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Aww or Awe? What’s the Difference?

Homophones are Frequently Mixed Up

When two words sound the same but are spelled differently and mean different things, those are called homophones — and they can cause much confusion! A homophone that is frequently mixed up is “Awe” and “Aww.” What’s the difference between the two?

Aww or Awe
When should you use “Aww” vs. “Awe?”

What is the Definition of “Awe?”

Awe is either a noun or verb, depending on the context. As a noun, “awe” is the feeling of amazement and surprise that comes from being impressed by how grand something is.

Often it comes with a sentiment of feeling small in juxtaposition with the hugeness (either literal or conceptual) of the thing causing the awe. There can even be some fear mixed in.

As a verb, “to awe” means to cause those feelings of amazement, impressing others. Unlike “Aww,” the word “awe” is rarely used on its own. It’s supposed to be embedded inside sentences. Let’s see some…

Examples of Awe in Sentences

Sentences with “Awe” Used as a NOUN:

  • I am in awe of how big that dragon is! It makes me feel like a tiny speck in comparison. Wowza!
  • The boy felt awe, watching the expert way his parents fixed the statue he had broken. Their hands moved as if by magic! Maybe someday he would also have that level of skill.
Aww or awe
She was in total awe of the pyramids in Egypt when she saw them in person!

Sentences with “Awe” Used as a VERB:

  • The child awed her parents with how many veggies she ate in one sitting. Her mother didn’t think it was possible for a four year old to scarf down 15 heads of broccoli!
  • The benefits of drawing awe me every time I pick up a pencil. After just five minutes, I feel happier. Drawing has superpowers for lifting one’s mood.

The Adjective “Awesome” comes from “Awe”

You may be wondering if the common American describing word, “Awesome!” derives from “awe,” and indeed it does — but be careful, because it’s not used exactly how it “should be” anymore.

Technically, something that is “awesome” induces “awe,” which means it is truly spectacular — on the level of the Great Pyramids of Egypt. However, it now is used for anything that’s even mildly good or enjoyable. For example: “That rainbow drawing is awesome! Whose is it?” Now, the drawing may be pleasant to look at, however it’s not on the level of the pyramids… but that’s fine. Word meanings change over time, and we go with the flow.

Aww means so cute or sad.
“Aww!” look at that cute squirrel in a hat!

What Does “Aww” or “Aw” Mean?

The sound “Aww” or “Aw” is an interjection — an utterance — that is onomatopoeia (a “sound effect word”) for that sigh of emotion that people make when they see, hear, or experience something cute, sweet, or sad. Think of a sentimental tone or mood.

Unlike the fancy word “Awe,” “Aww” is an informal word — not even technically a “real word” — and is often used either at the start of a sentence that explains the sentiment, or simply on its own. For spelling the word, it is acceptable to use either one “w” or two, though “Aw” is slightly more accepted.

Examples of “Aww!” in Sentences:

  • Aw, that flower crown looks really good on you. Definitely wear it to the dance next week — or even just every day!”
  • Aww, I’ve never seen anything so hilariously sweet as that octopus with a top hat!”
  • Aw, I’m really sorry that you forgot to do your homework because your hand disappeared overnight. Unfortunately, I still have to give you a zero until you make up the assignment.”

VIDEO: Aww or Awe?

Should I use “Aww” or “Awe?”

Still wondering whether to use “Awe” or “Aw?” Ask yourself this: Are you in total amazement and wonder at what is happening, and are you going to use the word “awe” in the middle of a sentence to describe that? Use “awe.”

Most of the time, however, if you’re sending a text message or writing dialogue, you actually mean: “Aww,” because you’re trying to spell the sound that humans make when they feel moved by sweet or sad emotion. “Aw” or “Aww” can be used on its own, or at the start of a sentence.

The following sentence may help show the difference between these two words, and also provide a fitting conclusion for this post: “Aww, I’m so appreciative that you’ve read this whole article! I’m in awe of your dedication to learning different spellings of homophones, even though it can be frustrating at times. Keep up your great work!”

Feel free to use the comment section below to request an illustration of a specific other grammar, spelling, or ELA concept. It brings me great joy to create these drawings and tutorials and to hear how they help people, so share away, and do be in touch.

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The author, Lillie Marshall, is a National Board Certified Teacher of English and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched DrawingsOf.com Educational Cartoons in 2020, building upon the success of her other two sites, AroundTheWorldL.com (established 2009) and TeachingTraveling.com (founded 2010). Subscribe to Lillie's monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media to stay connected!

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