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Hymn vs him

  • Hymn and him are two commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way when spoken aloud but are spelled differently and mean different things, which makes them homophones. Homophones exist because of our ever-changing English language, and are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. The way the spelling and definitions differ can be confusing when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Proper pronunciation of spoken English may help the listener distinguish between homophones; the words affect-effect are a good example, but the words to, too and two, or horse and hoarse, are indistinguishable from each other. Pronunciation is usually more ambiguous, as English pronunciation may vary according to dialect, and English spelling is constantly evolving. Pronunciation may change even though the spelling doesn’t, producing two words that are pronounced in the same manner but have different meanings such as night and knight. Phonological spelling and spelling rules do not always work, and most people avoid misspelling by studying vocabulary words from spelling lists, enhancing their literacy skills through spelling practice. English words are also spelled according to their etymologies rather than their sound. For instance, the word threw is derived from the Old English word thrawan, and the word through came from the Old English word thurh. Homophones are confusing words and are commonly misspelled words because of the confusion that arises from words that are pronounced alike but have very different usage and etymology. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake, so do not relay on spell check but instead, learn to spell. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a homophone in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. We will examine the definitions of the two homophonic words hymn and him, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.


     

    A hymn is a song or poem of praise or supplication to God. Christian hymns are formal songs sung in church. The word hymn is also used idiomatically to mean a song, poem, prose, play or film that celebrates or praises someone or something. The word hymn is derived from the Greek word hymnos, which a song or poem that praises gods or heroes.

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    Him is a pronoun, which is a noun that stands in for a personal pronoun. Him is a third person singular pronoun, used as the object in a sentence. The object is the noun that appears after the predicate, and is not the subject of the sentence. The word him is an Old English word, in use at least since the year 1000.

    Examples

    Whether they are in church hymns, songs we sang back in school or other times when I have been singing somewhat on key, I have always been a little confused about them. (The Athens News)

    In 2012, a group of five recently elected Tory MPs published Britannia Unchained, a hymn to deregulation, tax cuts and privatisation. (The New Statesman)

    Daniel Heo of Plano, Texas, told The Times that he attended elementary school with Crusius and remembered playing basketball and soccer with him during recess. (The Los Angeles Times)

    According to eye-witnesses, the attackers were trailing his car and drove beside him when he stopped, shooting him multiple times. (Sahara Reporters)


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