It Dawned (Donned?) On Me

  • The correct spelling of the phrase is “It dawned on me”
  • “It donned on me” is a a common mistake

It’s challenging when two words sound the same but are spelled differently. These kinds of words are called homophones. They can cause a lot of misunderstandings. Some well-known homophones are there, their, and they’re. Or another example is hair and hare.

it dawned on me is correct

Today we will focus on a different set of homophones: Dawn and don. A popular phrase is “it dawned on me,” which means “I became aware of,” or “I understood.” It is incorrect to say “it donned on me.” However, it is a common mistake.  

The verb to dawn means “to become visible” and often refers to mental awareness. If something “dawns” on someone, then a new understanding has come their way.  

On the other hand, the verb to don means “to put on clothing.” There is also a figurative meaning, which is “to assume,” or “to get into.”  

Even though these words have such different meanings, they are pronounced the same.

dawn [dôn] rhymes with yawn and lawn 

don [dŏn] rhymes with con, on and Ron

So, the next time you write one of these words, pause and choose your spelling carefully!

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By Patrice Riley

Patrice Riley is the pen name of Dr. Deborah Riley. She is a retired English professor that enjoys grammar, literature, and all things writing.

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