Garner's Usage Tip of the Day: site; sight.

site; sight. This is yet another example of homophonic confusion. A "site" is a place or location; a "sight" is (among other things) something seen or worth seeing. This example is an unusually close call: "The intern liked to ask the 42-year-old lawyer, who was working for the firm as an independent contractor, for advice ranging from how to maintain integrity as a lawyer to what sights [read ‘sites’?] he should visit in California." "Victims of Chance in Deadly Rampage," N.Y. Times, 7 July 1993, at A7. Why a close call? Because a "site" is a place, but one talks about "seeing the sights." This one isn’t: "The site [read ‘sight’], therefore, of Fudge stepping out of the fire once more, looking disheveled and fretful and sternly surprised that the Prime Minister did not know exactly why he was there, was about the worst thing that had happened in the course of this extremely gloomy week." J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 10 (1st Am. ed. 2005). The phrase "set one’s sights" is a set phrase meaning "to aim at" or "to have as one’s ambition." Writers sometimes mangle the phrase, most commonly by writing "sites" for "sights" — e.g.: "He set his sites [read ‘sights’] on a law career early." Scott Fornek, "Inner-City Success Story Turns Tragic," Chicago Sun-Times, 20 Sept. 1994, at 3. Language-Change Index — "sight" misused for "site." ——————– Quotation of the Day: "Grammar is the logic of speech, even as logic is the grammar of reason." Richard Chenevix Trench, On the Study of Words 27 (17th ed. 1878).
Scroll to Top