What are Homophones? Definition, Usage, and Examples


people learning homophones in English

Have you ever been embarrassed in your social media post or content because you’ve used the wrong word – a word that sounds the same but has a different meaning? Well, welcome to the world of homophones!girl listening to music

 

However, don’t worry, it’s not just you who gets confused when it comes to these words. If you’re in the process of learning the English language, then you must read this article!

We are going to discuss “what are homophones” in the easiest way possible. We’ll also give you examples to completely clear your confusion. Learning the English language should be interesting, and this post will make it even more enjoyable for you!

What are Homophones?

Homophones are a type of homonym: words that sound the same or are spelled the same, but do not have the same meaning. These words can occur in groups of two, three or four, but most commonly in groups of two. It is essential to be familiar with these words as well as their respective meanings as one mistake can completely change the meaning of a sentence.

English, the international language, has thousands of words that are adapted from different languages worldwide. Throughout its history, it has built an abundance of tricky words.

Homophone: Greek word Homo which means “the same”, and Greek word Phone, which means “sound.”

Can Homophones Be Spelled the Same?

To answer this clearly, let’s discuss the different types of homophones.

  1. Homonym – Words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings are called homonyms. Examples are site, cite, and sight/flu,flew/week, weak
  2. Homograph – These are the words with the same spelling but different meanings. Let’s say, for instance, the term “bat.” It could both refer to the animal, or a baseball bat.
  3. Oronym – Phrases or a group of words with a similar sound but different meanings are called oronyms. I scream and ice cream, for instance.
  4. Heterograph – These are the words with different spellings and different meanings that share the same sound. For example, I and eye/hear and here.
  5. Pseudo-homophone – These words are phonetically identical. However, one word in the pair is usually not a real word. Let’s take groan and grone as examples.

 

Common Examples of Homophonesman listening to music

Did you know that there are 7700 homophones in the English vocabulary? Do you want to challenge yourself? Here are a few questions to warm up your brain cells. We’ll provide the answers, but kindly take some time to think before scrolling below!

  1. What is the homophone of break?
  2. What is the homophone of loan?
  3. How about the homophone of course?

The correct answer for number 1 is brake – as in a car brake. These are homophones because they have the same sound but different meanings.

 

For number 2, the answer is “lone.” Loan refers to a thing, usually money that is borrowed and usually entails interest during payback time. Lone, on the other hand, means single, isolated, or lacking companions.

 

For course, the answer is coarse. A course is something you participate in – a university course, an English course – and coarse means “a rough, harsh texture.”

Below are the commonly-used homophones in the English language. To help you understand their meanings better, check out the sample sentences below.

  • air, heir
  • be, bee
  • bare, bear
  • cent, scent
  • dear, deer
  • hear, here
  • cell, sell
  • knight, night
  • hour, our
  • brake, break
  • male, mail
  • suite, sweet
  • piece, peace
  • tail, tale
  • steal, steel
  • stair, stare
  • shore, sure
  • poor, pour
  • way, weigh
  • pray, prey
  • son, sun

Now, let’s try to use these homophones in a sentence. Can you?

Find the homophones in each sentence.

  1. The king’s heir enjoys the fresh air on top of the mountains.
  2. My mother said I should be outside in the fresh air but I saw a bee and am scared.
  3. The bare forest wouldn’t allow us to hide from the angry bear.
  4. The vendor said the 50-cent cologne she has on sale had a long-lasting scent.
  5. Did you hear that the guests are already here?
  6. My dear father loves to go deer-hunting with his friends once a month.
  7. Jose, a prison guard, sells cupcakes to inmates. He delivers it to their respective cells every afternoon.
  8. The brave knight kicked his massive horse and disappeared into the night.
  9. Our Physics professor strictly reminded us to finish the experiment in an hour.
  10. I have to take my bicycle to the shop. I’m afraid the brake pedal would completely break anytime.

Can you challenge yourself and create sentences using the remaining homophones above? Once you’re done, we can talk more about homophones!

How to Remove Your Confusion When It Comes to Homophoneswhat are homophones

Let’s say you are a writer who confuses homophones. Misused homophones can easily ruin your composition as you might deliver a different context to your readers. If you’re having trouble distinguishing these tricky words, then perhaps below tips can help.

  1. Visualization

Picturing the difference between a pair of homophones is an excellent technique to erase your confusion. Take the words that often confuse you and visualize two distinct pictures in your mind. Let’s say, for instance, the homophones heel and heal.

Visualize the word heel. Get a shoe, look at the heel, and notice its shape and color. Observe if there are cracks or if the material is smooth. Take a few seconds to hold the image in your mind before you let it go. Then, picture the word heal. Visualize how a doctor performs surgery. Imagine the emotion that the doctor feels when the operation turned out to be successful.

When you let your mind draw imagery in conjunction with the pair of homophones, you are creating a space for those words in your memory. To make it easier, you can get a pen and paper and draw the images. Label each image with the correct homophone.

  1. Mnemonic Devices

Do you often get confused when it comes to using there and they’re? How about your and you’re? Well, most people fall into confusion because they are abstract words, meaning they are hard to visualize. For this type of homophones, experts recommend the use of mnemonic devices to help you distinguish the difference.

  1. Let’s use loose and lose as examples. 

The word loose means something is not securely attached. Remember, it has two o’s. Well, these two o’s would be easy to remember when you look at the holes of your belt, a thing that we usually use to secure loose pants in place. Now, let’s go to the word lost which has a single o. Where’s the other o? Think that you have lost it to a bet on Las Vegas!

  1. Use Your Word Processor’s Find Function

If you can’t help but mix homophones now and then, this tip might be a valuable one. Once you’re done writing, take advantage of your word processor’s find function. Let’s say you are guilty of misusing the word to and too. Before submitting or publishing your content, find the word “to” in your file, and double-check if you have used it appropriately. Do the same with the homophone.

  1. Check context.

If you know what part of speech is the given word, then you would lessen the possibility of misusing it. According to English experts, context is key. Identify the words that often put you in trouble, and learn their definition, part of speech, and context.

Let’s use meat and meet as examples. Meat is a noun while meet is a verb or an action word. When you accidentally wrote the sentence, “Mother will cook meet tonight,” you’ll easily spot the mistake. Why? It’s because you know that meet is an action word and it is impossible to cook it.

Most people think that homophones are additional burdens to their journey of learning the English language. However, with the right tips, these words can be pretty cool. We hope this article about homophones can make learning more fun and more exciting for you!

 

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