Similar sounding words: Everything about Homophones, Homonyms, and Homographs

Have you ever been listening to someone speak English and say something like ” I knew I bought a new car, but our car insurance states differently, I have to call them back in an hour.”? Yeah, that can be confusing if you’re not a native English speaker. English words that sound the same are called homonyms.

Now, if that’s so, then what is a homophone? What’s the difference between a homophone and a homonym? What about a homograph? Well, stay tuned and we will go over it all in this post.

Homophones in English

So, I bet by now you’re wondering “what is a homophone?” “What are some homophone examples?’ Don’t worry, I’m here to clear that up for you. To start, the word homophone comes from the Greek word ‘homos,’ which means ‘same,’ and ‘phone,’ which means ‘voice.’ Now, a homophone is, by definition, “a word that is pronounced the same as another word, but differs in meaning.” So, in short, homophones sound the same, but differ in spelling, such as one and won. Confusing, right? No one ever said learning English was easy. Well, no one in their right mind that is.
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List and examples of homophones in sentences

Now that you know homophone’s meaning, let me give you a list of homophones, their meanings, and some example sentences.

  1. ad, meaning advertisement vs. add, meaning to increase
    • The creators of the ad wanted to add a new ending, but the producers wouldn’t allow it.
  2. ate, the past tense of eat vs. eight the number, 8
    • The last time I ate was at eight o’clock last night; I’m starving.
  3. hour, meaning time vs. our, something that is belonging to you and someone else
    • We only have 1 hour before our flight leaves.
  4. cell, a small room where a prisoner is kept vs. sell, to hand over something and receive money for it
    • The woman, who was charged for the illegal sell of narcotics, was placed in a temporary holding cell at the state prison.
  5. its, meaning belonging to or associated with something vs. it’s, which is the contraction of ” it is”
    • It’s going to rain today, which means my car is going to get its natural car wash.
  6. know, meaning knowing something vs. no, which is the opposite of yes
    • I know I’ve asked this before, but please don’t tell me no this time. May I have a pay raise?
  7. theirs, meaning it’s belonging to or associated with people vs. there’s, the contraction of there is
    • There’s people parking on the side-walk now because the neighborhood discontinued reserved parking, and so now, the tenants do not have parking spots that are theirs anymore.
  8. blew, the past tense of blow vs. blue, the color
    • In art class today, we played with blow pens. I blew the pen onto the paper, and created a beautiful blue flower.
  9. buy, meaning to purchase vs. by, an adverb vs. bye, which means farewell
    • I went to buy a new IPad from that store by town square, but my card’s chip was malfunctioning. I told the cashier to hold my transaction, we said bye, and I was forced to go back to buy it the next day.
  10. meat, food that comes from an animal vs. meet, which means to get together with someone
    • I forgot Allison was a vegetarian, and doesn’t eat meat. So, I suppose me asking her to meet me for Korean BBQ was a bad idea.
  11. to, regarding direction or motion vs. too, which means as well or in addition vs. two, the number, 2
    • I went to the doctor last week. My appointment was for two o’clock, but I also had to pick up my son from school at three o’clock, too. I didn’t want to be rude, but I asked the doctor to hurry as much as possible.
  12. who’s, a contraction of who is or who has vs. whose, meaning belonging to or associated with someone
    • Who’s going to pick up Sabrina from the airport? I forgot whose turn it was this time.
  13. your, meaning belonging to or associated with a certain person vs, you’re, the contraction of you are
    • Your bag was left on the table, but clearly, you’re aware of that, right?
  14. there, meaning here or nearby vs. their, meaning belonging to some people vs. they’re, a contraction of they are
    • There was a fire in the building, and the people had to grab their belongings and rush out. Thankfully, they’re all un-harmed.
  15. hear, meaning to listen to something vs. here, which means in, at, or to this place or position
    • I came here to hike and enjoy some peace and quiet, but all I hear is the construction of the new trail that’s being paved.

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Homonyms in English

Let’s break it down again. This word is also of Greek origin, the word ‘homo’ meaning ‘same’ and ‘nym’ meaning name. Homonyms are words that sound the same, but have different meanings. Now, you may be thinking, well, isn’t that a homophone? Yes, homophones are homonyms, and so are homographs, which we will talk about in a bit. So, what’s the difference between homonyms and homophones? Now, if you had to guess, what would you guess a homonyms’ definition is? Homonyms are words that can be spelled the same, or differently, and sound the same. Homophones and homographs are, simply, just types of homonyms.

List and examples of homonyms in a sentence

Let’s go a bit further here and look at some homonyms, their meanings, and some examples of them being used in a sentence.

