- Do you no wear my sun is?
- Eye think his hear.
- Oh, know. His their.
Does the above dialogue make sense to you? If not, read it aloud.
When pronounced, the words will sound exactly the same as in this dialogue:
- Do you know where my son is?
- I think he’s here.
- Oh, no. He’s there.
’No’ is pronounced just like ’know’, ’wear’ is just like ’where’, and so on.
Words like these – that are pronounced the same, but differ in meaning – are called homophones.
You might not pay too much attention to them while speaking, however, when it comes to writing, you may end up making some funny mistakes if you mix up two homophones that are spelled differently.
- Thank you for the fantastic dinner. It was lovely to meat your wife.
Can you spot the mistake? I hope you won’t make it the next time you want to send a thank you card.
In the following lesson, you’ll find sentences and pictures (thanks to Pablo Stanley and Kaplan International. You can check the original images here and here and also discover how you can study English abroad) to help you remember how to spell some of the most common homophones.
oxygen and other gases that we breathe in
- It’s spring. Love is in the air and the birds are singing.
the person who is next in line in a family and inherits something
- When the new royal heir is born, hundreds of balloons are sent up in the air to celebrate the event.
a passageway between seats in rows
- Would you like a window or an aisle seat?
- An aisle seat, please. I wouldn’t like to sit next to the window, I’m afraid of heights.
a small island
- They’re planning to build an airport on the isle. I think it’s a fantastic idea.
someone who has no hair on his head is bald
- Will you love me if I go bald?
- Don’t worry. Look at how handsome Bruce Willis is. And he is bald.
past form of ’bawl’, it means ’cry loudly’
- When I realized I was going bald, I bawled liked a child. I don’t want to look like Captain Picard from Star Trek.
- You shouldn’t have bawled so hard. Captain Picard is really cool.
a group of people
- I’d like to form a rock band. Can you play any musical instruments?
(ban-banned-banned) to prohibit, not allow
- I’d love to be in a rock band, but I thought you were banned from playing loud music in the house.
naked, not covered
- Susy was wearing a daring dress at the party. It revealed her bare legs.
a big animal with dark brown coat that lives in woods and eats smaller animals and fruit
- I took my son to the zoo to see the new baby bear. He loved it. I think I’ll get him a Teddy bear for his next birthday.
- I’d like to be famous one day.
a flying, stinging insect that makes honey
- I wonder what it’s like to be a bee. Bees seem to be working all day.
smash something by dropping, bending or damaging it somehow
- You’ll break something if you keep playing football in the living room. Can you stop it, please?
a device to make a car go slower/stop
- I’ll have to get my brakes checked. I think there’s something wrong with them.
- Is the garage open on Sunday? I don’t want you to crash the car.
not interested in your current activity
- I’m bored with you. Are homophones the only thing you can talk about?
a flat piece of wood on which you can write, play a game or do sports like surfing, skateboarding etc.
- Whenever the teacher goes to the whiteboard and writes something on it, the students start chatting.
getting something for money
- I’d like to buy a piano, but my husband doesn’t really like the idea.
- Do you go to work by car?
- No, I can’t drive. I always go by train.
a room in a prison/ the smallest part of an organism
- How many cells are there in a human body?
giving something to somebody in return for money
- I’ve decided to sell my house and move to Australia.
1/100th of a dollar
- They don’t deserve a cent after what they have done to you.
smell, odour, fragrance
- Could you feel the scent of jasmine in the garden? It was so lovely.
a sharp, curvy structure at the end of the paws of animals
- I’m not sure if I should trim my cat’s rear claws. Do you know anything about cats?
a section of a legal document
- Don’t sign that contract before you read and understand every word and clause!
- Are you happy in your current job?
- Yes, I am. My current employer is much nicer than the previous one.
small, black or red berry that grows on bushes
- Would you like some ice-cream with your blackcurrants?
- I’d love some, thanks. Ice-cream and currants are my idea of heaven.
loved and valued
- You are my dearest friend, you know.
- Am I? You’re dear to me as well.
an animal with hooves and antlers that lives in the woods
- I had venison steak for lunch.
- What’s venison?
- Oh dear, you don’t know? It’s deer meat.
- My dog’s very old. I’m afraid he’ll die soon.
to colour materials or hair
- I’m thinking of dying my hair. Should I dye it blue or pink?
