Oh vs. Owe

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Oh and owe are two commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. We will examine the different meanings of the homophonic words oh and owe, the word origin of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Oh is an interjection used to express a range of emotions including pain, sorrow, hesitation, and recognition. Oh may also be used to acknowledge that one has heard a statement or piece of information. Oh is often used as a filler word in conversation when one addresses someone or begins a thought. The word oh is derived from the Latin interjection, o or oh.

Owe means to be under an obligation to repay something to someone, to be indebted to someone. One may owe many things, such as money, services or allegiance. Related words are owes, owed, owing. The word owe is derived from the Old English word agan, which means to own or to have.


Now sometimes people say, “Oh, you know, next year, sometime or maybe next quarter.” (The Harvard Business Review)

Oh, you know—just his exes, including Beck, whom he murdered last season, and Candace, who showed up at the bookstore to discuss some “unfinished business.” (Vanity Fair)

“If you do not get a tax notice and you’re supposed to, that doesn’t mean you don’t owe taxes. ” (The Daily Leader)

Neither Hong Kong Airlines, which is backed by Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co, nor the Airport Authority elaborated on the missed payments but the South China Morning Post reported earlier that the company could owe between HK$11 million (42.4 million baht) and HK$17.2 million in parking and other fees. (Bangkok Post)