Homophones - Learn What They Are and How to Use Them with Examples

English has always been a language that interests its learners and users in many ways. It is also a language that is continuously evolving. Almost every day, a new word is added to the wide range of vocabulary. Homophones are one among the various interesting factors of the language. In this article, you will learn all that you need to know about homophones, their meaning, definition and how to use them along with examples of homophone pairs and their meanings.

Table of Contents

What is a Homophone? – Meaning and Definition

A homophone is a word that sounds similar to another word, but has different spellings and meanings. Understanding homophones can help you in building your vocabulary. Only if you learn the spellings and meanings of the homophones, will you be able to use them correctly.

Now, let us look at some of the definitions given by different dictionaries to understand what homophones are. According to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, a homophone is defined as “ a word that is pronounced like another word but has a different spelling or meaning.” The Cambridge Dictionary gives a similar definition. According to them, a homophone is “a word that is pronounced the same as another word but has a different meaning or spelling, or both.”

A homophone, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “one of two or more words pronounced alike but different in meaning or derivation or spelling.” The Collins Dictionary defines homophones as “words with different meanings which are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently.”

Usage of Homophones in Sentences – Points to Remember

Homophones, as already mentioned, have similar sounds but different spellings and meanings. So it is necessary that you understand and learn the difference between the homophone pairs. One way to remember them is by associating them with their functions and analysing which part of speech a particular word in the pair belongs to. However you choose to remember it, only continuous usage of these words in sentences will help you understand how they work.

Difference between Homophones, Homographs and Homonyms

Let us take a look at the differences between homophones, homographs and homonyms.

Homophones

Homographs

Homonyms

  • Words that have the same sounds but different meanings and spellings.
  • Words that have the same spelling but have different meanings and sometimes different pronunciations as well.
  • Words that have the same spellings or pronunciation but have different functions and meanings.
  • Examples:
    • Bear/Bare
    • See/Sea
    • Board/Bored
  • Examples:
    • Tear(noun)/Tear(verb)
    • Bear(noun)/Bear(Verb)
    • Bank(noun)/Bank(verb)
  • Examples:
    • Dye/Die
    • New/Knew
    • Fare/Fair

List of Homophone Pairs with Their Meanings – Examples

To help you analyse and understand homophones and their use, here is a table with the homophone pairs, their meanings and sentence examples to help you out.

