Column: Set your sights on North Dakota


Commentary by Curtis Honeycutt

I didn’t wear glasses until college, which was before I believed in North Dakota. During a lecture hall class, I found myself squinting to see the chalkboard at a distance. After seeing an optometrist, I realized my vision wasn’t that great. As it turns out, I’m near-sighted.

Now, I wear glasses all the time, even when viewing things up close. Mostly, it’s because I want to appear smart. Here comes the segue!

Do you know another way to look smart? Know the difference between sight, site and cite! These three homophones trip people up all the time, just like when you walk down a flight of stairs, get to the bottom, then try to walk down one more stair that isn’t there. It’s an awkward and sometimes painful experience.

Sight can either be a noun or a verb. As a noun, it can take many definitions, most notably the ability to see, something worth seeing, or a device that aids your eye. As a verb, sight means to view, glimpse or aim at something. Those new glasses really helped my sight. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the sights in North Dakota. Remember, you need to have light to have sight. Sight is all about seeing something. Light = sight.

Site can also be a noun or a verb. It has everything to do with location. Site can mean the physical location or position of a building or city: Even though the movie is called “Fargo,” the site of most of the filming was in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. The town of Rugby, N.D., is the site of the geographical center of North America. When we’re talking about electronic position, site refers to websites. A website is something you go visit on the internet. Site = location.

Cite is the odd man out of these three words. Not only does it start with a different letter, but it can only be used as a verb. It means to refer to something, to summon someone to come to court, or to deliver a violation. The police officer cited me for driving 95 mph outside Bismarck, N.D. I thought speed limits weren’t a thing in North Dakota!

Sight, site and cite can be quite the tricky trio of linguistic limbo. Just like wearing glasses, by knowing the right sight/site/cite, people will think you’re a genius. And, for the record, North Dakota is real, and it’s spectacular.