The English language is tricky. Words can sound the same but have very different meanings. This makes mastering grammatical rules difficult.
One set of confusing words are peek, peak, and pique. All three words share the same pronunciation, pēk, but have unique definitions and usage.
Peek in verb form is used without an object and means “to look quickly,” typically at something that is usually concealed.
- Jaime peeked over the fence to see what her neighbor was doing.
Peek can also be a noun, meaning “a quick look”.
- Unfortunately, a quick peek wasn’t enough for Jaime to know what was happening next door.
The noun form of peak means “the pointed top of something,” usually a mountain or ridge.
- After years of attempts, Marc finally reached the mountain’s peak.
Peak also has a verb form that means “to attain the height of something,” usually popularity or activity.
- Despite the new attention, Marc’s climbing career peaked years ago.
When used as a verb without an object, pique means “to affect with sharp irritation and resentment” or “to excite.”
- Aimee’s interest was piqued when her partner delivered a beautiful box.
Pique can also be a noun, meaning “a feeling of irritation or resentment.”
- After opening the box and not liking its contents, Aimee found herself in a pique.
Most grammar issues are solved by reading the sentence out loud. Our ears can tell when the word choice is incorrect. However, words that sound the same render this method useless.
“Pique over the peek with peaked interest” might sound correct out loud but it’s a horrible misuse of all three words. Knowing the definitions of peek, peak, and pique is the only way to ensure their proper usage.
Originally published at prowritingaid.com.