Homophones. Who needs them? The English language, it seems. Today we’re discussing three identical-sounding words which shouldn’t be confused, but sometimes are: sight, site and cite.
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Sight is the ability to see; a sight is therefore worth seeing. A site is a location (including a virtual one, such as a web site). A particular site might be a sight to see. To cite is to refer to something; hence citation.
Cite is the least-used of the three, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that it’s the most often confused. You don’t have to look too far online to find examples of the phrase “site your references”. That said, you don’t have to look much further to see the phrase “check the web sight”.
Providing evidence for your claims is always a good idea, but if you “site references”, you still won’t appear credible. Accuracy matters.
Lifehacker’s Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.