In simple terms, a homophone in English is a word that is pronounced the same as another word, but differs in meaning. A homophone may also differ in spelling. The two words may be spelled the same, such as left (a direction, the opposite of right) and left (the past tense of “to leave”) or differently, like four (a number) and for (in support of or on behalf of.) It is important to learn some common homophones while you are studying English, as many exist in the language.
One of the best ways to learn homophones is to practice them in context. For example:
- I received a rose when I rose to the occasion and completed running the marathon. (The first “rose” is a flower; the second “rose” is the past tense of “to rise.”)
- When I eat cereal, I like to watch a serial. (When I eat this food for breakfast, I like to watch this type of program.)
You can find additional examples and explanations using homophones in context at Your Dictionary. https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-homophones.html
Another method of learning homophones is to represent them visually, illustrating their differences in meaning.
This way can be especially effective if you are a visual learner, but anyone studying English as a Second Language can benefit from using this trick. You can find a more complete set of sentences and drawings that show the differences in meanings of the words at 7ESL. https://7esl.com/homophones/
Also, listening to sentences that contain homophones used correctly can help increase your understanding. Sometimes, these words are spelled the same in written form, but said differently when spoken. In the phrase, “My eyes will tear up if I tear my pants,” the first tear is pronounced, “teer” (like “ear”); the second is pronounced as “tare” (like “bare.”) Click on this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUa4FqVn2pA to hear 25 Common Homophones in English by English tonight.
Finally, your tutors at Cambly are all native English speakers. They are an excellent resource to help you use and understand homophones in your daily conversation, or to assist you for exam study.
Author: Senorita K, Cambly Tutor
If you’d like to keep this conversation going with Senorita K, give her a call on Cambly or make a reservation with her here: https://www.cambly.com/en/student/tutor/Senorita%20K