everywhere, so use some easy memory joggers to keep sound-alike words straight.
You don't want to carry a dictionary around with you everywhere, so use some easy memory joggers to keep sound-alike words straight. | Source

Sound-Alike Words That Aren't Spelled the Same Are Homophones

Words that sound alike but are spelled differently often trip people up when they are writing. No one wants to look ignorant by putting the wrong word, but who has time to look it up over and over?

I'm pretty much a visual learner, so using visual clues helps me differentiate in these situations. It's likely that they will prove useful for you as well.

Some sound-alike words that cause problems are wet/whet and peak/pique/peek.

Here are some tricks to remember which word to use when.

Which Is Right? Wet or Whet Your Appetite?


Wet or Whet Your Appetite?

There's a phrase that's commonly used but often misspelled. It's "whet your appetite." People mistakenly use "wet."

I think the confusion comes because people aren't familiar with the word "whet." Let's clarify this.

See the photo below of the vintage tool? That's a sharpening stone, a whetstone. You have a small version in your kitchen to sharpen your carving knives.

When you whet something, you are sharpening or honing it. That's what happens to your appetite when it is whetted. Something has sharpened your appetite. Maybe it was the smell or the sight of some tasty food.

If you use the wrong word, "wet," then you are saying just the opposite. To wet something might mean to dampen it down. You put water on or dampen a fire to stop it. If you wet or dampen your appetite, then you would be suppressing it.

Let's practice it in a sentence. Leticia hoped her flavorful soup would whet the appetite of her husband as he recovered from the flu.

Got it? May the grammar gods look favorably on your writing.

Here's What a Whetstone Looks Like

When you use the word "whet" think of a grindstone or whetstone that hones a sharp edge on a knife or tool.
When you use the word "whet" think of a grindstone or whetstone that hones a sharp edge on a knife or tool. | Source

Did That Help?

Vote in the Poll

See results

A homophone is a word that has the same sound as another word but is spelled differently and has a different meaning


Peek, Peak, or Pique - Which to Use?

People often get this one mixed up. Here are your clues for remembering the right spelling for the right situation.

  1. If a peeping Tom PEEKED in a window, you would say "EEK."
  2. The PEAK of the roof or the PEAK of a mountain form an A shape, so remember you need an A for this situation.
  3. If something PIQUES your interest, it is probably unique or antique. Remember to use "ique" when you use this pique.

Below are 3 picture to help lock these words into your memory.

EEK! Someone Is Peeking in the Window!


Remember the A in PEAK

Remember that the peak (meaning point) should have an A in it.
Remember that the peak (meaning point) should have an A in it. | Source

Unique or Antique Things Will Pique Your Interest

Anything unusual can pique your interest. Unusual or unique foods can pique your appetite.
Anything unusual can pique your interest. Unusual or unique foods can pique your appetite. | Source

Does It Make Sense? I Hope So.

Vote in the Poll

See results

There Are Many More Sound-Alike Words

I'll add more over time. Let me know in the comments if there are any particular ones that you'd like visual hints to help you remember them.




Questions & Answers

  • Do you have any tips for remembering the difference between "bare" and "bear"?

    Let's see, to differentiate between bare and bear, try this. The Brits use a phrase "bare arse naked" so keep that in mind when thinking something is unclothed or bare and spell it with an "ar." Other things can be bare (or naked) like your arms if you roll up your sleeves.

    A bear, the animal, has ears, so remember to spell it "bear." All other uses like to bear arms (carry a weapon) is also spelled bear. Picture in your mind a furry black bear carrying a rifle (a bear bearing arms).

    Now, if you have a naked baby on a furry rug, it is a "bare baby on a bearskin rug."

© 2018 Virginia Allain


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      24 months ago from Central Oklahoma

      Thanks for clarifying peek, peak and pique! So simple when explained the way you did! There, their and they're are words I often see used incorrectly in Facebook comments. One describes a place or destination, the second is possessive, and the third is a contraction of two words. It's not rocket science!

      Off-topic, however, one word I never forget now to spell correctly is necessary because "cess is necessary"!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Your visual examples are good ones as to how to use certain words properly.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      2 years ago from England

      Love this! it reminds me of my psychology courses back 20 years ago, on how to remember this sort of thing. I will definitely remember the A in peak now!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I loved your get pictures and examples. I hate when I see the wrong used. It "grates" on my eyes.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I like your idea of having visual hints to make one remember the distinction.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)