- I think your parents will just die if you show up with pink hair.
- Right, I’ll dye it blue then.
honest/ consistent with rules/ light in colour, clear
- Mum, that’s not fair! I did the washing up yesterday. It’s Jack’s turn today.
money you pay for transportation
- I can’t visit my parents very often. The train fare is too expensive.
run away from danger
- If I was a bit younger, I’d flee this boring town and move to the capital.
a small insect that lives in the fur of animals
- Do you think fleas go into human hair?
- Well, a flea may jump on it if you’re around animals, but I don’t think it would like it there.
white powder-like foodstuff that’s obtained by grinding grains
- Can you buy some flour on your way home? I’d like to make pizza for dinner.
- Of course I will. I would do anything to have pizza for dinner.
the most beautiful part of plants that blossoms and smells nice
- You should make your wife breakfast in bed a few times every month. And don’t forget to lay a single flower on the tray before you serve it.
a big, brown bear that lives in North America
- Would you like to come trekking with us? We’re going to the Rockies.
- You must be joking. What will you do if you bump into a grizzly?
unpleasant and frightening
- Did you see those black and white photos in her living room?
- Yeah, they’re rather grisly, aren’t they? Especially the one with the zombies.
a member of a small group of irregular soldiers
- Guerrilla warfare has had a big impact on the area. It’s not a safe place to go on holiday anymore.
the largest and strongest ape
- Have you seen the film ’King Kong’? It’s about a giant gorilla that is taken to New York to be exhibited.
what grows on your head
- Her hair used to be much shorter. Do you think she’s got hair extensions?
an animal that’s similar to a rabbit, but has longer ears and legs
- Rabbits live underground, but hares live in overground nests.
- Can I get a pet hare?
become or make healthy again
- How long will this wound take to heal?
the part of a foot that’s under the ankle
- I hurt my left heel while playing football. I hope it will heal soon.
a brave woman, usually the principal character of a book or a film
- My favourite heroine is Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books.
a white, highly addictive narcotic
- I stopped reading that book when the heroine turned out to be a heroin addict. I don’t like stories about drug addicts. They’re so sad.
sacred, dedicated to God
- The Christian holy book is called the Bible.
- The dress she was wearing to church was wholly inappropriate.
the bone in the body which is between the shoulder and the elbow
- Humerus fractures usually heal without surgery, but you may have to wear a shoulder sling for a couple of weeks.
- I write humorous stories for children in my free time, but my daughter doesn’t seem to like them at all.
a false god, someone or something people love and adore
- Aretha Franklin is my idol. She’s such a fantastic singer.
not busy, lazy
- Peter’s such an idle child. He never does his homework and doesn’t pay attention in class at all.
- I love living in this town. I can spend hours just watching the people go by.
a small hotel that provides food and accommodation
- We usually stay in this inn when we are visiting my parents. It’s the best inn in town.
when you tie two pieces of string or rope together a knot is formed
- My son can tie his shoelaces by himself now. He tied his first ever knot last week.
a word you use to make negative forms
- I do not remember when my daughter learnt how to tie a knot. She was not as young as your son.
past form of ’make’
- I made a cake for my husband’s birthday.
a woman you pay to do housework for you
- I think I’ll hire a maid. I can’t do everything myself, can I?
the part of the day after sunrise
- I feel really unsocial in the morning until I have my first coffee. It’s not the best time to talk to me about important things.
the sad emotion you feel after somebody you love dies
- In my country, women wear black clothes during the mourning period.
fiber-like, flexible organ that moves the bones and different parts of the body
- Arnold Schwarzenegger is really muscular. Have you seen his muscles? They’re huge like mountains.
edible, marine animals with soft bodies inside black or green shells
- I saw Arnold Schwarzenegger in a restaurant last night. He was eating mussels with bare hands.
- Oh, I hate mussels.
the time between sunset and sunrise
- Where were you last night? I waited up for you until 2am. You shouldn’t be out so late at night.
- Mum, I was in bed all night. Why didn’t you knock on my door?
a medieval soldier, a gentleman
- Why don’t you go out with Jack? You can’t wait for a knight in shining armor forever.
