by Melissa Donovan | Jul 16, 2020 | Homophones | 14 comments
Homophones, homonyms, and homographs.
They perplex us, confuse us, and make our heads spin. If you thought learning how to correctly spell words that sound alike was difficult, wait till you try to learn the terms for describing those words.
Homophones are words that are pronounced alike but have different meanings.
Some examples are accept and except, affect and effect, and triplets too and to and two, along with they’re and their and there.
Homophones may also refer to words that are spelled and pronounced the same but differ in meaning — for example lie (lie down) and lie (an untruth).
These words are a major source of frustration for many writers, students, and professionals who struggle to memorize variant spellings for words that sound alike but have different meanings. English teachers and other spelling perfectionists wince when homophones are written incorrectly.
Worst of all, spell check won’t catch the error when incorrect homophones are used because alternative spellings are legitimate.
To confuse matters further, there are other words called homonyms, which are spelled and pronounced alike but have different meanings. Examples include words like stalk, which could refer to the stem of a plant (a stalk of corn), or the act pursuing or approaching prey (the cat will stalk the mouse).
Another example of a homonym is lie — as in lie down or telling a lie.
That’s right, some homophones can also be classified as homonyms — if they’re spelled the same.
Confused yet? Wait. There’s more.
Homographs are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings. They may be pronounced the same or they can be pronounced differently from one another.
This means that some homographs are homophones and homonyms.
A good homograph example is record (a disc that plays audio) and record (to save or register something, usually in writing, audio, video, etc.).
How To Remember Homophones, Homonyms, and Homographs
You can remember the difference (what difference there is) between homophones, homonyms, and homographs by breaking each word down and recalling the meaning of its root suffix and prefix. Also, try remembering each term separately to start, and don’t worry about which homophones are homonyms and which homonyms are homographs.
The root homo means “the same.” For all of these words something is the same — the spelling or the pronunciation.
- Homophones sound alike. Homomeans “the same” andphone means “sound.” They sound the same. They may be spelled alike (or not) but they must sound alike.
- Homonyms are spelled alike. Homo means “the same” and nym means “name.” Homonym means “same name.” Like the words “same” and “name” they also sound alike.
- Homographs look alike (same spelling). Like graphs, they are visual. With the prefix homo, they look the same.
Easy enough? Sure it is!
Do you have your own tricks for remembering homophones, homonyms, and homographs? Do you find any of these words especially confusing? Share your tips, ideas, and questions in the comments.
MelodyJon September 12, 2012 at 6:15 am
When I was in elementary school we learned about synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms. But when my brother wen to elementary school in a different district he learned about he learn about homophones. No one in the house had ever heard of them before. Any insight into why school systems teach this differently?
Melissa Donovanon September 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm
I believe the curricula differ from district to district, which is certainly a shame.
Kelvin Kaoon September 13, 2012 at 2:06 am
I’ve heard of homophones before, but not the other two. I tend to just learn them separately. I don’t find homophones to be particularly confusing, since I think there are only so many sounds that we can make and it’s not a huge surprise for some words to have the same sound. As for homonyms and homographs, I tend to learn these words from different contexts as well. And I guess it’s a good thing that the parts of speech are often different so that it’s less confusing or ambiguous.
Melissa Donovanon September 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm
I personally find all these similar terms a little bit confusing. Homophones are the easiest to remember.
Reply(Video) Homographs, Homophones, Homonyms | English Grammar
Krithika Rangarajanon December 15, 2015 at 5:34 am
Thank you so much, Melissa!
I was familiar with homophones, but wasn’t familiar with the other two – thank you!
Melissa Donovanon December 28, 2015 at 11:29 am
Vivienneon July 31, 2020 at 5:56 am
I can’t understand why it’s become so difficult for people to get these spellings (and pronunciations) correct. When I was at school, many centuries ago, we practiced thes things over and over. We made up sentences with these words in. No one I know of my age gets to, too and two, nor their, there and they’re mixed up. Nor most of the others, either.
I would like to take you up on a couple of homophones you mention, that I don’t think are (or shouldn’t be) pronounced the same. They are accept and except, and affect and effect. ‘A’is not pronounced the same as ‘e’.
Melissa Donovanon July 31, 2020 at 2:03 pm(Video) Homonyms | Examples of 50 homonyms | English Vocabulary | Homophones | Homographs
Spelling doesn’t come easily to everyone. I have known some smart folks who struggle with spelling, and I’ve known some spelling-bee champions who struggle with basic math. It’s also possible that our education system could use some improvements in both areas.
Pronunciation is regional, and in my neck of the words, accept and except are pronounced the same. There’s a variance with affect in which “she has an odd affect” would be pronounced differently, but otherwise affect and effect are usually pronounced the same. This can vary depending on the flow of the sentence.
In some places, people pronounce wash with an r: warsh.
Pattyon July 31, 2020 at 6:40 am
I came upon this wonderfully written article via way of The Story Reading Ape and found it useful.
I learned of all these starting in the 6TH grade thanks to a very industrious English teacher.
I still confuse them mightily, and thanks to being blind, and now reading with so much audio via way of screen readers on the computer and Smartphone, and audiobooks rather than Braille I get things mixed up even more.
PS. It would be great if the links which lead to sharing options were labeled so that they read with the screen reader.
In order for me to share, I had to simply guess and click luckily the first one lead to FB.
Thanks again for a great article.
