Top Confusing Homophones and How to Distinguish Them

English is a very rich in words language.  You may come across different synonyms, antonyms, homophones, homonyms, homographs and find their usage quite embarrassing.

SEE ALSO: Expand your Vocabulary: 8 Collocations with BREAK

Homophones are words with the same pronunciation but with different spellings and completely different meaning, e.g.  weak and week.  

That’s why not very skillful language learners may confuse what they hear or what they write and, therefore, get the wrong, sometimes really funny, meaning in the end:

He has a hare in his soup.  (where it was meant a hair), or
His tail was too long and boring.  (tale should be used here).

The best way to use homophones accurately and not to mislead yourself and others is to be sure of a part of speech a homophone belongs to and its specific position in a sentence, its spelling and context.  The following list of the most commonly used homophones might help you figure out the main differences:

1.  Hear and here

Hear is a verb and here locates place.  Here are examples:

  • I cannot hear you, speak louder, please.
  • You should not put your wet glass here.

2.  Peace and piece

Peace means no war and battles.  A piece is a part of something which is most often followed by ‘of’.  They are both nouns:

  • We all hope to have world peace.
  • Take the larger piece of cake.

3.  Ad and add

Ad is a noun and add is a verb meaning to put something to other thing:

  • I hate this TV ad, it is quite stupid.
  • Do you want me to add more sugar to your coffee?

4.  Aisle, I’ll and isle

Aisle and isle are nouns.  Aisle means a path, corridor.  Isle is similar to island.  I’ll is the shorter version of I will.

Examples:

  • This aisle leads to the director’s office.
  • I’ll call you back in five minutes.  
  • I love the trips to this isle, it is really beautiful.

5.  Bear and bare

Bear is a noun and a forest animal.  Bare is an adjective and means empty, uncovered or naked.

  • Look at the teeth of this bear, they are quite scary.
  • I walked on the beach with my bare feet.

6.  By, buy and bye

By is a preposition meaning near something.  Buy is a verb and it means that you pay for having some goods.  Bye is a farewell.

  • He was sitting by the window.
  • I like this blouse, I want to buy it.
  • Bye, guys, thank you for the invitation.

7.  Bight, bite and byte

Bight and byte are nouns and bite is a verb.

Examples:

  • There is a lot of fish in this bight.
  • Be careful, this dog might bite you.
  • The byte is a small data unit.

8.  Know/no

Know is a verb and no shows the lack of something.

Examples:

  • I know this guy, he is cute.
  • There is no information about the accident.

9.  There/their

There shows a place and their shows possession.

Examples:

  • He is over there.
  • This is their car.

10.  Lie/lye

Lie can be both a verb and a noun.  Lye is a noun and means a specific chemical substance.

  • I never lie/say a lie.
  • Most of the soaps contain lye.

11.  Meat/meet

Meat is a noun and meet is the verb for seeing someone.

Examples:

  • I cannot be a vegetarian, I like meat.
  • It is great to meet you again.  

12.  Pair/pare/pear

Pair is a couple of something and pear is a kind of fruit.  Pare is a verb.

Examples:

  • I need a new pair of shoes.
  • Pare this tomato, please.
  • Do you prefer an apple or a pear?

13.  Right/wright/write

Right is an adjective meaning correct and a noun that says somebody is allowed to do something; wright is a profession and write is a verb for composing a text:

  • You were right about him.  We have the right to do it.  
  • He worked as a wright during the construction if this building.
  • Write me an SMS when you get there.

14.  Threw/through

Threw is the past tense of throw.  Through is a preposition.  Here are examples:

  • She threw the ball.
  • The ghost went through the wall.

15.  Way/weigh

Way is a noun which means route or direction.  Weigh is a verb.  

Examples:

  • I do things my way.
  • She weighs 55 kilograms.

16.  Weather/whether

Weather is a noun.  Whether shows hesitance and uncertainty.  Here are examples:

  • The weather is terrible today.
  • She cannot decide whether to marry him.

17.  Wear/where

Wear is a verb

  • The clothes I wear are new.

Where asks for the correct position

  • Where is my notebook?

18.  Brake/break

Brake is a noun

  • I need someone to fix my car brakes.

Break is a verb

  • Be careful not to break my favorite vase.

19.  Cite/sight/site

Cite is a verb for repeating someone else’s words.  Sight is a noun and a synonym of view.  Site is a noun, a synonym of place.  

Examples:

  • Can I cite you?
  • What a beautiful sight!
  • I hate this site.

20.  For/fore/four

For indicates purpose.  Fore can be either a noun, adverb or adjective.  Four is the number 4.  :

  • This serves me for cleaning.
  • This is the fore part of the house.  
  • I want four peaches.

21.  Hole/whole

Hole is a noun

  • There is a large hole in the wall.

Whole indicates that you take or use all parts of something

  • Eat the whole cake.

22.  Hour/our

Hour is a noun.  Our shows possession.

Examples:

  • It takes me an hour to go to work.
  • This is our dog.

23.  To/two/too

To is a preposition meaning direction

  • This road leads to our town.

Two is the number 2

  • Take two sodas.

Too shows sameness

  • He is French, too.

24.  Then/than

Then shows a moment in time.  Than is used for comparisons.  

Examples:

  • Then, she decided to call him.  
  • She is taller than him.

25.  Wood/would

Wood is a noun and a material.  Would is often used in conditional verb forms.  Here are examples:

  • This table is made of wood.
  • If I were you, I would call her.

In order to avoid mistakes, just learn the most common homophones.  Also, get to know the full list of homophones in your spare time.  This will help you decide how to choose the right one among a few that sound in a similar way.

Rachel Bartee is an ESL teacher and a writer at EduGeeksClub dissertation help who finds her passion in sharing insightful tips to help others.  She is constantly looking for the ways to improve her skills and expertise.  Her life principle is “Always do more than you can”.

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