Aisle vs. Isle

What is the difference?


Aisle and isle are two commonly confused words in the English language. When do you use each one?

It is easy to get the two words mixed up. They have the same pronunciation and the only difference in their spelling is one letter. However, this one letter is very important. It can be the difference between going on a tropical vacation and going to the grocery store!

Let's look at some examples below so you can understand the differences between aisle and isle.

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses


Aisle

Aisle is a noun that means a walkway between two objects. Aisles are often found between shelves and rows of seats.

Examples:

  1. The candy aisle is Mary's favorite part of the grocery store.
    (Mary likes the walkway between the shelves filled with candy the best.)

    An aisle in the grocery store
  2. I have to squeeze past the people dancing in the aisle to get to my seat at the concert.
    (People dancing in the walkway between the rows of seats made it difficult for me to get to my seat.)

    People in a concert
  3. When Jon rides on airplanes, he always requests a seat on the aisle.
    (Jon prefers sitting in the seat closest to the walkway when he is flying.)

    airplane aisle
  4. Allan cried when he saw his bride walk down the aisle at their wedding.
    (Seeing his bride walk down the walkway between the rows of seats in the church made Allan emotional.)

    A bride walking down the aisle


Isle

Isle is also a noun, but it means an area of land that is surrounded by water. In other words, it is an island. Note that the S in "isle" is silent (you do not pronounce it).

Example:

  1. Amanda wants to take a vacation to a tropical isle.
    (Amanda wants to visit a sunny, warm, piece of land surrounded by water.)

    A tropical isle
  2. The Isle of Man is one of the most famous isles.
    (The Isle of Man is one of the most famous small islands.)

    Isle of Man
  3. My friends are planning a party on an isle, but I am afraid of water so I am not going.
    (I am not going to the party because is it on a small piece of land surrounded by water and I am afraid of water.)

    A party on the beach with a DJ


Tips

Even though aisle and isle look similar and sound exactly the same, they are very different words. If you are confused about which one to use, just look at the first three letters of the word.

When you are talking about an island, use isle. The first three letters of "island" and "isle" are exactly the same, so you know isle is the word you want.

If you are talking about anything other than an island, you want to use aisle.

Easy on the beach


A Story to Practice Aisle vs. Isle

John tried to get a seat on the aisle for the plane ride to the isle, but instead he got a seat by the window. Flying over water makes him feel sick so, when he has to do it, he always sits by the aisle, where he can easily stand up and walk around.

John's daughter is getting married tomorrow on an isle in the Mediterranean Sea. John doesn't know why she decided to walk down the aisle on a remote isle.

The plane is so high now that the continent outside his window looks like an isle. She should have had her wedding in the mountains or a desert, far away from any isles, so he could avoid flying over water.

He opens up his backpack and eats some of the snacks he bought yesterday, when he walked up and down every aisle of the grocery store. Then, he closes his eyes and sighs, wishing his seat was closer to the aisle so he doesn't have to see all the isles below him. He tries to fall asleep as he tells himself that it is worth it to travel to any isle to walk his daughter down the most important aisle!


Quiz

Answer the following 10 questions and then check your answers. Each question is worth 10 points.

Part 1

  1. Which of the following is a correct definition of aisle?
    1. A large body of water
    2. A piece of land surrounded by water
    3. A walkway between two objects
    4. A shelf filled with food

  2. Which of the following is a correct definition of isle?
    1. A piece of land surrounded by water
    2. A shelf filled with food
    3. A large body of water
    4. A walkway between two objects

Part 2

  1. Which of the following sentences is written correctly?
    1. He saw an empty parking spot at the end of the isle.
    2. For their anniversary, they wanted to take a trip to an aisle.
    3. I spend my free time exploring the aisles of bookstores.
    4. She asked to switch seats so she could sit by the isle.

  2. Which of the following sentences is written incorrectly?
    1. She walks down the aisle while her favorite song plays.
    2. The isle is blocked by a beverage cart.
    3. He likes to take his boat to an empty isle.
    4. This aisle is filled with toys.

Part 3

  1. Which of the following is true about the words aisle and isle?
    1. They sound different.
    2. One is an adjective and the other is a noun.
    3. They mean the same thing.
    4. They are both nouns.

  2. Where would you expect to find an aisle?
    1. At a wedding
    2. In a theater
    3. On a plane
    4. All of the above

  3. Where would you expect to find an isle?
    1. In the ocean
    2. At a store
    3. On a street
    4. All of the above

Part 4

  1. Aaron ran quickly down the _________ to get to the bathroom.
    1. isle
    2. isles
    3. aisle
    4. aisles

  2. The ocean is filled with countless _________.
    1. isle
    2. isles
    3. aisle
    4. aisles

  3. My job is to make sure that the _________ of the store are properly organized.
    1. isle
    2. isles
    3. aisle
    4. aisles


Answer Key

1. C | 2. A | 3. C | 4. B | 1. D | 2. D | 3. A | 1. C | 2. B | 3. D


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