Easily Confused Words: Isle vs. Aisle

Isle and aisle are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Isle (pronounced “eye-uhl”) is a noun. It means an island, a piece of land surrounded by water and not connected to larger masses of land. Isle is typically used to refer to very small islands.

Aisle (pronounced “eye-uhl”) is a noun. It means the walking path between sets of rows of shelving or seating. For example, on commercial aircraft, in churches, and in movie theaters, it is the walkway where staff walk to serve food or escort guests to their seats. In a warehouse store, aisles allow shoppers to walk around, view products, and choose which ones to buy.

In US news, anchors describe occasional politicians as a person who will “reach across the aisle.” This means someone, for example a Republican, who is willing to work and reach a compromise with Democrat representatives, and the reverse also applies: a Democrat willing to work with Republicans.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Iselle was eager to get away from it all. She booked a two week vacation, going camping on a remote tropic isle. Once the helicopter dropped her off, there were no other people in sight. Life was completely unplugged there. 

By week two, she was missing some of the comforts of home. Like walking the aisles of a grocery as opposed to catching fish and picking fruit for every meal. It was great to catch up on journaling and writing, but she also missed talking to people.

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