Homophones

Part of Speech

Examples

  • Bear
  • Bare
  • Noun/Verb
  • Adjective
  • Have you seen a bear?
  • I am not able to bear the pain.
  • We don’t suggest you walk barefoot on the hike.
  • Break
  • Brake
  • Noun/Verb
  • Noun/Verb
  • I need a break.
  • Did you break the glass?
  • Please apply the brakes.
  • It is not good that you brake abruptly in the middle of the road.
  • Blew
  • Blue
  • Verb
  • Adjective
  • The wind blew swiftly.
  • I have a blue skirt.
  • Wine
  • Whine
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • Have you ever tasted wine?
  • Angela keeps whining about everything all the time.
  • Sole
  • Soul
  • Noun/Adjective
  • Noun
  • My shoes’ sole tore after the game.
  • His sole aim of appearing for competitive examinations was to get into a government job.
  • She hoped his soul would rest in peace.
  • Heir
  • Hair
  • Noun
  • Noun
  • Who is the next heir to the British throne?
  • She has really long hair.
  • Maze
  • Maize
  • Noun
  • Noun
  • This route is such a maze.
  • Maize is one among the chief agricultural crops.
  • Heal
  • Heel
  • Verb
  • Noun
  • Sitting near a water source heals my soul.
  • My heel is paining badly since we had been walking all day.
  • Ate
  • Eight
  • Verb
  • Adjective
  • They ate rice and curry for lunch.
  • We have eight rabbits at home.
  • Dear
  • Deer
  • Adjective
  • Noun
  • This is my dear brother.
  • We saw a deer on the way to the Nilgiris.
  • Jeans
  • Genes
  • Noun
  • Noun
  • Salviya bought a new pair of jeans.
  • You have my genes.
  • Serial
  • Cereal
  • Noun
  • Noun
  • Do you like to watch serials?
  • We have cereal for breakfast when we are in the hostel.
  • Brayed
  • Braid
  • Verb
  • Noun
  • The donkey brayed at the sight of his master.
  • Each one of them were admiring her braid.
  • Browse
  • Brows
  • Verb
  • Noun
  • It is easier nowadays to find content on any topic. All you have to do is just browse.
  • Your brows are really thick.
  • Days
  • Daze
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • I still remember the days we spent together.
  • Thomas dazed as the teacher raised questions about the sign up sheets.
  • Haul
  • Hall
  • Verb
  • Noun
  • The vehicles in the accident were hauled to the police station.
  • The hall for the reception was bigger than we had expected.
  • Sell
  • Cell
  • Verb
  • Noun
  • Do you know the man who sells ice cream?
  • He told me that he felt like every single cell in his body was in pain.
  • Board
  • Bored
  • Noun
  • Adjective
  • Children like it when you let them write on the board. They feel special.
  • Danny felt so bored that he started irritating his sister.
  • Bred
  • Bread
  • Adjective
  • Noun
  • All the pets in this store are domestically bred.
  • The bread my mom bought was stale.
  • Guilt
  • Gilt
  • Noun
  • Noun
  • He was filled with guilt and regret.
  • The gilt from the dress has been sticking on to my hands; I do not know how to wash it off.
  • Be
  • Bee
  • Verb
  • Noun
  • They will be reaching Dindigul around 11:30 p.m.
  • A bee stung my father when he opened the letter box.
  • Stationary
  • Stationery
  • Adjective
  • Noun
  • We did not realise that the picture was stationary as it had an illusionary effect.
  • The stationery shop has been closed for a month now.
  • Principal
  • Principle
  • Noun/Adjective
  • Noun
  • The Principal announced that tomorrow will be a holiday on account of centum results.
  • The principal aim of this induction programme is to introduce the nature of the course and the discipline you have chosen.
  • My father lives by certain principles.
  • Kernel
  • Colonel
  • Noun
  • Noun
  • Did you know what was the kernel of the argument?
  • Have you tasted the kernel of a badam?
  • My brother is a colonel.
  • Council
  • Counsel
  • Noun
  • Noun
  • It was decided in the council that all members have to go through the screening process.
  • With proper counsel, you will be able to decide with no doubt which discipline you should take up for your higher studies.
  • Hole
  • Whole
  • Noun
  • Adjective
  • He did not notice that there was a hole in the shirt he purchased yesterday.
  • The whole gang was staying at our house tonight.
  • Write
  • Right
  • Verb
  • Adjective
  • The teacher asked the students to write an essay on friendship.
  • She sat on my right side.
  • Seen
  • Scene
  • Verb
  • Noun
  • Have you seen the newly built underwater museum?
  • Nobody could tell which scene in the movie was the most touching.
  • Check
  • Cheque
  • Verb
  • Noun
  • Can you please check if you have taken my notebook by mistake?
  • Nive made the payment by cheque.
  • Bore
  • Boar
  • Verb
  • Noun
  • Even though he was way too young, he bore all the burdens to help his family stay strong.
  • Sunny spotted a wild boar.
  • No
  • Know
  • Adjective
  • Verb
  • There was no way we would reach the hall in time.
  • I know who you are.
  • New
  • Knew
  • Adjective
  • Verb
  • Harsha bought a new car.
  • Nobody knew anything about the red car parked in front of the apartments.
  • Raise
  • Rays
  • Verb
  • Noun
  • All of them were asked to raise their glasses for a toast.
  • The rays of the morning sun hit my window.
  • Peace
  • Piece
  • Noun
  • Noun
  • We have had no peace at all after we heard the news of the accident.
  • Do you want another piece of cake?
  • Buy
  • By
  • Verb
  • Preposition
  • They are planning to buy a dinner set to gift them.
  • My friends were sitting by the see-saw.
  • Baron
  • Barren
  • Noun
  • Adjective
  • Do you know who the first railway baron was?
  • The agricultural land has become completely barren.
  • Wise
  • Vice
  • Adjective
  • Noun
  • Aaron’s father is a wise man.
  • Man has to bear the consequences of his vices.
  • Fir
  • Fur
  • Noun
  • Noun
  • The little girl was excited to travel through a road with tall fir trees on either side.
  • The dog’s fur was all over the bed.
  • Bow
  • Bough
  • Verb
  • Noun
  • All of us bowed before the Queen.
  • We saw a squirrel running up the bough of the tree in front of our house.
  • Pray
  • Prey
  • Verb
  • Noun
  • All of us are praying for you.
  • The eagle found its prey in between the bushes.
  • Residence
  • Residents
  • Noun
  • Noun
  • It is not easy to find a good place of residence.
  • The residents of NSN Palayam have written a letter to the area councillor.
  • Him
  • Hymn
  • Pronoun
  • Noun
  • I think I know him.
  • We sing hymns after our family prayer.
  • Sea
  • See
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • The sea was filled with plastic waste.
  • Did you see my new dress?
  • Ad
  • Add
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • The newest ad on dog food is very funny.
  • I will add a few nuts and raisins to the payasam before serving.
  • Allowed
  • Aloud
  • Verb
  • Adverb
  • We have been allowed to take one dress of our choice as a complimentary gift for our service.
  • My mom asked me to read aloud.
  • Altar
  • Alter
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • The altar was decorated with flowers.
  • I had to alter the dress a little to fit me perfectly.
  • Flea
  • Flee
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • There were too many fleas on the horses in the stable.
  • I am planning to flee the country.
  • Bean
  • Been
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • I added boiled beans and potatoes to make the Russian salad.
  • She has been waiting to talk to you.
  • Meat
  • Meet
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • Do you eat meat?
  • I will meet my friends tomorrow.
  • Berry
  • Bury
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • What are the berries you like?
  • They buried their pet dog in their backyard.
  • Flew
  • Flu
  • Verb
  • Noun
  • The cocktail that my cousin had, flew away.
  • The flu affected the cattle and poultry.
  • Band
  • Banned
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • We exchange friendship bands to our dearest friends.
  • The government banned the use of plastic bags in Ooty.
  • Main
  • Mane
  • Adjective
  • Noun
  • What is the main purpose of your visit?
  • She wished she had silky and soft hair just like her horse’s mane.
  • Loan
  • Lone
  • Noun/Verb
  • Adjective
  • I have applied for a house loan.
  • Can you loan me some amount?
  • I am a lone traveller.
  • Medal
  • Meddle
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • My sister received a medal for her excellent contribution to the research and development department.
  • Danny asked Hari not to meddle with his project.
  • Fort
  • Fought
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • We visited the Tipu Sultan Fort yesterday.
  • My brother and I fought over something so stupid.
  • Ceiling
  • Sealing
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • All the classes here have false ceilings.
  • My mom told me not to send the letter without sealing it.
  • Sensor
  • Censor
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • We stopped by the workshop as we had to change the reverse sensor.
  • The accreditation board censored some of the dialogues in the movie as it was not age appropriate.
  • Steal
  • Steel
  • Verb
  • Noun
  • The little girl was trying to steal food as she was too hungry and had not eaten anything for days.
  • My cupboard is made of steel.
  • Throne
  • Thrown
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • Elsa was the next heir to the throne.
  • The ball was thrown across the road.
  • Cite
  • Sight
  • Site
  • Verb
  • Noun
  • Noun
  • You have to cite the quotes if you want to use them in your writing, in order to avoid plagiarism.
  • Nobody could bear to see the sight.
  • They felt that the site was big enough for them to build their dream house.
  • Desert
  • Dessert
  • Noun/Verb
  • Noun
  • We were in the middle of the desert and did not know where to go.
  • She was deserted by her friends.
  • We love to have some dessert after every meal.

