Homophones -- Words That Sound the Same

by PeggyHazelwood

Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently. This homophones list has words that are used every day. Learn the correct spellings.

Homophones are words that sound the same, but these words are spelled differently. This article lists homophones that we all use in our everyday speech. Learn the correct spellings to use the right word when you write. To use the English language correctly, knowing the correct spellings is important.

This homophones list contains words commonly used in speech and writing. Since homophones sound the same, when they are spoken, we hear them correctly. That is, the words sound correct. It gets tricky when choosing the correct spelling for these words when writing.

Commonly Used Words That Are Homophones

The following homophones list contains Merriam-Webster dictionary's first meanings or common meanings:

  • bread, bred: bread is a usually baked or leavened food made from flour or meal; bred is the past tense of breed, which means to produce (offspring) by gestation or hatching
  • capital, capitol: capital means several things including the uppermost member of a column, a stock of accumulated goods, a capital letter (uppercase), a city serving as a seat of government; capitol is a building in which a state legislative body meets. Note: Remember that a capitol building has a dome, which is a circle like an "oh" that is used to spell capitol.
  • forth, fourth: forth is onward in time, place, or order; fourth is a number
  • him, hymn: him is the objective case of the word he; hymn is a song of praise to God
  • know, no: know is to perceive correctly; no is used to express a negative, not any
  • ordinance, ordnance: ordinance is an authoritative decree or direction ; ordnance means military supplies including weapons, ammunition, combat vehicles, and maintenance tools and equipment
  • peak, pique: peak as a noun means a pointed end and as a verb, peak means to reach a maximum; pique means to excite or arouse
  • poor, pore, pour: poor means lacking material possessions; pore as a verb means to gaze intently and pore as a noun is a minute opening especially in a plant or animal; pour means to cause to flow in a stream
  • prince, prints: prince is a male member of a royal family; prints is the plural form of the word print, which means a mark made by pressure
  • read, red: read as a verb means to receive or take in the sense by sight or touch, also to understand or comprehend; red is the color red
  • sighs, size: sighs is the plural form of the word sigh, which means to take a deep audible breath; size means physical magnitude, extent, or bulk
  • vial, vile: vial is a small closed or closable vessel especially for liquids; vile means morally despicable or abhorrent
  • when, win: when means at what time; win means to get possession of by effort or fortune

When Writing, Say the Words Aloud

While writing, it's a good idea to say the words aloud as a double check that you are using the correct spelling of homophones.

I catch myself misspelling the words there, their, and they're, even though I know the meaning of all of these words. So, when deciding which word to use, it can be helpful to say the sentence out loud.

The pronunciation of some homophones may be slightly different and your ear is often able to determine which word you want to use. When in doubt, look up homonyms in the dictionary to spell homophones correctly.

Updated: 10/22/2014, PeggyHazelwood
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What Homophones Do You Struggle With?

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WriterArtist on 10/24/2014

I think the common ones that I struggle are
"than and then",
"there and their"
and the list goes on.....
English language is amazing, they could have done without creating these homophones. Sigh!!!!

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