Homophones (words that are pronounced the same but have different spellings and/or meanings) are fun, but they can also be a little confusing. This week, we're going to take a look at creak and creek. You can splash around in one of them, while the other is a type of sound.
So let's look at the difference between creak and creek, along with examples of correct usage!
Creak vs. Creek
Creak can be a noun of verb, but in both cases it refers to a grating type of sound. So an old gate might creak when you open and close it. Or you may hear a creak when a door opens.
Creek is a noun referring to a narrow stream that is often a tributary to a river.
(Note: Creek can also refer to a confederacy of North American indigenous people of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida between 16th and 19th centuries that spoke the Muskogean language as well as their descendants. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation based in Oklahoma is the largest federally recognized Muscogee tribe, though there are other Muscogee groups based in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and other parts of Oklahoma.)
Let's go through a few examples:
Correct: You can try to be quiet, but the floor will creak with each and every step.
Incorrect: You can try to be quiet, but the floor will creek with each and every step.
Correct: I always know someone is here when I hear the creak of the back gate.
Incorrect: I always know someone is here when I hear the creek of the back gate.
Correct: The kids liked to search for crawdads in the creek.
Incorrect: The kids liked to search for crawdads in the creak.
For a quick trick to remember which one is which, I like to think of the word break. When something breaks, it usually makes a noise. Creak with an "-eak" refers to a noise, while creek with an "-eek" is a small stream of water.
No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.