The World of Homophones – Part One

Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelt differently.  They also have different meanings.  When you are listening to a conversation is it normally clear what the speaker means by the topic of the conversation.  When you are reading, you can tell what the word means because of how the words are spelt.

 

MAIL VS MALE

The word mail is used when you are referring to a letter or package someone has or will receive in the post.  This word tends to be used more in American English.  In British English, the word ‘post’ is more commonly used.

‘The postman came to deliver my mail.’

‘There’s mail for you on your desk.’

The word ‘male’ refers to someone who is a boy or a man.

‘The male had three children.’

‘The male had brown eyes.’

Note: although it’s good to know what the word ‘male’ means.  It a word that you would normally see on a form or a word that is used for description.  It is not normally used when talking about someone.  In a conversation, the word ‘man’ or ‘boy’ would more likely be used.

 

HERE VS HEAR

Again, these words sound the same but have different meanings.

The word ‘here’ refers to a location.

‘Is the teacher here today?’

‘It took me a while to get here.’

The word ‘hear’ refers to one of the five senses.

‘I can hear the teacher’s footsteps.’

‘Simone could hear the concert from her room.’

 

Activity 1

Each sentence is missing a homophone.  Read the sentence and place a homophone, that has been used in this article, in each sentence.

  • Did you receive your … today?
  • The … had brown hair.
  • I could … the alarm from my room.
  • Can I find the tomatoes …?

 

BLEW VS BLUE

The word ‘blue’ refers to a colour.

‘Oliva wore the colour blue every day.’

The word ‘blew’ refers to when someone or something blows the air.

‘The mighty wind blew.’

Note: the word ‘blew’ is used in the past tense.

 

PEAR VS PAIR

Pears can be eaten because they are a fruit.

‘Adam loved eating pears.’

The word ‘pair’ refers to two of something.

‘Socks are always in pairs.’

The two homophones could be used together too.

‘I ate a pair of pears today.  ‘

This means the individual ate two pears.

 

RAP VS WRAP

Raps cannot be eaten.  It refers to a music genre.

‘My son can rap very well.’

‘Grace listens to rap music every evening.’

Wraps can be eaten.

‘Winston had a wrap with cheese, peppers and sweetcorn.’

‘I always eat a wrap for lunch.’

 

Activity 2

Look at the sentences below. Some of the homophones are in the correct places and some are not.  Write down whether the sentence is correct or incorrect.

  • The birthday boy blue out the candles on the cake.
  • The pair was very tasty.
  • The coffee shop always played rap music.

 

TO VS TOO VS TWO

These three words are often mixed up.

The word ‘to’ tends to be used as a preposition and it is also used when a letter, note or card is addressed to someone.

‘I went to the bank.’

‘Danny walked to the front of the room.’

The word ‘too’ tends to mean in addition.

‘I like blackcurrant pie.’

‘Me too.’

The word ‘two’ refers to an amount.

‘There were two criminals in prison.’

‘I ate two cookies today.’

 

All three words can be used together.

‘I bought two chocolate bars from the supermarket today.’

‘Actually, I went to the supermarket and bought two chocolate bars too.’

 

ONE VS WON

The word ‘one’ refers to an amount.

‘There was one passenger on the train.’

‘Isabella owned one car.’

The word ‘won’ refers a competition or game where one individual or group can win.

‘Emily won the race today.’

‘Ethan won the apple eating competition.’

As you have noticed, the word ‘won’ is used in the past tense.

 

FLEE/FLEA

The word ‘flee’ refers to when someone or something moves quickly away from a situation, someone or something.

‘The army sergeant told his troops to flee.’

The word ‘flea’ refers to an insect.

‘Noah’s dog had to be taken to the vets because it had fleas.’

 

FLOWER/FLOUR

The word ‘flower’ refers to a part of a plant.

‘Carter bought a bunch of flowers.’

The word ‘flour’ refers to an ingredient used to make food.

‘Daniel needed flour to bake a cake.’

 

Activity 3

The paragraph below contains some homophones.  See how many you can find.

Hailey put her flowers on the table.  She placed them next to the shopping bag.  Earlier, she bought two lemons, a bag of sugar and a pack of flour.  Hailey opened one pack of crisps and had a snack.  After a while, her phone beeped.  Hailey checked her phone.  She realised she had missed a call.

 

RECAP

There are many homophones in the English language.  If you read a lot of English texts, it will be easy to remember the meaning of a lot of homophones.  Try to start with the most common ones first, then move on to the more difficult homophones.  When you are listening to a conversation or watching an episode on the television, practise listening out for some of the homophones in this article.

 

Here are the answers to the activities in this article.

Activity 1

  • Did you receive your mail today?
  • The male had brown hair.
  • I could hear the alarm from my room.
  • Can I find the tomatoes here?

 

Activity 2

  • The birthday boy blue out the candles on the cake. (This is incorrect.) The correct way to write this sentence is: The birthday boy blew out the candles on the cake.
  • The pair was very tasty. (This is incorrect.)  The correct way to write this sentence is: The pear was very tasty.
  • The coffee shop always played rap music. (This is correct.)

 

Activity 3

There were five homophones from the article in the paragraph.

Hailey put her flowers on the table.  She placed them next to the shopping bag.  Earlier, she bought two lemons, a bag of sugar and a pack of flour.  Hailey opened one pack of crisps and had a snack.  After a while, her phone beeped.  Hailey checked her phone.  She realised she had missed a call.

 

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