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Homonyms vs. Homophones

Christina Andrew Apr 20, 2019
There are many confusing words in the English language that spell the same, but mean different and some sound the same, and also spell the same, and, wait what? It's so confusing, isn't it? Well, don't worry as we have some definitions and comparisons, which will clear your doubts.

Going Back to the Origin

The easiest way of knowing the difference between homonyms and homophones is to go by their name origins. These names are derived from the Greek language:

• homo meaning "same",
• onym meaning "names/spellings", and
• phones meaning "voice/sound/pronunciation."
The best and the most difficult part of the English language is Grammar. If you know the grammar, you know the language. As they say, English is a funny language; there are many words that spell the same but mean different, and some sound same but mean different.
These words have been categorized into homonyms and homophones. It's often confusing for students to decipher which is which. So we give you the definitions and a few examples along with their explanation to make it easier for you to understand.

What are Homonyms?

Words that have same spellings, OR same pronunciations, OR both, but come with different meanings are homonyms. (We know it's still confusing, so it's right to write an example for you.)

Example: right, write.
bear (the animal), can bear (tolerate)

What are Homophones?

Homophones are a part of homonyms. They inherit only the pronunciation part of homonyms. Words that have the same pronunciation, spell different, and mean different are homophones. (It's too nice of us to give you more than two examples here.)

Example: to, too, two
one, won
be, bee
in, inn
sun, son

Examples of Homonyms with Same Spelling

❖ LEFT (turn to your left), LEFT (he just left)

❖ DESERT (lost in the desert), DESERT (don't desert him)

❖ BEAR (bears eat fish), BEAR (bear the consequences)

❖ LIGHT (light the candle), LIGHT (turn the light off)

❖ FIRE (forest fire), FIRE (he was fired)
❖ BAND (rock band), BAND (rubber band)

❖ BANK (river bank), BANK (bank account)

❖ BARK (bark of a tree), BARK (dogs bark)

❖ BAT (mammal), BAT (baseball bat)

❖ BOW (tie a bow), BOW (bow down)
❖ FAIR (that's fair), FAIR (book fair)

❖ POLE (telegraph pole), POLE (North pole)

❖ GROUND (fall to the ground), GROUND (ground coffee)

❖ FINE (I'm fine), FINE (pay a fine)

❖ LIE (lie on the bed), LIE (lie to someone)
❖ MEAN (he's mean), MEAN (what do you mean?)

❖ POUND (pound on someone), POUND (currency)

❖ RACE (human race), RACE (race cars)

❖ RING (ring the bell), RING (wedding ring)

❖ ROW (row a boat), ROW (row in a table)
❖ SOLE (shoe sole), SOLE (sole witness)

❖ TIP (needle tip), TIP (tip for waiters)

❖ TOAST (piece of toast), TOAST (raise a toast)

❖ TRUNK (tree trunk), TRUNK (trunk of a car)
❖ WELL (well, what was I saying), WELL (well of water)

❖ LEAD (lead the way), LEAD (chemical element)

❖ SOW (female pig), SOW (sow seeds)

❖ WIND (blowing wind), WIND (wind the clock)

Remember: Homophones can be homonyms, but not necessarily vice versa.

Examples of Homophones

❖ TO (to do), TOO (you too), TWO (number two)

❖ ONE (number one), WON (won the game)

❖ BE (be good), BEE (honey bee)

❖ IN (let me in), INN (country inn)

❖ AD (advertisement), ADD (addition)

❖ SUN (sun shine), SON (his son)
❖ PEACE (peace be with you), PIECE (piece of cake)

❖ FLAIR (a flair for painting), FLARE (he flared up)

❖ FLEW (the bird flew), FLU (cold and flu), FLUE (a pipe or channel)

❖ AISLE (walk the aisle), ISLE (a small island), I'LL (I'll wait for you)

❖ AIR (hot air), HEIR (heir to the throne), ERR (to err is human)
❖ FLOUR (bread flour), FLOWER (garland of flowers)

❖ ALL READY (all ready and set), ALREADY (it's already done)

❖ FLOCKS (flocks of sheep), PHLOX (a flower)

❖ PER (per head), PURR (the purr of a cat)

❖ ALLOWED (you are not allowed here), ALOUD (say that aloud)
❖ ALTER (alter my clothes), ALTAR (a prayer at the altar)

❖ PLAIN (as plain as your nose), PLANE (flat 2D surface/aircraft)

❖ FOUL (foul smell), FOWL (a bird)

❖ ARC (a part of curve), ARK (Noah's ark)

❖ POLE (pole dance), POLL (process of voting)
❖ MIGHT (great and mighty), MITE (an insect: ticks and mites)

❖ ATE (I ate my food), EIGHT (the number eight)

❖ GENES (it's in my genes), JEANS (my old jeans)

❖ DIE (humans die), DYE (dye my hair)

❖ GILT (gold leaf/gold paint), GUILT (prisoner's guilt)
❖ GROAN (moan), GROWN (I'm a grown-up)

❖ GRATE (grate the cheese), GREAT (how great Thou art)

❖ BAND (music band), BANNED (smoking is banned here)

❖ HAIR (wash your hair), HARE (hare and the tortoise)