‘Isle' or 'Aisle': What's the Difference?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on December 16, 2022

Look no further if you're wondering what the difference is between 'isle' and 'aisle.' In this article, we get into the meaning of both words and when you should use each one.

The short version is that 'isle' is an island, and 'aisle' is a passageway between two rows of things.

'Isle' or 'Aisle'; What's the Difference?

So what's the difference between these two words? Well, first of all, let's look at the similarities.

  • They are both nouns
  • They both have a silent -s
  • They are both pronounced exactly the same

The reason for their identical pronunciation is that they are homophones. That means they sound alike when you say them out loud, but they have different meanings. Some examples of other homophones include 'weather' / 'whether,' 'your’/’you’re' and 'margarita' / 'margherita.'

The correct way to pronounce both words is the same as the word 'I'll".

But as I mentioned, they both have entirely different meanings and should be used in completely different contexts. So let's find out the meaning of each word.

When Do I Use 'Isle?'

An isle is a word often used to refer to an island. Often the implication is that an isle is smaller than an island, but this isn't necessarily true. 'Isle' and 'island' are, in fact, synonymous, but 'island' is a more commonly used word.

The one difference is that you'll often see the word 'isle' accompanied by the name of the isle itself, whereas this isn't the case for 'island.' For example:

  • Isles of Shoals
  • British Isles
  • Amirante Isles

Remember to capitalize the 'i' in 'isle' if the word is part of the country's proper name, like in the examples above. You don't need to use an uppercase -I, however, if you're referring to an isle that doesn't have 'isle' in the name.

Here are some examples of the word 'isle' in use:

Just north of the isle is a lighthouse.

He comes from a Danish isle named Bornholm.

The cottage is located right in the center of a beautiful little isle in the Pacific Ocean.

Top tip! 'To isle' can also be a verb. It means 'to make an isle out of' or 'to place on an isle.'

When Do I Use 'Aisle?'

An 'aisle' is a passage between two rows of things. You'll find aisles at supermarkets, creating a corridor between the shelves so you can walk through. You'll also find aisles on planes, allowing you to pass through the seats. You also walk down the aisle when you get married.

'Aisle' has a political meaning, too: it's the divide between two different political parties.

Here are some examples of the word used in sentences:

The bride looked stunning as she walked down the aisle.

Both sides of the aisle support the new legislation.

The carrots are in aisle three.

Can you sit down? You're blocking the flight attendants from moving the trolley down the aisle.

There's a food clearance aisle where everything's 40% off.

Concluding Thoughts on 'Isle' or 'Aisle'

We've learned that the difference between the two words is vast; they have entirely different meanings. An excellent way to memorize the correct spelling for each is to remember that 'isle' is just a shorter word for 'island' and that 'island' begins with -is, and as such, so does 'isle.'

To learn to differentiate more homophones and other confusing word spellings, visit our blog.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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