As we have discussed before, the vagaries of English pronunciation mean that a large number of English words sound the same but look complete different. There are many famous culprits – the “there” (with their and they’re) at the beginning of this sentence is just one example – but few words have as many homophones as weigh and its related parts of speech. With luck, though, this quick explanation should help take the weight of worry off your mind:
Way vs Weigh
Despite the fact that one has three letters and the other five, both of these words rhyme with “pay” – although apart from this common ground they have little else in common. Way, for example, is a noun which is similar in meaning to “manner or style” and can also be used to indicated direction (“one way”). Weigh, by contrast, is a verb – weight, below, is the noun – that is used to measure the total amount of pounds or kilograms something has. Thus we could say that “one way to weigh fruit is to use a scale.”
Wade vs Weighed
Again, although these two verbs both sound the same – both rhyme with shade– they are otherwise quite distinct. Wade, for example, is the action of moving slowly, as if through water, while weighed is simply the past tense of the verb weigh we discussed above. To keep things straight, just consider the context: while water can be weighed, only people wade through water!
Wait vs Weight
Having discussed the first two soundalikes already, the second member of this set should look pretty familiar. While weight, as noted above, is a noun used to refer to the amount that results from weighing, wait can be both a noun and a verb. As a verb it means to “delay or stall” while as a noun it refers to the period of time of that delay. Thus we might say “I need to wait before I check my weight” or “Because the line was so long, the wait to check my weight took a while.”
Don’t forget to check our main page for more examples of commonly confused words!