Word Confusion: Are vs Hour vs Our

Posted August 14, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I know it’s rather surprising to think anyone could confuse these three — hour and our can be more confusing as they’re heterographs. Again, I do suspect it’s mostly that whole spellcheck vs. context issue.

Other times, I’m hoping it’s a case of simply not thinking as one reads along and not thinking of the definition of either are or our as the word is spoken. After all, look what so many have done to that poor ol’ “Word Confusion: Might’a not be a Could’a, Would’a, Should’a“, lol.

One of the tips given out on self-editing is to read the manuscript out loud. I’d like to add that authors should pay attention to each word as it is read.

Editing is not one pass through a file. It’s a series of passes. Each time, an editor is looking for something different. It may be commas and sentence structure one time. Another time it may be simply looking at the quotations around dialogue. It will always be looking at each word in the document. Assessing it. Ensuring that it’s the proper word being used. And yes, keeping in mind the author’s voice.

And, I’m going off track…sorry…this the hour of our need…

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Are Hour Our
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

“‘You are Here’ Street Sign” by Joe Goldberg from Seattle, WA, USA, is under CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

“Neon Internet Cafe Open 24 Hours” by Justinc is under the CC-BY-SA 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.

“U.S. Stamp: Save Our Pisce” by USPS is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Third person present verb of be

Noun 1;
Verb, auxiliary 2

Plural for the noun: ares
Past tense: were
Past participle: been
Gerund or present participle: being

Noun Adjective, possessive 3
Suffix 4, 5 [chiefly British]
[Historical] A metric unit of measure, equal to 100 square meters (about 119.6 square yards)

Used with a present participle to form continuous tenses

Used with a past participle to form the passive mood

Used with infinitive to indicate something due to happen

  • Used to express obligation or necessity
  • Used to express possibility
  • Used to hypothesize about something that might happen

[Archaic] Used with the past participle of intransitive verbs to form perfect tenses

A period of time equal to a twenty-fourth part of a day and night and divided into 60 minutes

  • A less definite period of time
  • The distance traveled in one hour

A point in time

  • A time of day or night
  • A time of day specified as an exact number of hours from midnight or midday
  • [Hours; with preceding numeral] A time so specified on the 24-hour clock
  • The time as formerly reckoned from sunrise
  • The appropriate time for some specific action

[Usually with an adjective] A period set aside for some purpose or marked by some activity

  • [Hours] A fixed period of time for an activity, such as work, use of a building, etc.

[Usually hours; in the Western Church] A short service of psalms and prayers to be said at a particular time of day, especially in religious communities

[Astronomy] 15° of longitude or right ascension (one twenty-fourth part of a circle)

Belonging to or associated with the speaker and one or more other people previously mentioned or easily identified

  • Belonging to or associated with people in general

Used by a writer, editor, or monarch to refer to something belonging to or associated with himself or herself

Variant spelling of -or 4, 5

The hectare is equivalent to 100 ares.

They are coming.

We are waiting.

His books are being published.

We are to meet him at 6:30.

You are to follow these orders.

They said we are to remain on board.

These snakes are to be found in North America.

If we are to lose…

Changing our clocks can give us an extra hour of daylight.

Rates have ranged from $9 to $32 an hour.

It was supposed to be a two-hour operation.

during the early hours of the morning

Ocean City is less than an hour away.

I wondered if my last hour had come.

You can’t turn him away at this hour.

The clock in the sitting room struck the hour.

The first bomb fell at 0051 hours.

It was about the ninth hour that they came.

Now that the hour had come, David decided he could not face it.

I wish I had more leisure hours.

Now if I had shortened working hours…

Jo and I had our hair cut.

When we hear a sound, our brains identify the source quickly.

We want to know what you, our readers, think.


Adjective: hourless, hour-long, hourlong, hourly
Adverb: hourly
Noun: hourglass
Pronoun: ours, ourself, ourselves
History of the Word:
1 Late 18th century from French, which is from the Latin area.

2 The origin of are is uncertain while be is from Old English bēon, which is an irregular and defective verb, whose full conjugation derives from several originally distinct verbs.

Middle English, from Anglo-Norman French ure, via Latin from the Greek hōra, meaning season, hour. 3 Old English ūre is of Germanic origin and related to us and the German unser.

4 From Latin, sometimes via the Anglo-Norman French -eour or the Old French -eor.

5 From Latin, sometimes via the Old French -or, -ur.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Couple on a Bike” by Quinn Dombrowski from Berkeley, USA, was uploaded by Anastasiarasputin under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license and “Black Windup Alarm Clock Face” is Sun Ladder’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL license; both are via Wikimedia Commons.