Aisle vs Isle – What’s The Difference?

Aisle and isle are pronounced the same and spelled almost the same (with that bizarre, silent S), but their meanings are quite different. 

An aisle is a walkway or passage — often between seating, as in a church, train, or theater, or between shelving, as in a library or grocery store.

An isle is an island — generally a little one. 

Though isle usually refers to a small island, we find exceptions to this rule in a few established place names and phrases, such as “the British Isles” — some of which are pretty big!

Examples of Aisle

Most of us are familiar with the long, carpeted aisles found in churches and theaters.

In many weddings, the bride’s father walks the bride down the aisle.

We also have aisles in libraries and grocery stores, which are hedged in by shelves.

Adrian’s favorite cheese crackers are in the gluten-free aisle next to the rice cakes.

Which Side of the Aisle?
The word aisle has taken on a metaphorical sense in the United States. In political discourse, we refer to different ‘sides of the aisle,’ meaning different political parties. 
The “aisle” in this phrase is a reference to a literal aisle in Congress. Traditionally, members of different political parties sit on opposite sides of this aisle.
For example:The popular measure passed in the House with votes from both sides of the aisle.

Examples of Isle

Though not as popular as the word island, isle is an acceptable alternative.

Mike and Mick went canoeing in the bay, rowing from isle to isle, noting that some were covered in trees, and others were so small they barely could hold a bush.

Additionally, the proper names of some islands include the word isle, as in this example:

My parents spent their summer in the U.K., with a brief stay on the Isle of Wight.

“Aisle” Tell You How to Remember the Difference

To keep these words straight, you can use this trick:

  • aisleaisles are found on airplanes, and these words begin with the same letters — ai.
  • isle  – an isle is an island, and both of these words begin with the letter i. (Not an a in saight — I mean, sight.)

And “Isle” Use Them Both at the Same Time

Just for funsies, let’s look at an example that uses both aisle and isle:

The couple decided to get married in Ireland, and the bride was thrilled to march down the aisle on the Emerald Isle.

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