Words, Words, Words – Part 2


I have more words to discuss with you.

Rain, Rein, Reign

Rain is that wet stuff that comes down from the sky. In Seattle, where I grew up, we called it liquid sunshine. Here on the east coast, it’s not so gentle. And it’s no longer so gentle in Seattle either. Climate change, but that’s another essay for another time. Clouds “rain” on us, not over us, usually. And they don’t “rein” on us or “reign” over us.

Rein is that piece of leather (usually) attached to the bit in a horse’s mouth that the rider hangs onto on the other end. To “rein in” means to slow down or stop whatever it is you’re reining in. You can’t “rain in” someone, unless you make them cry perhaps. And if you write that and I read it, I will cry. Please don’t. And, by the way, you can’t “reign” a horse, either. They won’t put up with it very well.

Reign is connected to kings and queens, regent, regal or regnant. Do you see the “g” in there? Connect it with those other words and you’ll know how to use it. The king reigns over us. The king “rains” over us? What, he’s all wet and he’s dripping? Or the king “reins” over us? Straps of leather over our heads? Does not compute.

Hour, our, are

The “hour”, or time, is upon us. “Hour” refers to time. Maybe once upon a time, the “h” was pronounced, now it’s not.

“Our” is the possessive for “we”. “We live there so that’s our house.” It’s not “hour” house, unless it’s got something to do with clocks and time… And it’s definitely not “are” house.

“Are” is a verb in the “to be” family. “We are going to the movies.” Not, “we our going to the movies.”  Connect the “e” in “are” with the “e” in “to be” and you should be okay.

Alter and altar

“Alter” is a verb that means to change. “She had to alter the dress to make it fit.” Not “She altared the dress to make it fit.” Or is she worshiping that dress?

“Altar” is a noun meaning the table or surface used for worshiping. “We knelt at the altar to pray.” Not “We knelt at the alter to pray.” The what?  “We knelt at the change to pray”?  We’re worshiping money, perhaps?

Affect and effect

I admit, this one’s a little hard. At one time, “effect” was strictly a noun, the result of change. Now it is also a verb creating the change. One can “effect a change” or “effect change”.

However, “affect” is the verb that does the changing. As in, “His attitude affects his work.” But “He worked to effect change.” I like to think of “affect” as kind of “coloring” or influencing in a subtle way something. So you could say, “His attitude ‘colors’ or ‘influences’ his work.”

“She affects an accent for great effect.” In other words, “She pretends an accent for a great result.” The word “effect” is a noun here.

Is this all clear as mud? I thought so.

Aisle and isle

An “aisle” is that lane or alley way between rows of seats or between shelves in the grocery store or library. “The groom walked down the aisle to the bride standing at the altar.”

An “isle” is a small island. There is also islet. See how they all start is “isl”? An “isle” is in the middle of water. An “aisle” is between rows. Your can row to an “isle” but you have to go between rows to get to an “aisle”.

Pray and prey

“Pray” is a verb meaning to ask for something, usually of a higher power.  “We prayed for rain.”  (Isn’t interesting how my other word examples show up like cameo appearances?)

“Prey” can be either a noun, an adjective, or a verb.  As a noun, it means something to hunt.  As a noun:  “Rabbit is prey to the lion.”  As an adjective:  “Rabbit is a prey animal.”  Or as a verb:  “The lion preys upon rabbits.”

I pray that you can keep these two straight.

Too, to, and two

“Too” means also.  “I like that book, too.”  You can easily replace “too” with “also” and have the same meaning.  Otherwise, you get:  “I like that book, to.”  To what?  Disappear?  But then we’d have to talk about verb usage here.

“To” is a preposition.  “She went to the store.”  Not “She went too the store.”  She went to the store, also?  Or is that just a typo or a hiccup on the “o”?  “To” is also part of the infinitive of a verb, “to be”, “to jump”, etc.  “She likes to jump.”  Not “She likes too jump.”

“Two” is the number two, two of something, a couple, a brace.  You can’t go “two the store”.  And you can’t “like two jump”.  Maybe you can like “two jumps”, rather than, say, one jump or three jumps.

“Two can go to the store, too.”

Isn’t this fun? Do you have words you like to play with?


About Laurie Higgins

I play with clicker training - with my horses, dogs, and cats. I also attempt to grow vegetables with the hope of one day being able to feed my family from my garden. My daughter and I are learning ballroom dancing. Well, we were. But she left me for a paying horse job, so now my husband and I are learning ballroom dancing. I'm also now helping Peggy Hogan, of Clicker Training Horses (and The Best Whisper is a Click) to teach people how to train their own horses using "clicker training".
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2 Responses to Words, Words, Words – Part 2

  1. Remote Coach says:

    Aren’t words fabulous?! Great post. My grade three teacher absolutely drilled us on to, too and two, along with there, they’re and their, the list goes on. I’m so grateful to her! I’m also still unable to use the word ‘got’ in a sentence without hearing her say ‘Oh I think you can find a better word than that dear’. Mrs Dilger was fantastic!

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