Check Your Understanding of Homophones

Fill in the blanks by choosing the right homophone from the homophone pairs given in brackets in the following sentences.

1. We saw a _______ (bear/bare) on our way to Ooty.

2. This cupboard is made of _________. (steal/steel)

3. The ________ (soul/sole) purpose of this visit was to resolve the issues between us.

4. I ________ (sell/cell) second-hand cars for a living.

5. We booked the upper ________ (berth/birth) for our trip.

6. Did you ________ (caste/cast) your votes?

7. Can you please give us a _______ (brake/break)?

8. Does the class have a smart _________ (bored/board)?

9. Do you have the ________ (flour/flower) to make cookies?

10. Everyday, my sister wakes up at ________ (eight/ate) in the morning.

Check out if you chose the right homophone to fill in the blanks from the answers given below.

1. We saw a bear on our way to Ooty.

2. This cupboard is made of steel.

3. The sole purpose of this visit was to resolve the issues between us.

4. I sell second-hand cars for a living.

5. We booked the upper berth for our trip.

6. Did you cast your votes?

7. Can you please give us a break?

8. Does the class have a smart board?

9. Do you have the flour to make cookies?

10. Everyday, my sister wakes up at eight in the morning.

Frequently Asked Questions on Homophones in English

What is a homophone?

A homophone is a word that sounds similar to another word, but has different spellings and meanings.

What is the definition of a homophone?

According to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, a homophone is defined as “ a word that is pronounced like another word but has a different spelling or meaning.” The Cambridge Dictionary gives a similar definition. According to them, a homophone is “a word that is pronounced the same as another word but has a different meaning or spelling, or both.” A homophone, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “one of two or more words pronounced alike but different in meaning or derivation or spelling.” The Collins Dictionary defines homophones as “words with different meanings which are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently.”

What is the difference between a homophone and a homonym?

The main difference between a homophone and a homonym is that a homophone is a word that had the same phonetic sound as another word but has different meanings and functions; whereas, a homonym is a word that has the same spellings or pronunciation but have different functions and meanings.

Give some examples of homophones.

Here are a few examples of homophone pairs used in sentences for your reference.

  • The birth of their second son changed their lives forever.
  • As far as I am concerned, the lower berths in trains are comfortable for long journeys.
  • Nobody knows who was the next heir to the throne.
  • Your hair looks great today.
  • Not many people have a cell phone of their own.
  • What do you sell?
  • She did not know what to do with all the fruits they brought.
  • Do you know how to tie a knot?
  • I wish I could sit by the sea through the night.
  • Did you see the bride? She was absolutely beautiful.

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