Homophones

If you are learning English, you will probably have noticed that English is a language full of confusing words. Words that sound the same, but have a completely different meaning. Like ATE (as in I ate a sandwich) and EIGHT (the number between seven and nine). These words are called Homophones.

What is a homophone?

The roots of the word can be traced back to the Greek language. The root Homo means “same,” and the root phone means “sound.” That makes homophones two words that sound the same, but have different meanings. The words “two” and “to” are homophones, and so are sell and cell.

Homophones can be great fun and are often used in jokes and in crosswords. Once you have mastered the most basic homophones, you will feel a lot more confident about your use of the English language. You will find articles and videos on homophones on the internet, and there are books on homophones in the English language, such as “A Chocolate Moose for Dinner” and “How much can a Bare Bear Bear?”

Ten examples of homophones

Here, we will take a look at some of the most common homophones that are used in daily English language.

1. I, eye:

I (pronoun): A first person singular subject pronoun (I know what this word means).

eye (noun): The part of your body that you use to see (My eyes hurt when I read. I think I need a pair of glasses).

 2. for, four

for (preposition): Used to indicate a person who receives something, or to indicate a purpose (I want to buy you a present for your birthday).

four (noun): The number after three and before five (The table has four corners).

3. hear, here

hear (verb): This is what you do with your ears (I can’t hear the TV. Can you turn up       the volume?).

here (adverb): Here indicates the place or location where you are (Can you come           over here and talk to me?).

4. know, no

know (verb): To have knowledge or understanding about something (Do you know        what time it is?).

no (determiner): A negation or negative response (No, I don’t like pop music, it is too    loud).

5. son, sun

son (noun): A male child. (I have two sons and one daughter).

sun (noun): The star at the centre of our solar system. (I hope the sun shines      tomorrow when we go for our walk).

6. flour, flower

flour (noun): A substance made from ground grains, often used for baking goods           (what type of flour did you use for that cake?).

flower (noun): The decorative, colourful part of many plants (I want to get my mum a    bunch of flowers).

7. sew, so

sew (verb): Making something with a needle and thread (I would like to learn to sew     my own clothes).

so (adverb): To a certain extent ( She was speaking so fast that it was hard to      understand her).

8. due, dew

due (adjective): Used to indicate a deadline or event (The rent is due on the first day     of the month).

dew (noun): Water droplets formed by condensation (The dew on the grass was cold    against my bare feet).

9. bare, bear

bare (adjective): Meaning uncovered or undecorated (I like walking around in bare        feet, without shoes or socks).

bear (noun): A large mammal (I don’t like camping; I worry that there may be bears       or other large animals around).

10. buy, bye

buy (verb): Meaning to purchase, or pay for (I am going to buy a sandwich and a            drink).

bye (exclamation): This is a shortening of “goodbye” (Bye! See you tomorrow!)

 

We hope you have enjoyed this short introduction to homophones. English also has a lot of homographs (words that sound the same but have different spelling) and homonyms (words that sound the same but have different meanings) – more about them another time!

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