‘Site’ vs ‘Sight’ vs ‘Cite’: What’s the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on May 8, 2023

Are you stuck wondering the difference between 'site' vs. 'sight' vs. 'cite?' If so, do not feel bad. You are not alone!

These three words sound the same but have entirely different meanings, which gets confusing. However, I've created a guide to help you remember which one to use and when.

Need a quick answer?

Here it is: 

  • 'Site' is a noun that means the land or ground a town or building sits on. 
  • 'Sight' is a verb or noun that describes the experience of seeing or the ability to see. 
  • 'Cite' is a verb or noun that means to quote, mention, or give credit to something or a citation. 

Gaining a deeper understanding of the differences between these words will help you remember how to use them in the future. So, read through the definitions, usage examples, and sample sentences below, and remember you cannot use them interchangeably.

When to Use 'Site' vs. 'Sight' vs. 'Cite'

As I mentioned, these three words sound the same but have different spellings and meanings.

So, how do you know when to use them?

  • Use 'site' when you are referring to a location.

For example, you might say:

 The site of the original town is right down the street from the current downtown district. 

  • Use 'sight' when describing the act or ability to see.

For example, you may hear someone say something like:

Sight is one of the most important senses. However, there have been some incredibly gifted musicians who were blind. 

Use 'cite' when quoting, mentioning, or attributing work, especially in research or academic papers.

For example, you might hear your professor say:

Your research paper will count as your end-of-semester exam. Keep track of your sources; you will fail if you do not cite them in the assignment

How to Use 'Site' vs. 'Sight' vs. 'Cite'

You learned that these words sound the same but have different meanings. So, you use each differently.

The first means a location, land, or ground an establishment occupies.

For example:

  • You could visit a 'site.'

The second is the ability to see or the action of viewing something.

For example:

  • You could view the Grand Canyon's inspiring 'sight' at sunrise.

The third means to repeat, record, or attribute something.

For example:

  • You should always 'cite' your sources when writing a paper. It gives you credibility and allows the reader to do further research on their own.

Unlike other similar sets of words, like:

  • Nite and night
  • Brite and bright
  • Mould and mold
  • Favour and favor
  • Honour and honor
  • Towne and town

'Site' and 'sight' are not spelling variations of the same word. 'Site' always refers to a location, whereas 'sight' always means to see or the ability to see.

For example:

  • You might 'cite' the story by a famous author in which the main character cries at the 'sight' of the old town 'site.'

So, you should never use these words interchangeably or change their spelling for British English style writing.

Definition of 'Site': What Does 'Site' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a 'site' is:

  • A spatial location of a planned building or set of buildings

It can also mean:

  • A town
  • The location where something will be built
  • A space that something once occupied
  • The place where something was erected
  • The location of a historical event

Words or Phrases Containing 'Site'

  • Website
  • Job site
  • Worksite
  • Battle site
  • Official site
  • Historical site
  • Home site
  • Construction site
  • Religious site
  • Archeological site
  • Tourist site
  • Travel site
  • Site launch
  • Launch site
  • Official site
  • Unofficial site
  • Blast site
  • Settlement site
  • Government site
  • Educational site
  • Historic home site
  • Nature site
  • Man Made site
  • Educational site
  • Famous site
  • Legendary site
  • Site of origin

Definition of 'Sight': What Does 'Sight' Mean?

  • The same dictionary defines 'sight' as:
  • Something that is seen

It can also mean:

  • Spectacle
  • Something outrageous, shocking, or offensive
  • The act of seeing
  • The ability to see
  • Range of vision
  • Zeroing in a gun scope accurately
  • An apparatus that helps someone focus on something
  • Aspiration
  • To catch a glimpse of
  • To aim at something
  • Immediately recognizable by sight
  • Something worth seeing
  • A memorable view

Words and Phrases Containing 'Sight'

  • Out of sight, out of mind
  • Sight unseen
  • Motivational sight
  • Beautiful sight
  • Inspirational sight
  • A sight for sore eyes
  • Nearsighted
  • Farsighted
  • Sighted
  • Sights
  • Known by sight
  • Recognizable by sight

Definition of 'Cite': What Does 'Cite' Mean?

Finally, the dictionary defines 'cite' as:

  • To call upon to appear officially

It can also mean:

  • To quote by example
  • To recognize
  • To repeat
  • To include a citation
  • To bring something to the attention of someone else
  • Mention
  • Quote
  • Summon

Words and Phrases Containing 'Cite'

  • Cited work
  • Scholarly citation
  • Cite your sources
  • In-text citation
  • Notated citation
  • Citatory
  • Cited
  • Cites
  • Citation
  • Cited sources

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Site' vs. 'Sight' vs. 'Cite'

When it comes to the pronunciation of 'site' vs. 'sight,' vs. 'cite' there is no difference. These three words are homophones, which means they differ in spelling and meaning but have the same pronunciation.

Here is a phonetic spelling guide.

Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'site,' 'sight,' and 'cite':


How to Use 'Site' vs. 'Sight' vs. 'Cite' in a Sentence

Now that you know how and when to use these homophones properly and their definitions, look at these example sentences.


  • Please do not travel to the site until you have confirmed that there is suitable lodging.
  • Meet me at the site of the old coal mine tomorrow at noon. I will be waiting by the entrance.
  • The town hall was erected on the site in 1856.
  • It is crucial to preserve the site so that future generations can learn from the events that unfolded here.
  • The mysterious site confuses citizens and world-renowned scientists.


  • The sight of the Grand Canyon is breathtaking, especially when the sunset paints the sky with vibrant colors.
  • The bird's eye view from the lookout platform makes the sight of the city even more unforgettable.
  • She prayed that she would regain her sight after the surgery.
  • The scientist said the dinosaur bones they uncovered at the excavation site were a sight.
  • She struggled to adapt after being sighted her entire life. However, she is getting better at relying on her other senses.


  • The professor may not accept your paper if you do not cite your sources.
  • Do you know if any reputable sites have cited your work?
  • You can use an in-text cite for less formal papers.
  • Please cite at least five peer-reviewed sources in your research paper.
  • Cite the trending quote from the author's latest book in your article.

Final Advice on the Difference Between 'Site' vs. 'Sight' vs 'Cite'

Regarding confusing words, 'site' vs. 'sight' vs. 'cite' takes the cake. They are similar to other sets of three homophones. However, 'site' and 'sight' do not follow the traditional American and British English rules.

So, here is a quick recap:

  • 'Site' and 'sight' have different meanings and are not interchangeable. 
  • You pronounce the three words the same. 
  • 'Site' is a noun or verb for a location on which an establishment occupies.
  • 'Sight' is a noun, verb, or adjective that means to see or observe, zero in on, or catch a glimpse of something. 
  • 'Cite' is a verb meaning to quote, acknowledge, or include. 

Hopefully, you understand how to use 'site' vs. 'sight' vs. 'cite' now, but if you forget, you can always come back to this page for a reminder. You can also visit the other guides in our confusing words section to learn about other homophones and phrases that may trip you up.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

Add new comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WritingTips.org Newsletter
Receive information on
new articles posted, important topics, and tips.
Join Now
We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.