For some people new to the English language who might never have encountered homophones, they can be perplexing and even a bit discouraging. Others may find them challenging and fun. No matter how you look at them, homophones are very common in English and it’s important to learn and understand them.
There are different ways to practice homophones such as exercises where the words have to be matched with the definitions or paragraphs with fill in the blank to test your knowledge.
In this article, we’re going to look at homophones. We’ll find out what they are, how to learn them, and we’ll look at groups of homophones and their meanings.
Once you’ve learned some of the more widely used homophones all you need to do is practice to help the knowledge sink in. So, let’s talk about homophones. Do you know what they are?
Homophones are sets of words that have the same pronunciation but different spellings and/or meanings (for example, flea and flee).
The word homophone is made up of two word-parts that come from the Greek language; Homes, meaning same and phone, meaning voice.
How to learn them
To learn homophones you should study lists with definitions and examples like the one I will be writing in this article. It’s very important to understand the meaning of each word so you know that if you don’t use the right one your sentence will mean something different than what you intended it to mean or it even might not make sense at all.
Once you study and understand homophones a good way to learn them is to practice by either doing exercises or by playing games designed for that purpose.
In a classroom, your teacher can give you exercises where paragraphs are written with missing words and you need to select the correct word.
Another exercise that can be either written on paper or used as a game on the board is to have the words on one side and the meanings scrambled on the other side. The student needs to match the word with the correct meaning.
Yet another game could be to divide the class into teams and then write the words on the board. The game starts when the teacher gives meanings and one person from each team runs up to the board and touches the word that goes with the meaning.
These are just a few ways to practice and test your knowledge of homophones.
Before we actually get to the list of homophones, I want to talk a bit about Homographs. These together with homophones can confuse students.
What Are the Differences Between Homophones and Homographs?
The word homograph comes from the Greek words homes meaning ‘ the same’ and graphs meaning ‘to write’.
What does this mean?
It means that they are groups of words that are spelled the same but have different meanings and sometimes also have different pronunciations.
Some examples of homographs are:
- bear (the animal) and bear(endure)
- pet (stroke – Pet the cat) and pet (a domestic animal – Your cat is your pet.)
- mean (intend to do something) and mean (someone who is not kind- Mean person.)
So, the main difference between homophones and homographs is that homophones sound the same while homographs spell the same but have different meanings.
It’s now time to have some fun learning or reviewing homophones.
1. Ad vs. Add
The first set of words is not only pronounced the same but the spelling is also very similar although of course, the meanings are completely different.
‘Ad‘ is actually an abbreviation of the word advertisement and it’s a noun. So, you see a product advertised in a newspaper, that’s an ‘ad‘. ‘Add‘ on the other hand means addition and it refers to the mathematical operation. ‘Add‘ is a verb.
- Did you see the ad in the newspaper for that new weight loss program?
- If you add eight and three, you get eleven.
2. Peace vs. Piece
The words in this second set have only a slight spelling difference.
‘Peace‘ refers to a time when there is no war or fighting of any kind; a time of calm and it’s a noun. ‘Piece‘ is also a noun and it refers to a small part or portion of something bigger. It can also be used as a verb in which case it means to join together. For example, to piece together a puzzle.
- People who have never lived through a war have no idea how lucky they are to live at a time of peace.
- Could you get me a piece of pie, please?
3. Berry vs. Bury
Once again we come across a set of homophones that have a very similar spelling.
A ‘berry‘ is a small juicy fruit and it’s a noun. ‘Bury‘ is actually a verb and it’s the act of covering something with earth.
- Mary is allergic to berries.
- The dog is going to bury the bone you gave him.
4. Meet vs. Meat
In this next set of words, we have once again a verb and a noun.
‘Meet‘ is a verb which means to be introduced to someone for the first time. It can also mean to join someone or come together with them at a particular place. ‘Meat‘ is the flesh of an animal usually consumed at meals.
- I have plans to meet my friend Jessy at the mall so we can go to the movies.
- Hello, Mr. Rogers. It’s so nice to meet you.
- Michael just loves red meat but hates chicken.
5. Flea vs. Flee
A ‘flea‘ is a small insect that feeds on blood. It can be found in animals as well as humans. This word is a noun. ‘Flee‘ on the other hand is a verb which means to escape.
- I need to put a flea collar on my dog.
- When the tsunami brought the waters into the city streets, the citizens fled for higher ground.(fled is the past tense of the verb to flee.)
6. Made vs. Maid
The first word of our set, ‘made‘ is the past tense of the verb ‘to make‘. A ‘maid‘ is a domestic.
- Karen made the most delicious cake I have ever had in my life.
- My maid is not very good at her job, she forgot to make my bed today.
7. Dear vs. Deer
The word ‘dear‘ is a noun and it’s a term of endearment. It’s something you call a loved one. This word can also be used as an adjective or adverb. ‘Deer‘ is a noun and it refers to a hoofed animal.
- Tom, this is my dear friend Sarah.
- Deers are very cute animals.
We have come to the end of our list of homophones. If you want to learn more about homophones join me for my next articles. In them, I will list and explain with examples the meanings and uses of 18 homophones. The articles will be called ‘Common Homophones- See which ones you’re confusing, parts 1 and 2.’
If you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to share drop me a line in the comment section below.
Thank you for reading.
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