- I’m not waiting for a knight, but I definitely need someone more reliable than Jack.
not any, no one
- None of the students wanted to go to the museum, so we ended up feeding the pigeons on the square.
a woman who belongs to a religious order and lives in a monastery
- Why did Mother Teresa become a nun?
- She just liked helping people, I guess.
belonging to us
- Our house is the nicest in the street.
- It takes an hour to get to our house from here.
two similar things together
- I need a new pair of shoes. Will you come with me to help me choose?
juicy fruit, similar to an apple in size
- Would you like to stay for tea? I’m making pear tarts.
- I’ve never tried pear tarts. Are they as good as apple tarts?
the capacity of being tolerant and able to wait without getting angry
- You’d better stop kicking your sister. I’m losing my patience and you don’t want to find out what happens when I’ve lost it.
people who receive medical advice and care
- I’ve got so many patients to visit today. I’m not sure if I’ll have the patience to listen to all of them.
- But Dr Brown, there are only two more patients left.
stop something temporarily
- Let’s pause the film. I want to go to the kitchen to get more popcorn.
the feet of animals like cats or dogs
- My cat puts her paws gently on my face every morning to wake me up. It’s lovely, but she never seems to notice how early it is.
a part of something
- Here, have a piece of apple pie. I made it myself.
the state of tranquillity and no war
- I wish there was peace on Earth.
simple, clear, unmixed
- I like all kinds of chocolate. Chocolate with nuts, chocolate with fruit, chocolate with cream filling or just plain chocolate.
- I’m not afraid of flying, but I really don’t like sitting in a plane for hours. It’s so boring.
someone who doesn’t have enough money/ someone you feel sorry for
- Poor Jackie! She didn’t pass the exam, even though she had studied a lot.
to make some liquid flow onto or into something
- You poor thing! You must be freezing, it’s so cold outside. Come in, let me pour you some nice, hot tea.
someone who teaches the words of God and makes predictions about the future
- Do you think there are any modern day prophets? Do we still need prophets?
the money businesses have left after paying all the expenses
- A lot of companies are more interested in profits than the safety of their workers.
to move smoothly through water or air
- I’d like to sail through the Mediterranean. Do you want to come with me?
selling goods or services
- Ted’s house is for sale. I wonder where he’s going to move once it’s sold.
past tense of ’see’
- I saw Glenn at the post office yesterday, but she didn’t see me.
a thin metal tool that is used for cutting wood
- Have you seen my saw? I’d like to make a house for the dog.
a story published or performed in parts
- I like that website. I can watch my favourite TV serials there online.
breakfast food made from grains, eaten with milk
- What’s your favourite breakfast cereal?
to a certain extent
- I’m so happy, I could kiss you. Thanks a lot for the lovely present.
make or repair clothes using a needle and thread
- I love designing clothes, but I can’t sew.
- Why don’t you learn how to sew? I’d be so glad to wear the clothes you make.
the spirit of a person
- Do you like my painting? I put my heart and soul in it.
- Well, I can see some paint there on a canvas, but I can’t see your heart and soul anywhere.
a type of fish native to Europe, valued as food – ALSO –
the under surface of a person’s foot
- I’d like to make something light for dinner. Have you got any sole recipes?
- The soles of their feet were nearly black with dirt.
the part of the human body that’s between the upper body and the lower body
- She got extremely upset when I told her. She was just standing there with her hands on her waist and didn’t say a word.
when you spend money or time on something you don’t really need, it’s a waste
- Let’s not waste more time on this subject. We’ve said everything that can be be said.
to spend time and stay somewhere until something happens
- Will you wait here until I get back? I won’t be long.
the weight of something shows how heavy it is
- Do you think I should lose some weight?
- No, I don’t. I actually think you need to put on some weight- you’re too thin.
alcoholic drink made of grapes
- A glass of red wine before bed is good for your heart.
complain like a child
- Don’t whine! I won’t give you more wine unless you stop whining.
to form letters, words and sentences using pen and paper or a computer
- How old were you when you learnt to write?
- I was three years old.Three?
- That’s right. I was only three when I learnt to write.
And don’t forget, you can always use spell/grammar checkers to instantly proofread your writing.
I hope you’ve found this lesson interesting and you’re not board. Umm, I mean bored.
Remember, these are mistakes that spell checkers won’t recognize, so pay extra attention to homophones when writing. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment area below. We are hear two help. I mean, we are here to help.