Homophones And Homonyms: What Are They? I Oxford Open Learning


Homophones And Homonyms: What Are They?

We speak English. We write it and read it. But that doesn’t make it an easy language. Let’s pull apart some confusing aspects of English – and hopefully, this will straighten things out for you.


Do you know your (or is it you’re? No, it isn’t) ‘bear’ from your ‘bare’? What about ‘there’ and ‘their’, or ‘mail’ and ‘male’? It can be tough getting it right – so checking is important because getting it wrong can completely affect the meaning of your writing.

So, homophones – what are they?  Well, it’s actually quite simple. They are words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings.

What About Homonyms?

These are quite different. Does your tire ‘tire’? What was it that your saw ‘saw’? Maybe your dog likes to ‘bark’ at the tree’s bark. You will realise now that homonyms are words that sound the same, are spelled the same but have very different meanings.

It isn’t just about homophones and homonyms, though. There are all sorts of other things in English that can cause head-scratching. Think of a noun – a name of something. If you want to make it plural, you [usually] add an ‘s’: cat becomes cats; kitchen becomes kitchens; girl becomes girls. I think that is clear. However, some plural nouns don’t end in ‘s’: child becomes children; person becomes people. You will need to check the context in which you are writing – and this will help you on your journey down the twisty road known as English.

Other Bits And Bobs

If you have been affected by this blog, and you have enjoyed the effects, it has served its* purpose.

*Its: This can cause problems. If it’s cold, the apostrophe is taking the place of the missing ‘i’: it is becomes it’s. However, if you are referring to something, such as Its tail is very long, no apostrophe is needed.

There – that has hopefully helped you!

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