We all know that English is full of confusing words, vocabulary, spellings, and usage. One of the items in English that makes it so confusing is called a <homophone>.
Homophone = words that sound the same but are spelled differently and mean different things
You may confuse homophones when someone is speaking to you or when you’re watching TV. Homophones are confusing when you’re listening to English since the words sound the same. If you’re reading English, you may not notice that the words are homophones, since the spelling is different.
If you have a hard time remembering what a homophone is, split up the word: <homo> + <phone>. These Latin roots mean “the same” and “sound”. This can help you remember that homophone means the same sound.
Learning homophones will help you learn some of the most confusing words in English and take one more step in speaking English fluently. Let’s look at some of the most common homophones.
Blue / Blew
- Blue = the color blue
- Example: Would you like to paint the room the color blue or red?
- Blew = the past tense of the verb “to blow”, which means to force air out of your mouth
- Example: She blew the candles out on top of her birthday cake.
Which / Witch
- Which = connecting word that indicates a choice between two things or connects two phrases
- Example: Which flavor of ice cream do you want?
- Example: I like chocolate ice cream, which is also your favorite flavor of ice cream.
- Witch = a person that practices magic
- Example: My sister likes to dress up as a witch for Halloween.
Than / Then
- Than = a word to compare two things
- Example: “Do you like chocolate ice cream more than vanilla ice cream?
- Then = a word used to indicate the time frame
- Example: Do the dishes and then you can watch TV.
Here / Hear
- Here = indicate close proximity to you
- Example: Can you come here for a minute?
- Hear = the verb to use your ears to perceive sound
- Example: We hear the music at the concert very well, since we’re at the front.
Buy / By
- Buy = to purchase something
- Example: My cousin buys jam every Saturday.
- By = a preposition to indicate location to something else
- Example: The towel is by the sink.
There / Their / They’re
- There = to show existence
- Example: There is no time to go shopping today.
- Their = to show possession for more than one person, from a 3rd person perspective
- Example: Their clothes are more expensive than ours.
- They’re = a contraction for the words “they are”, which is 3rd person plural for the verb “to be”
- Example: They’re running away!
To / Two / Too
- To = preposition, an infinitive starter
- Example: Can you pass the cup to me?
- Example: I like to eat ice cream.
- Two = the count of the number 2, between the numbers one and three
- Example: Put two strawberries on top of my ice cream.
- Too = more than normal, or used to indicate that you did something in addition to someone else
- Example: I want ice cream, too!
It’s / Its
- It’s = the contraction for the words “it is”, the 1st singular version of the verb “to be”
- Example: It’s so delicious.
- Its = to show possession for gender neutral, 1st person, singular
- Example: Its not very happy.
Are / Our
- Are = from the verb “to be”, used for 1st and 3rd person plural
- Example: We are ready to eat ice cream.
- Example: They are ready to carve pumpkins.
- Our = possessive pronoun for 1st person plural
- Example: Our ice cream is better than yours.
Weather / Whether
- Weather = the condition of temperature and moisture outside
- Example: What will the weather be like tomorrow?
- Whether = used to show comparison between two things or as a contraction
- Example: Whether you want to eat ice cream or not, we are going to eat ice cream.
Practice these common homophones so that you can recognize the meaning of each word when someone uses it in conversation. You can start with the Common Homophone Worksheet to practice with. Let me know your answers in the comments!