English is a complex language which has many little quirks that can make life difficult for English learners. If we discuss homophones, for instance, there are so many of them that it’s not even funny.
In my previous article, I talked about what homophones are, how to learn them and we also looked at a list of 7 sets of them.
If you’re not sure what they are, why not take the time to go to my previous post and read about them? Then you can come back and learn or review some more sets.
In order to try to cover some of the many homophones we encounter every day, I’m going to write a 2 part article where we’ll study 18 sets of homophones. At the end of each article, I will include a short practice exercise so that you can review what we’ve covered in the lesson.
Let’s now jump right in and begin to look at common homophones and see which ones you’re confusing.
1. feat vs. feet
We start off our list by looking at this set of words that sound exactly the same. If you look at them closely, you’ll realize that the spelling is quite similar and that in fact, there is only a one vowel difference between the two words.
We can say that a ‘feat‘ is an extraordinary accomplishment that needs a lot of knowledge and or strength. ‘Feet‘ is the plural form of the noun foot and it refers to our lower extremities.
- He accomplished an incredible feat when we managed to get the Arabs and the Israelis to talk to each other and discuss a cease-fire.
- My feet are killing me because these shoes are a size too small.
2. beat vs. beet
Here once again the two words in our set differ in spelling by only one vowel. The word ‘beat‘ means to win over someone. The noun ‘beet‘ is referring to a red root vegetable.
- Tony and I are racing today and I have to beat him.
- Beets are one of the main ingredients in some vegetable soups.
3. rain vs. reign
Here we have a set of words where one is a noun and the other a verb. ‘Rain‘ is a noun and it refers to precipitation. ‘Reign‘ is a verb and it’s the period of time that a king or queen occupies the throne.
- When is the weather going to change? I can’t stand one more day of rain.
- Queen Victoria reigned for just over 63 years. (reign conjugated in the simple past.)
4. male vs. mail
A ‘male‘ is a human boy or man. ‘Mail‘ is any package or letter that comes through the postal service.
- Peter lives in his house with his wife and three daughters; He’s the only male in the house.
- The mail just arrived and there is a letter for you from your friend Amy.
5. flower vs. flour
In this set of homophones, we’ll be looking at two nouns. A ‘flower‘ is the part of a plant that is usually colourful and has a nice fragrance. ‘Flour‘, however, is an ingredient that we use in backing. It’s white and powdery and usually made from wheat.
- Roses are very beautiful flowers but I prefer carnations.
- I have to buy a lot of flour because I love baking.
6. plain vs. plane
‘Plain‘ can refer to someone who is neither ugly nor beautiful. This noun is also used to refer to something that is not flashy or too decorated. ‘Plane‘ is the shorter form used when talking about an aircraft or airplane.
- Mary is a very plain looking girl.
- That dress is too plain to be used at a wedding.
- I was very nervous when I travelled to Korea since it was the first time I had been on a plane.
7. some vs. sum
‘Some‘ can refer to an unknown number of persons or things. A ‘Sum‘ can be the total resulting from adding two or more numbers together. It can also mean to bring a series of thought together into a conclusive sentence. The word sum can be a verb or a noun depending on how it is used in a sentence.
- I can’t understand why some people just enjoy hurting others.
- The bank robbers stole a large sum of money.
8. for vs. four
The first word of our set is ‘for‘ which is a preposition. The second word is the number ‘four‘ (4).
- If you don’t hurry you’re going to be late for school.
- Amy and Michael are the proud owners of four dogs.
9. naval vs. navel
As homophones, these two words have the same pronunciation and as you can see their spelling is very similar. However, their meanings are totally different.
‘Naval‘ is anything related to ships and the navy.
Before a person’s birth, the fetus receives nutrients through the umbilical cord. After birth, the cord is cut and eventually, that area leaves a mark on a person’s abdomen, that is the ‘navel‘.
- His father was so proud when he decided to enter the naval academy.
- Your navel is the small mark on your abdomen just beneath the waist line.
Fill in the blank with the correct word from the homophone list above.
- Lifting that car was an incredible _________ of strength.
- The entire ______fleet was at the harbour.
- If I don’t hurry I’ll be late ________ work.
- She always looks so _______. She should wear more make-up
- Roses are beautiful ________.
- Queen Elizabeth has had a long _________.
- He is a nice looking, very sexy ________.
- I’m making soup, did you buy the _______.
- Can you hand me _______ oranges, please?
- The ______ just arrived and I got a letter from Patrick.
- I’m training for the race; I have to_______ Michael no matter what.
- It’s ___________ cats and dogs; I hope it stops soon.
- Erick is a _________ commander.
- Where did Mary get such a large _______ of money?
- I walked so much today that my _______ are killing me.
So, that brings us to the end of this post. Join me for part 2 of Common Homophones- See which ones you’re Confusing where we’ll look at 9 more sets.
If you have any questions on any of the homophones listed here or if you would like to comment on the topic please leave your thoughts in the comment box below.
Thank you for reading.
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1. feat 2. naval 3. for 4. plain 5. flowers 6. reign 7. male 8. beets 9. some/four 10. mail 11. beat 12. raining 13. naval 14. sum 15. feet