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HomophonesAs promised last week, I’m posting the first of several proofreading exercises to give you practice in finding your own errors. We’ll start off with one that focuses on only one kind of error: words that are pronounced the same (or nearly the same) but are spelled differently and have different uses. Our English spelling system contains a number of these word pairs (or triplets). They are often a stumbling block for writers and are hard to pick out when proofreading because Spell Check doesn’t flag them. Examples include your/you’re, whose/who’s, though/through, to/too/two, and than/then.

So here’s a short essay for you to proofread for only that kind of error. The challenge is to find the 15 words that are used incorrectly and replace them with the correct words. Take as much time as you want. Accuracy is more important than speed! I’ll be posting the answers next week so you can see how well you did. Now put on those reading glasses or grab that magnifying glass and begin your search!

The Cemetery

Your not going to believe this, but I was once offered the position of manager of a cemetery. The Charles Baber Cemetery in Pottsville, PA was willed to Trinity Episcopal church by Charles  Baber, a member who had established the cemetery many years before. I didn’t no weather to accept the job or not. It was not quite what I was used to, but then it was the only offer I had, so I took it.

The first week on the job I took a tour though the cemetery and the beautiful chapel that had been built opposite the entrance. The cemetery was located on rolling hills just off the center of town and reminded me of  a quite park. There were many different varieties of trees and the remains of a pond were children used to ice skate in the winter. An old barn originally housed the funeral carriage and it’s team of white horses that pulled it in funeral processions passed rows of silent spectators.

In the office of the church, I found several very large books that contained the burial records for the cemetery. The entries dated back to the 1800s and every entry was handwritten. I had too handle the books with great care because some of there bindings were lose. It was also hard to tell sometimes who’s body was in which plot because the plot numbers in the book didn’t always correspond to the map of the cemetery.

Even through the job lasted only a year, I was more then satisfied with what I learned about the history of the cemetery and the people buried there. Its not every day that a job opens up to manage a place that people are dying to get into!


Feel free to share this exercise with friends or use it in your classroom. It’s an original essay I wrote a number of years ago and describes a real job I had. Students in my developmental writing classes struggled with it, but those who spent the most time found the most errors. Persistence pays off!