The Farlex Grammar Book > English Spelling and Pronunciation > Common Mistakes and Commonly Confused Words > aisle vs. isle
aisle vs. isle
What is the difference between aisle and isle?
The homophones aisle (“a passageway that divides rows of seats”) and isle (“an island, especially a small one”) are both pronounced /aɪl/; the S is silent in both.
The confusion between these two terms actually goes back to their Middle English origins, ele (aisle) and ile (isle), which have been confused for one another since the 15th century. Ile, taken from Old French, was originally spelled the same as it is in modern English—isle. When the silent S was reintroduced to isle in the late 16th century, it was erroneously applied to the term ele as well, which acquired the initial a- shortly thereafter.
Spelling Tricks and Tips
As a quick way to remember the correct spelling, keep in mind that because isle refers to small islands, it has fewer letters and is thus the smaller of the two words.
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