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What’s The Difference Between “Sent,” “Cent,” and “Scent”?

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“Sent,” “cent,” and “scent” have identical pronunciations but different definitions. We’ll explain what they are and show you how to always use these words correctly.

White text over green background reads "sent vs. cent vs. scent." (Sent Cent Scent) (Sent and send)
Do you know the difference between “sent,” “cent,” and “scent”?
  • Sent is the past tense and past participle of send, which means “to cause to go or be taken to a particular destination,” “arrange for the delivery of, especially by mail,” or “cause (a message or computer file) to be transmitted electronically.
    • Jacob sent over a bouquet of flowers since he couldn’t make it to the birthday dinner.
  • Cent refers to “a monetary unit of the US, Canada, and various other countries, equal to one hundredth of a dollar, euro, or other decimal currency unit.”
    • My baby cousin loves to collect cents she finds on the sidewalk.
  • Scent can be a noun that means “a distinctive smell,” or “power of smelling.” As a verb, it refers to “impart a pleasant scent to,” or “discern by the sense of smell.”
    • Olivia looked for a candle that had a vanilla and lavender scent.

“Sent, Cent, and Scent”: Understanding What “Homophones” Are

Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings. They are just one of the many aspects of the English language that make it so challenging. Take for example the words wait and weight. If someone were to randomly approach you saying one of these words with no context, you wouldn’t know if they’re asking you to stay where you are, or if they’re asking how much you weigh.

There are numerous homophones that are tricky for native speakers and English language learners alike. This blog post will teach you about a commonly confused trio: sent, cent, and scent. We’ll go over their definitions and show you how to always use them correctly.

What Does “Sent” Mean?

To know what sent /sent/ means, you must first familiarize yourself with past tense and past participle. Past tense is used to refer to something that happened in the past. For example, the past tense of jump is jumped. Past participle, on the other hand, is “the form of a verb which is used in forming perfect and passive tenses and sometimes as an adjective.” The past tense and past participle form usually end in “–ed”, unless the verb is irregular, like send.

The verb send means:

  • “to cause to go or be taken to a particular destination.”
  • “to cause (a message or computer file) to be transmitted electronically.”

Because send is an irregular verb, the past tense and past participle is sent. Here are examples of the word sent being used in a sentence:

Jordan sent me to the grocery store to buy some eggs.
(Past tense)
I sent all the wedding invitations via mail last week.
(Past tense)
Ingrid had sent over dinner because she knew she was going to be late.
(Past participle)

What Does “Cent” Mean?

Cent /sent/ is a noun that is defined as “a coin and unit of many worth 1% of the main unit of many in many countries.” For example, in the United States, one cent refers to one penny. The plural form of this word is cents.

Do you have ten cents you can lend me?
The price of goods, like rice and milk, has risen by at least 80 cents or more.
I couldn’t believe I was wrong by one cent. I guessed that the book cost $4.99, but it actually cost $5.
Sent Cent Scent (Sent or Send)
“Cents” almost always come in the form of coins (they both start with “c”).

What Does “Scent” Mean?

The last word of this homophone trio can be used as both a noun and a verb.

As a noun, the definition of scent is “a distinctive smell, especially one that is agreeable.”

Her perfume has a memorable scent.

It can also refer to “a trail indicated by the characteristic smell of an animal or perceptible to hounds or other animals.”

Bloodhounds are trained to follow a specific scent and have found many missing people.

As a verb, (to) scent means “to give something a particular, pleasant smell.”

The staff scented the air with natural oils before the guest arrived.

It can also mean “to find something by using the sense of smell.”

Sharks are known to scent blood from over half a mile away.

Lastly, scent can be synonymous to sense in that it means “to begin to feel that something exists or is about to happen.”

My dad has lived on his farm his whole life and could always scent when a tornado was about to hit.

LanguageTool vs. Tricky Trios Like “Sent,” “Cent,” and “Scent”

Homophones can be confusing, especially when they come in trios. Luckily, LanguageTool can detect when you’ve used a word incorrectly and will help you correct it. Additionally, this multilingual text editor can also suggest stylistic improvements and provide synonyms that’ll strengthen your writing. Try it out today.

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