Isle vs. Aisle

Q: It drives me crazy when my friends mistake “isle” for “aisle.” Can you set the record straight so I prove to them once and for all there is a difference? —Elizabeth W.

A: It’s true that these two words sound alike, but you’re right—they have completely different meanings. Here’s an easy breakdown that defines both “isle” and “aisle” and will (hopefully) help your friends get it right.

An “isle” is a small island. Carl and his wife honeymooned on a remote isle. I’m not sure what’s bigger: the isle Gilligan was stranded on or my wife’s shoe collection.

An “aisle” is a narrow walkway, like in a church, supermarket or department store. The bride walked down the aisle. In which aisle can I find a nice pair of women’s shoes for my wife to apologize for that last joke?

An easy way to remember it is this: Churches have amens and aisles. Vacations have islands and isles. Unless you vacation at the supermarket, I guess. Then you’ll need to come up with your own mnemonic device.

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