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Checking Homophones in Read & Write 7

Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings and different spellings. Common examples are: ‘hair’ & ‘hare’, ‘are’ & ‘our’ and ‘their’ & ‘there’. Because the phonetics are the same, or similar, these words can be a common problem area for people with dyslexia. The difficulty is made worse by the fact that a spellchecker won’t pick up on homophone errors (as no spelling mistake has been made) and using the text-to-speech to hear your document aloud won’t help either (as the words sound the same as each other).

Read & Write Homophone toolbar buttons

Read & Write contains a homophone checker that highlights all the potential homophone errors in your document. I say potential errors as, unlike the spellchecker, the software is unable to differentiate between a correct and an incorrect homophone. All it can do is highlight all the homophones in your document so that you can go through them one at a time and check you have used the correct word.

Unlike most of the other features in Read & Write, the homophone checker only works in Microsoft Word.

Screenshot of text where homophones are highlighted blue

Open a document in Word and click on the Show Homophones icon. After a few seconds you should see that all the homophones in your document have been highlighted with blue text. If you view your documents using blue text normally then you might not be able to see the homophones and consequently you will not be able to easily use this feature (Read & Write version 8 allows you to change the highlighting colour).

If you right-click on a word (it is not possible to accomplish this using the keyboard unless you use MouseKeys) Read & Write should display the ‘Same Sounding Words’ dialog. This does not always work first time so you may need to try right-clicking again. If you want to check all the homophones in your document it is important to click on the first homophone as the program will step through all the remaining homophones until it reaches the end of your document or you click the close button.

Read & Write Homophone Checker dialog

The ‘Same Sounding Words’ dialog lists the words the sound the same as the word you’ve used, in this case Right, Rite, and Write. To check that you have used the correct word Read & Write provides a definition (but unfortunately not sample sentence) for each one. You now have three options:

  1. If you recognise that you have made a mistake you can select the correct word from the list and press Replace.
  2. If instead you are happy with the word you used then you can click Ignore.
  3. If the homophone that has popped up is a mistake that you know you will never make then you can click ‘Always ignore this word in future’. This is really important as the program tends to list and incredible number of homophones that only a very few people would ever mix up (such as ‘Eye’ and ‘I’). By using the ‘always ignore’ feature you are making things a lot easier for you next time you run a Homophone check.

All three options will immediately take you to the next homophone in the document.

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