Aisle vs. Isle: What’s the Difference?

English has a lot of confusing words, especially those words that look alike and sound alike. The two words I want to talk about today are no exception.

Choosing between aisle and isle can be difficult since they are only a single letter apart, and they sound identical when spoken. But, if you’re not sure which word to use and when, don’t worry. This is a common question.

What is the Difference Between Aisle and Isle?

Today, I want to discuss the difference between these two words, their definitions, and how to use them in a sentence. Plus, I’ll give you a few tricks for telling them apart. After reading this post, you shouldn’t ever mix up aisle vs. isle again.

When to Use Aisle

grocery store aisle or grocery store isleAn aisle is a passageway between rows and seats in a building, such as a church, theater, or auditorium.

  • The aisle was crowded with people looking for seats.
  • The musical had actors dancing in the aisles.
  • The aisles in these stores seem to get smaller and smaller.

An aisle can be more than a passageway between seats, of course. Supermarkets have aisles, factories have aisles, warehouses have aisles, etc.

Another common use of aisle is in a political context. When members of one political party talk about working with members of the opposing party, they often speak about their reaching across the aisle.

  • We need to reach across the aisle to fix this problem.
  • Solutions to the nation’s problem don’t reside on one side of the aisle.
  • There is no shortage of sound bites from either side of the aisle.

The metaphorical use of the word refers to the ways parties arrange themselves in meetings of Congress or Parliament, with certain parties sitting on certain sides of the aisle. As a result of this segmentation, political opinions or public policies became known as coming from “one side of the aisle or another.”

When you see people using isle in a political context, it is a mistake. The correct word choice is aisle.

When to Use Isle

grocery store isles or grocery aisle or ile seatAn isle is an island, usually a small one.

  • The British Isles is a great place to visit.
  • I was stranded on a desert isle for six years.
  • The pirates were in search of the lost isle for buried treasure.

Remember the Difference

As you can see, both words have widely different meanings. Aisle refers to a passageway between rows and isle refers to a mass of land.

But, if you have a hard time remembering this difference, have no fear. There is a great trick you can use each and every time you can’t decide which is correct, aisle or isle.

An aisle is something that you find on an airplane. Both of these words start with the same two letters, “AI.”

An isle, on the other hand, is an island. Both of these words start with the same two letters, “IS.”


The two words, isle vs. aisle, may sound similar, but their meanings could not be more different. Many writers aren’t sure when to use isle or aisle, but the trick to remember is actually quite easy.

Aisle is a passageway between rows or seats that is found in churches, airplanes, auditoriums, etc.

Isle is a small island.

Both words start with the same two letters as their hints, Aisle, Airplane; Isle Island.