These three homophones (words that sound alike but mean different things) have a tendency to trip people up in written communication. For instance, I can recall a recent conversation with someone who had no idea that “cite” and “site” were not the same word. That experience inspired me to pass the explanation on to you. To that end, I hope you find this Grammar refresher useful. As always, email me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Site – Refers to a location.
Example: Bring the tools to the construction site.
Sight – Refers to vision.
Example: She blushed at the sight of him.
Cite – To refer to a source or a reason. To make a reference to something.
Example: Mary forgot to cite the sources in her research paper.
A. Most professional athletes cite nutrition as one reason for their success.
B. Most professional athletes site nutrition as a one reason for their success.
C. Most professional athletes sight nutrition as a one reason for their success.
The correct answer is ‘A.’ In this sentence, nutrition is listed as a reason that professional athletes are successful.
Let’s try another one:
A. Where exactly was the sight of the recent archeological jewelry discovery?
B. Where exactly was the cite of the recent archeological jewelry discovery?
C. Where exactly was the site of the recent archeological jewelry discovery?
The correct answer is ‘C’ because the sentence is talking about the location of the archeological jewelry discovery.
Let’s try one more:
A. Don’t lose sight of your goals.
B. Don’t lose site of your goals.
C. Don’t lose cite of your goals.
The correct answer is ‘A.’ Although the sentence does not refer to vision in the literal sense, a goal is something that you ‘see’ happening for yourself.