  1. air, the type in which we breath vs. heir, a person that is legally entitled to something
    • After discovering that she is now heir to the throw, the princess had to step outside for some fresh air.
  2. maid, someone who is typically employed to clean your house vs. made, the past tense of make
    • Have you ever considered becoming a maid? I made $5,000 last month.
  3. bear, the animal vs. bare, which means having no clothes
    • The man was forced to fight off the grizzly bear with his bare hands.
  4. site, meaning a location vs. sight, meaning vision, vs. cite, which means to quote
    • The author started to cite Shakespeare, then, he changed course, and began to explain a site where he claims to have seen the most beautiful sight he’s ever seen: the pyramids of Giza.
  5. pike, a type of fish vs. pike, a type of weapon
    • The Vikings used to use homemade pikes to catch and cook the pike.
  6. lead, a type of metal vs. lead, which is the initiative in an action for others to follow.
    • Here, follow my lead. Take this lead hammer for protection.
  7. tear, a water drop from the eye vs tear, which means to rip
    • I couldn’t help but tear up while watching the movie. That women didn’t have to tear his family apart like that; she’s evil!
  8. lie, to tell an untruth vs. lie, as in to lie down
    • After my mom found out I told a lie, I was punished by being sent to my room to lie down.
  9. place, as in a location vs plaice, a type of fish
    • My dad owns a boat, so I will ask him if he knows a place to catch some plaice.
  10. pear, a type of fruit vs. pair, which is a couple
    • I didn’t know pears were sold in pairs now? I always buy them by the pound.
  11. see, as in vision vs. sea, as in the ocean
    • Did you see those sharks in the sea this morning? That’s so scary! I was swimming there last night.
  12. flies, meaning to fly vs. flies, as in the insects
    • I love watching my son’s baseball games, but I hope time flies today because all these flies out here are really bothering me.
  13. soul, as in the essence of a person vs. sole, an adjective meaning the one and only
    • You are the sole person that can make this happen. Feel it in your soul, go out there, and do what you do best!
  14. course, as in a route or direction vs. coarse, meaning rough in texture
    • The course, that the GPS routed me, led me to some coarse corn fields.
  15. bat, as in the nocturnal animal vs. bat, as in the baseball, or cricket, accessory
    • I was not expecting to find a bat in my attic, so I grabbed my baseball bat and shewed it away.

Homographs

Well, now that we have established that a homographs vs homonyms and homophones vs homonyms, I bet you’re wondering what the difference is between a homograph and a homophone. To help you with that, here in a little bit, I will give a list of some common homonyms that are also homographs. However, in the mean time, what is a homograph? What does homograph mean if it’s also a homonym? Here is it: homographs are words that are spelled the same, but have different meanings .So yes, if you go back through that list of homonyms, I’m sure you can now spot the homographs vs. the homophones, and I’m sure you can now make the connection that all words that sound the same are homonyms, but not all English words that sound the same are homographs or homophones. Knowing the difference makes establishing homographs from homophones a lot easier now, doesn’t it?

Typical homographs to remember, and how to use them in a sentence

  1. Close
    • Close can mean shut, as in “Did you shut and lock the car door?”
    • Close also means near, as in ” I would like to buy a house that is close to the supermarket.”
  2. Minute
    • Minute can mean tiny, as in “There were minute traces of alcohol in her system.”
    • Minute is also a unit of time, as in “We have five minutes before school ends.”
  3. Bow
    • A bow is a type of knot, as in “The presents were tied with a red bow.”
    • To bow also means to bend the top half of your body forward, as in “Most Asian countries show their respect with a bow.
  4. Left
    • Left is a direction, as in “Please turn left at the stop sign.”
    • Left is also the past tense of leave, as in ” She left her babysitter $20 for food, and went out for the night.”
  5. Fan
    • A fan is an admirer, as in ” I’m not a fan of horror films.”
    • A fan is also a cooling device, as in ” Please turn on the fan, it is really hot in this room.”

How to memorize the difference?

I’m hoping that, if you have made it this far, you will now have a better understanding of what a homonym, homograph, and homophone are. However, just in case you need a little re-cap, or just an easy way to remember, I’ve come up with something that should help.

Homograph– Remember learning about graphs in math class? Think of how every graph looks the same, but they can host completely different content. Well, that’s just like a homograph. The words are spelled the same, so they look the same, but have completely different meanings.

Homophone– Think of a phone, as in you’re calling someone. You have to ask them a question. What’s the question you ask? You ask them if they’re coming to our house in an hour. Boom, that’s a homophone. Two words that sound the same, but are spelled differently.

Homonyms are much easier to decipher now that you know a little bit more about them, right? English is known for being one of the hardest languages in the world, and I do believe that a big reason behind that is because our language is full of homonyms. It can be extremely confusing at times, but just know that the more you study, the better you will become, and the easier learning English will get.

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Ubah hassan
Ubah hassan
1 year ago

I would like to utilize this opportunity so how can I get to join master English tips?

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