If two or more words sound the same when spoken out loud, but have different meanings, they are called homophones. Be careful not to confuse homophones with homographs, which also have different meanings but, instead, share a common spelling. Knew and new are two homophones that give many writers trouble. They are pronounced the same, since the K in knew is silent. Nonetheless, they mean different things, and are actually completely different parts of speech. If you have ever been confused about whether you really mean knew or new, you aren’t alone. This article will serve as a helpful guide for the appropriate situations in which to choose each of these words.
In this post, I will compare new vs. knew. I will use each word in an example sentence to illustrate its proper use and context. Plus, I will provide a mnemonic that you can use to help you decide whether you should use new or knew in your own writing.
New as adjective:
She was flaunting her new bike.
Knew as verb:
He knew and respected Laura.
In Rome on Friday, Simone Farelli, a 34-year-old history teacher who was browsing for a new iPhone at an Apple Store, said she “didn’t see why” the company’s standoff with the Federal Bureau of Investigation “would change my mind about buying a new phone.” (The New York Times)
In 1924, a year after founding the Turkish Republic on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the country’s new leader, abolished the Ottoman Caliphate, which had been the last remaining Sunni Islamic Caliphate since 1517. (The New Yorker)
New or knew:
The words knew and new are homophones, which mean they sound alike but mean different things. It’s important not to mix them up because they are actually different parts of speech. New is an adjective that means unused. Knew is the past tense form of the verb know, which means to understand or to be aware of. If you are having trouble using these words correctly, remember that knew is a verb and has to do with knowledge. Since both of these words start with the same two letters, you can link them together in your mind.