Melissa Donovanon July 31, 2020 at 2:07 pm
Hi Patty. I didn’t realize the share links weren’t labeled. These are actually generated by a plugin (similar to an app), so I’ll need to do some research and see if I can add labels or adjust the configuration. Thanks for letting me know about that, and thank you for sharing the article on Facebook.
Rosi Hollinbeckon July 31, 2020 at 8:42 pm
I had a professor in my teaching credential program who announced on the first day of class that if anyone in the class used the incorrect “there-their-they’re” in a paper, it would be an automatic fail. I decided then and there to teach homophones to my students. Incorrectly used homophones are a bit of a pet peeve of mine. Thanks for the post.(Video) The Homophone Song | Learn and Rap with MC Grammar
Melissa Donovanon August 8, 2020 at 12:46 pm
Failing people for a common misspelling is a bit extreme. Hopefully it was an empty threat. Typos do happen! But I’m glad you decided to teach homophones to your students.
Kinley Wangchukon October 6, 2020 at 7:44 pm
I differentiate between these three “homos”..
1. Homophone as having different spelling with same sound (air/heir)
2. Homonym as having same spelling and same sound (bark/bark)
3. Homograph as having same spelling but different sound or almost alike (desert/desert)…confusingly confused??? Me too…please correct me if I am on the wrong path..please
Melissa Donovanon October 10, 2020 at 2:30 pm
Hi Kinley. Thanks for asking for clarification.
1. Homophones sound the same but have different meanings. They can be spelled the same or differently. The word pairs to/two and lie/lie are homophones.
2. Homonyms have the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings. So lie/lie are homonyms but to/two are not.
3. Homographs are spelled the same but have different meanings. So lie/lie are homographs.
Hope that helps!
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What are examples of homophones homonyms and homographs? ›
The word homonyms is often used to refer to all such words in general. Some words, like bark, fall into more than one category—bark on a tree and bark of a dog are both homophones (sounding the same) and homographs (being spelled the same), for example.What are homonyms and homophones give two examples of each answer? ›
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Homophones are words that sound the same when you pronounce them, but the words have different spelling and different meaning. For example: flour and flower.What is an example of homonym? ›
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- Park - a public play area or to bring a vehicle to a stop and leave it temporarily.
- Bat - a type of sports equipment or an animal.
- Bass - a type of fish or a genre for music.
- Minute - small or a unit of time.
- Crane - a bird or a machine used at construction sites.
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- Altar/ Alter.
- Berth/ Birth.
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- Days/ Daze.
- Earn/ Urn.
25 Common English Homophones
- ate, eight. ...
- bare, bear. ...
- buy, by, bye. ...
- cell, sell. ...
- dew, do, due. ...
- eye, I. ...
- fairy, ferry. ...
- flour, flower.
What are the 50 examples of homophone? ›
- Aunt (noun) or Aren't (contraction) – ...
- Ate (verb) or Eight(noun) – ...
- Air (noun) or Heir (noun) – ...
- Board (noun) or Bored (adjective) – ...
- Buy (verb) or By (preposition) or Bye (exclamation) – ...
- Brake (noun, verb) or Break (noun, verb) – ...
- Cell (noun) or Sell (verb) –
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Homonyms are two or more words having the same spelling but different meanings and origins. Example: Present is a word that has the same spelling for two different meanings from two different origins.What are homonym related words? ›
These are words that sound the same but have different meanings. For example, the most common homophones taught in school are: there/their/they're and to/too/two. These sets of words have the same pronunciation but different meanings and uses. Other examples of homophones are: rows/rose, one/won, and build/billed.
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Homographs are words that sound the same and are spelled the same but have a different meaning. In this language arts worksheet, your child will fill in the missing homophones to complete pre-written sentences and then write sentences to convey each homograph's alternate meaning. WRITING | GRADE: 4th, 5th.What is the homographs of bear? ›
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- affect/effect. Use affect to indicate influence: The medicine did not affect her the way the doctor had hoped. ...
- than/then. Use than for comparisons: John is much taller than his brother. ...
- which/witch. ...
- here/hear. ...
- are/our. ...
- buy/by. ...
- accept/except. ...
cell/sell: If you sell drugs, you will get arrested and end up in a prison cell. cent/scent: I won't spend one cent on a bottle of perfume until I know that I love the scent. die/dye: If you accidentally drank a bottle of fabric dye, you might die. flour/flower: To bake a flower-shaped cake, you'll need some flour.What are homophones 6th grade? ›
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|Homonyms with the Same Spelling and/or Pronunciation|
|Homonym||Part of Speech||Sentence Example|
|Ring||Noun||My father bought me a diamond ring|
|Noun||I used a ring to make a dreamcatcher.|
|Verb||Manu will ring you in some time.|
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The prefix 'homo' means the same, and the suffix 'nym' means name. Therefore, homonyms are two words that look and/or sound exactly alike! One of the most common homonyms examples in English is the word 'bat'. 'Bat' can mean a piece of equipment you use in some sports, and it's also the name of an animal.What are the 300 examples of homophones? ›
- Check ———-Czech.
- Cache ———-Cash.
- Cops ———-Copse.
- Caddie ———- Caddy.
- Cheap ———-Cheep.
- Clique ———- Click.
- Cain ———- Cane.
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- Homographs have the same spelling but do not necessarily sound the same.
There are five main types of homophones – heterograph, heteronym, homograph, oronym, and synophone. Homophones are considered a subcategory of homonyms, which are words with different meanings that either sound the same or are spelled the same.