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Pain versus pane

Posted by Wendy Wood on 12th February , 2020 in Grammar
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I was reading a book last night in bed, struggling to stay awake to finish the chapter. But I bolted awake when I read this sentence: “I could hear tree limbs creaking as the rain fell in torrents against the double-pained windows.” I couldn’t read through the pane!

Pane and pain are homophones, or words pronounced alike but different in meaning and/or spelling. Spellchecker won’t catch them, even when the incorrect choice doesn’t make sense. Here’s how Macquarie Dictionary defines them:

Pain: noun 1. bodily or mental suffering or distress.
2. a distressing sensation in a particular part of the body.
3. (plural) laborious or careful efforts; assiduous care.

Pane: noun 1. one of the divisions of a window, etc., consisting of a single plate of glass in a
2. a plate of glass for such a division.
3. a panel, as of a wainscot, ceiling, door, etc.

So, the obvious choice is “double-paned windows,” unless you want to cause great pain to your readers.

Wendy Wood


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