English can be confusing even at the best of times. Not that homonyms (which are words that are spelled the same but mean different things) such as read [which occurs today] and read [which happened yesterday] or homophones (which are words that are spelled differently but pronounced the same way ) like read and red make things any easier! For today’s English tips entry, though, we will concentrate on homophones that begin with f and g. Here are a few of the most common:
Fair / Fare
With fair and fare we have a great example of two common words that sound exactly the same but actually mean not two or three but four different things. Both rhyme with “air” and “care” but fair can be both a adjective and a noun. As an adjective it means either pale or honest and as a noun it is another name for a festival or carnival. It might sound confusing but context certainly helps! Meanwhile, fare is always a noun meaning money for transportation (as in bus fare). To help keep things straight try this example sentence on for size: “Fair Claire thought the bus fare to the fair was fair.”
Forth / Fourth
While fair and fare might be a bit complicated, this next set is not. Though both sound exactly the same – and rhyme with “north” – forth is synonymous with forward while fourth is used when describing number four in a group or list. Thus we could say “James put forth his fourth idea when he presented another good suggestion at the meeting.”
Gorilla / Guerilla
It might seem easy to confuse these two but we can assure you that they are quite different. Indeed, gorilla (with an o) is the name of the large animal you can visit at the zoo while a guerrilla (with a u) is a soldier that specializes in surprise attacks. Though technically pronounced differently they sound similar enough to confuse even native English speakers. To keep things straight just remember that only “u” can be a guerilla – no matter how much you like bananas!