Our, hour, and are are not homophones, but they come pretty close. ‘How so?
Depending on your family’s dialects, and where you live (in the US, UK, New Zealand, or Australia) all three words sound the same, or two out of three sound exactly the same. Some pronounce all three “aher” or “arr”, some pronounce hour and our as “oww-er” and the other two “arr”.
Online, I see “our” typed for “are” and vice versa all the time. That’s actually what motivated this post.
Are is a form of the verb “be”, with two key uses. First, it is used as a present indicative plural verb, for example, “Are we going to the movies today?” and next, it is a second person singular verb, for example, “Are you sure you are ready to leave the party?”
It is wrong to say: “are I” “are me” “are us” “are he” “are she” “are them” “I are” “me are” “us are” “he are” “she are” “them are”. If a reader sees this style of usage in literature, it is indicating someone who wasn’t formally educated. Too be fair, these less formally educated characters are full of street smarts and people skills.
When proofreading, it’s worth asking, “I typed ‘are’, but was the verb ‘is’ or another one already present? Did I mean ‘our'”?
Our is a possessive pronoun, indicating group ownership or relationship with the noun being modified, versus the singular ownership “my”.
While proofreading, it’s worth asking, “I typed ‘our’, but is this really an ownership scenario?”
Hour is a noun, meaning a 60 minute period during the day or night. While proofreading, it’s worth asking, “I typed ‘hour’, but did I mean a period of time? did I type a noun when I meant a similar-sounding verb, or a possessive pronoun?”
In closing, here are some example sentences using all three words correctly:
- Are the hours I spent setting up for our party worth it? Will I be getting a thank you?
- The movie “Yours, Mine and Ours” is almost two hours long. Are you ready to watch it now, or should we wait?
- Paid time off (PTO) hours are non-transferable year to year, so we better take our vacation now, or risk losing that time off altogether.