Let’s look at the differences between hole and whole with Grammar Rules from the Writer’s Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Tackling homophones is nothing new for these Grammar Rules posts, but this one is a little different, because this week’s homophones are almost antonyms. After all, one word means that something is complete, while the other word indicates an opening in something.

(How to Create the Mental Space to Write.)

So let’s look at the differences between hole and whole and when to use each.

Hole vs. Whole

Hole is a noun that refers to an opening in something. Like a hole in your pants or a hole in the road. Holes can also refer to weaknesses. In writing, it’s not uncommon to hear someone refer to plot holes, which are unexplained openings or weaknesses in a story’s plot. Hole can also be used as a verb to indicate the action of creating a hole.

(7 Great Ways to Add Subplots to Your Novel.)

Whole, on the other hand, is a noun, adjective, or adverb that refers to something being or becoming complete and/or restored. If you read the whole book, it means you read the entire book from beginning to end. 

Make sense?

Here are a few examples of hole and whole:

Correct: I need a new sock, because this one has a hole in it.
Incorrect: I need a new sock, because this one has a whole in it.

Correct: With all its pieces in place, this puzzle is now whole.
Incorrect: With all its pieces in place, this puzzle is now hole.

Correct: The whole point of miniature golf is to hit the ball in the hole.

For me, keeping these two homophones straight is as simple as how they’re spelled. The four-letter hole is missing a “w,” so it has a hole in it. Meanwhile, the “w” completes the five-letter whole.

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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.

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