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Commonly Confused Homophones in English

Have you ever looked at some English words that are spelled differently pronounced the same but have different meanings? These can be somewhat confusing for even native speakers so I can imagine them being extremely confusing for those trying to tackle the issues of pronunciation, meaning and the correct spelling.

In fact there are over 440 such word pairs where the spelling is different the meaning is certainly different but the pronunciation is exactly the same. These are known as Homophones.

Examples of English homophones:

MADE/MAID

Made (v) – past tense and past participle of the verb ‘TO MAKE’
I made up my mind to learn English with a native speaker.

Maid (n) – a lady’s maid or help
She really missed the old days when every lady had her personal maid to help her with the housework.

BAND/BANNED

Band (n) – a group of musicians, a music ensemble
He was a good singer and also played the guitar. What he really wanted to do was join up with a band and make some records.

Band or banned? - commonly confused homophones

Banned (v) – past tense and past participle of the verb ‘TO BAN’ – to stop or prevent
He was charged by the police for driving without a proper licence and was banned from driving for three years.

EWE/YOU

Ewe (n) – female sheep
The farmer went to the market to buy some new livestock. He bought some cows and some sheep. The sheep were all ewes as he already had a ram (male sheep).

You – pronoun
It is important that you understand the basic mathematical formula if you wish to study it seriously.

FLEW/FLU

Flew (v) – past tense of the verb ‘TO FLY’
I went on holidays last week. I visited Thailand and flew there in 8 hours.

Flu (n) – virus or bug that affects your health
The school was closed for a week as many children had been taken ill with a flu virus and the management did not want others to become ill also.

BOARD/BORED

Board (n) – a group of people who control a company or school or similar organisation
The board of management meet every month to discuss the progress of the business. There is a chairman of the board who controls all the meetings.

Bored (v) – past tense and past participle of the verb ‘TO BORE’
The film was bad. The story was awful and after twenty minutes I was bored stiff.

WAIST/WASTE

Waist – the area around the middle of your body.
The Doctor measured her waist to check her health.

Waste – rubbish or left over food no longer needed.
The food waste was collected and placed in rubbish bins to be collected by the city’s waste collectors.

WAVE/WAIVE

Wave – the hand movement we use when saying good-bye to someone OR the part of the sea that surfers ride on when surfing.
When she left for her business trip her husband waved goodbye at the train station. The waves on the sea were very high due to the very strong wind.

Waive – refers to a decision to give up or do without something.
The business was not performing very well. The CEO waived his bonus payment to help the companies’ cash flow.

WEIGHT/WAIT

Weight – the size of people or things measured usually in Kilos.
He was very heavy the Doctor suggested that he lose some weight very quickly.

(to) Wait – is a verb that refers to the action when we are expecting something to happen. It can also be used as a noun.
When he called to the Dentist he was asked to wait in the waiting room until the dentist was available. The wait (noun) was difficult as he was very nervous.

PLANE/PLAIN

Plane – the shortened version of airplane or aeroplane used to travel from country to country.
He went to the airport early so that he could book his seat in the middle of the plane.

Plain – means something blank or without colour or uninteresting.
He wanted to write a note and asked for some plain white paper. The food he ordered was plain and did not taste very good but the doctor had ordered him to eat only plain food without sauces.

BEAR/BARE

Bear – refers to the large animal which hibernates during the winter. It can also mean to carry or bring something.
The bear is a large animal that has several forms. The polar bear located in the artic zone and the brown bear in many states of the USA.

Bare – usually refers to something/somebody without any cover or clothes.
The model was bare except for the yellow hat that she was modelling!!
There are many many more homophones…What homophones do you know? Let us know in the comments below.

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