Is it “Bear with me” or “Bare with me”? These homophones are always difficult for me to parse. They sound the same, but mean different things and are spelled differently too. I’ve always had to be careful when using there, their or they’re. One of Anne’s favorite games is to point out to me select lawn art, as in “Look [dear | deer].” Anne pointed out that the bare phase means to get naked with me, which only raises more questions for me. 😉
Another example of ambiguity in English is the following sentence:
Tom while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher.
Without punctuation this so-called sentence is both lexically incorrect and frankly unintelligible. The example refers to two students, Tom and John, who are required by an English test to describe a man who, in the past, had suffered from a cold. John writes “The man had a cold” which the teacher marks as being incorrect; while Tom writes the correct “The man had had a cold.” Since Tom’s answer was right, it had had a better effect on the teacher. The sentence can be understood more clearly by adding punctuation and emphasis:
Tom, while John had had “had“, had had “had had”; “had had” had had a better effect on the teacher.
I would hate to have to diagram this sentence. There is a simple sentence that is easy to say, but hard to write. It is, “There are three ____ in English”, where the blank symbolizes the homophone [to | too | two], which phonetically is easily said, but it is much harder to write out.