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Air vs. Heir

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Homophones in English are the words that have the same pronunciation but very different meanings and spellings. Air and heir are an example of a pair of homophones and cause a lot of confusion for beginners of English language and also sometimes for native speakers. Consider the sentences below:

The giggles hung in the air like melting clouds that were waiting to rain on me.

According to legend, the true heir to the throne must be a child born holding in his tiny hands the seeds of millet.

Can you guess the meanings of both the homophones by reading theses sentences? If not, then this is just the right article for you.

Origin:

Air originated from Middle English from Old French air, from Latin aer, from Greek aēr, denoting the gas. Heir originated from Middle English: via Old French from Latin heres.

Air as noun:

Air is used as a noun and it means the invisible gaseous substance surrounding the earth, a mixture mainly of oxygen and nitrogen.

Air is also an impression of a quality or manner given by someone or something.

She answered with a faint air of boredom.

Air as verb:

When used as a verb, air mean to express (an opinion or grievance) publicly.

A meeting in which long-standing grievances were aired.

In British, air means to expose (a room) to the open air in order to ventilate it.

The window sashes were lifted regularly to air the room.

Heir as noun:

Heir is only used as a noun in English language where it means a person legally entitled to the property or rank of another on that person's death.

His eldest son and heir was murdered.

A person who inherits and continues the work of a predecessor is also the heir.

They saw themselves as heirs of the Cubists.

Examples:

JetBlue announced today that it will make free high-speed Wi-Fi access available on land as well as in the air as part of a fleet-wide redesign of its Airbus A320 models that make up the majority of the airline’s aircraft. (The New York Times)

Takata Corp. shares on Monday hit their lowest level since 2009 after U.S. regulators said recalls involving Takata-made air bags would expand by about five million vehicles, triggering concern over wider recall costs. (The Wall Street Journal)

Netaji’s grand nephew Swagata Bose, however, believes that Subhas Chandra Bose indeed died in the air crash. (India Today)

When meeting Ferruccio Lamborghini Jr., the heir of the Tonino Lamborghini Group and grandson of supercar maker Ferruccio Lamborghini, it is apparent that he is extremely humble for the heir of a company that juggles $350 million from worldwide sales ― most of which comes from customers who love to flaunt their wealth. (The Korea Times)

Tetra Pak heir Hans Rausing could not be helped out of his drug problem even by addiction experts specialising in rich people, his sister has revealed. (The Belfast Telegraph)

The antitrust charge stems from an investigation into anti-competitive practices among heir location firms, which work to track down heirs who may be owed a portion of an inheritance after a distant relative dies without a will. (The Quad-City Times)

Air or heir:

Air is the invisible substance that surrounds Earth, consisting of oxygen, nitrogen and other invisible gases or the space above Earth, or to give expression to. An heir is someone legally entitled to property or a title upon a certain person’s demise. Heir may also be used figuratively to refer to someone who carries on a tradition or legacy of a predecessor. The h in heir is not pronounced, making air and heir homophones.

 

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"Air vs. Heir." Grammar.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 23 Nov. 2017. <http://www.grammar.com/air_vs._heir>.

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