The words ‘homonym’ and ‘homophone’ can seem quite confusing.

‘Homo’ comes from Greek and means ‘same’. ‘Phone’ also comes from Greek and means ‘voice’ or ‘utterance’.  A homophone is a word that sounds the same as another word but is spelled differently and has a different meaning, for example, ‘bean’ and ‘been’, ‘brake’ and ‘break’, ‘cell’ and ‘sell’.

A homonym sounds and is spelled the same as another word, but has a different meaning, for example: I can’t bear the sound of her voice. (Here, ‘bear’ is a verb.) I feel so sorry for the bear in the zoo. (Here, ‘bear’ is a noun.)

Some people put words that are spelled the same but are pronounced differently into a third group called homographs. For example: Please wind up your window, it is cold. The wind is blowing hard today. (In the first sentence, ‘wind’ rhymes with ‘mind’, and in the second, ‘wind’ rhymes with ‘grinned’.) However, many people include homographs in the homonym group.

There are many homophones and homonyms in English. Homophones often cause spelling mistakes. If you are confused about which word to use in a sentence or how to spell the word, it is best to check the spelling and meaning in a dictionary.

A few homophones:

We are not allowed to speak aloud in here.
If you feel bored, you could play a board game.
She went to buy groceries by herself.
I can hear some strange noises in this corner, here.
We had to fix a hole in the boat, so the whole outing was delayed.
It’s funny when a dog chases its tail.
I need to buy some meat for supper, so we could meet outside the butchery.
My parents knew that I wanted a new phone, so they bought me one for my birthday.
Nobuntu has passed all the tests she wrote in the past ten months.
Take a piece of cake, then go and play and leave me in peace.

On principle [a belief about what is important] and to teach students a lesson, the principal will not allow latecomers into the gate.

I read a book with a red cover, but I can’t remember its title.
You are right to write to the newspaper and complain about the litter.
Can you see whales in the sea from your window?
I have never seen such a badly acted movie; the scene where the friends fight was totally unconvincing.
He suddenly stood stationary [still, unmoving], remembering that he had left all his stationery at home.
My sister was sleeping there, so my cousins put their suitcases down in the passage.
I will never forget the day I threw a tennis ball through the neighbour’s window.
She was too shy to take two pieces of cake.
That new pair of pants didn’t fit me around the waist, so I gave them away; what a waste of money!
Do you know whether the weather will be nice on the weekend?
I need to wear a hat in this heat, but I don’t know where I put it.
Who’s going to tell me whose mess this is?

A few homonyms:

Write the address on the envelope before you post the letter.
The man decided to address the problem by talking to his wife.

I love playing the trumpet in the band.
The teacher asked her to tie her hair up in a band.

Did we win the soccer match?
Do you have a match to light the fire?
Does this shirt match these jeans?

What does this word mean?
That boy is a mean bully to small children.

In the 1960s teenagers loved to rock and roll.
He broke his toe when a rock fell on his foot.

This rose is so pretty.
The huge plane rose into the sky.

A drop of water landed on my face.
I hope there is a drop in prices soon.

Park your bicycle there.
Let’s go to the park and play.

Will you saw the wood into smaller pieces?
You’ll never guess who I just saw!

The fish scale glittered in the sunlight.
I weighed myself on a scale.
Did you see the robber scale [climb] the wall and escape?

Try not to trip over your own two feet.
Have a lovely trip to Egypt!

A large wave knocked me over in the sea.
Wave goodbye to your grandmother.

A few homographs:

The doctor stitched up her wound. (rhymes with ‘spooned’)
Have you wound up all the balls of wool? (rhymes with ‘found’)

She wore a red bow in her hair. (rhymes with ‘go’)
Remember to bow to the audience. (rhymes with ‘now’)

We sat in the back row. (rhymes with ‘go’)
My girlfriend and I had a terrible row. (fight) (rhymes with ‘now’)

Close the door, please. (rhymes with ‘nose’ and the ‘s’ sounds like a ‘z’)
I live close to the school. (‘s’ is softer)

Your excuse is weak and pathetic. (soft ‘s’)
May I excuse myself from the room, please? (‘s’ sounds like ‘z’).

This is a nice house. (soft ‘s’)
We need to house a hundred people. (‘s’ sounds like ‘z’)

It is no use to complain. (soft ‘s’)
Please may I use your ruler? (‘s’ sounds like ‘z’)

(Notice that in the last four examples the verb has the ‘z’ sound.)