Are, Hour, and Our

Commonly Confused Words

are, hour, and our
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The short words are, hour, and our sound similar, but their meanings are not the same.

Definitions

The verb are is a present tense form of "to be" (as in "We are the champions").

The noun hour refers to a period of 60 minutes or a particular time of the day or night when an activity takes place (as in "You've yet to have your finest hour"). See the idiom alerts below.

The adjective (or possessive determiner) our is the possessive form of "we" (as in "These are the days of our lives").

Examples

  • "There are no happy endings.
    Endings are the saddest part."
    (Shel Silverstein, Every Thing On It. HarperCollins, 2011)
  • “There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.”
    (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, 1997)
  • "In the front seat, Kate Merlin sat alone and listened to the stewardess talking with some of the ground crew; their voices were very bright and awake for this hour of the morning."
    (Martha Gellhorn, "Miami--New York." The Atlantic Monthly, 1948)
  • "It was a Saturday morning, I remember, of a hot yellow day and it was the hour when my sister and I would ordinarily take to the streets on our wheels."
    (Tennessee Williams, "The Resemblance Between a Violin Case and a Coffin." Flair, 1951)
  • "We protect our children, our parents, and our friends by telling them the truth, but not always the full truth."
    (Frances Jacobson Harris, I Found It on the Internet: Coming of Age Online. ALA, 2011)
  • "Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource."
    (President John F. Kennedy)
  • "Our problem is that there are very few substances as destructive as Basilisk venom, and they're all dangerous to carry around with you."
    (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 2007)
  • "Our hope for the future has waned to such a degree that we risk sneers and snorts of derision when we confess that we are hoping for brighter tomorrows."
    (Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter. Random House, 2008)


Idiom Alerts

  • The expression after hours means some time after normal working or operating hours. It's typically used in reference to bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and the like. 
    "In the after-hours joint, everything was served in plastic cups. The customers all understood that in the event of a raid they were expected to immediately throw their cups to the floor, thereby destroying the evidence of serving after hours."
    (Howie Carr, Hitman: The Untold Story of Johnny Martorano. Tom Doherty, 2012)
  • The expression eleventh hour means at the latest possible moment before it's too late. 
    "Alice made another cheese sandwich. She was not abstemious and ate like a stray, like a pound pet rescued at the eleventh hour."
    (Joy Williams, The Quick and the Dead, 2000)
  • The expression hour after hour (or hour upon hour) means a long time.
    "Their real weapon was the merciless questioning that went on and on, hour after hour, tripping him up, laying traps for him, twisting everything that he said, convincing him at every step of lies and self-contradiction, until he began weeping as much from shame as from nervous fatigue."
    (George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1949)


    Practice

    (a) "Plans _____ nothing; planning is everything."
    (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

    (b) "When Mr. Arable returned to the house half an _____ later, he carried a carton under his arm."
    (E.B. White, Charlotte's Web, 1952)

    (c) "There was a light in mother's room and we heard father going down the hall, down the back stairs, and Caddy and I went into the hall. The floor was cold. _____ toes curled away from the floor while we listened to the sound."
    (William Faulkner, "That Evening Sun Go Down." The American Mercury, 1931)

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    Answers to Practice Exercises:

    (a) "Plans are nothing; planning is everything." (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

    (b) "When Mr. Arable returned to the house half an hour later, he carried a carton under his arm."
    (E.B. White, Charlotte's Web, 1952)

    (c) "There was a light in mother's room and we heard father going down the hall, down the back stairs, and Caddy and I went into the hall.

    The floor was cold. Our toes curled away from the floor while we listened to the sound."
    (William Faulkner, "That Evening Sun Go Down." The American Mercury, 1931)