We can all attest that English can be challenging to learn, especially pronunciation.

Sometimes, words are spelled differently but pronounced the same in English. An example is “two” and “to”;  one is a number while the other is a preposition, yet they are pronounced the same.

Words that are spelled differently and pronounced the same are called homophones. 

What are English homophones

As mentioned above, Homophones are English words written differently but have similar pronunciations.   

Homophones can be complicated in the course of your English language learning journey. They are more complicated if you are not a native speaker of that language. 

In this article, we will discuss the types and commonly used homophones and their functions. 

How to learn to master homophones 

There are several ways of learning and mastering English homophones. You can start by memorizing these words and how they are used, learning the difference between homophone pairs, or getting a teacher to help you. 

If leaning towards the last option, consider getting an English teacher online from italki. 

italki is an online learning tool for language enthusiasts that allows learners to profit from accessible language tools at a minimal cost. italki is stable, credible, and productive in teaching learners of different ages. It is a valuable space for language students. In a nutshell, italki allows you to learn English homophones online.

learn languages at italki

As we mentioned earlier, italki gives you access to an English language online teacher. Their services are affordable and affordable for both iOS and Android users. All you need to do is create an account through the official italki website.

Learning English homophones using italki gives you complete control of your learning process and a chance to evaluate your growth. Expert tutors can prepare specialized lessons and exercises for you. You will also gain access to books, audio, and tapes on how to use homophones and common mistakes you should stay clear of. 

Pros of using italki 

  • italki Teachers and instructors are equipped, knowledgeable, and trained.
  • italki provides an active online community that facilitates the learning process. This community also offers some free language classes, which give you a chance to interact after each learning session. 
  • italki can make learning English homophones easy. 
  • Some simple lectures are made available to the public. Try them out before committing to a teacher. 

Knowing the above will help ease your English vocabulary learning process and make the learning process less stressful.

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Types of homophones

Grammatically, they are five types of homophobes which we will see below 

  • Homographs:  

These are words that are similar in spelling with different meanings. We call them homographs. An example is “hail,” which is referred to as an ice storm, and  “hail,” which has to do with something in a large number, e.g., a hail of bullets. 

  • Homonym: 

Homonyms are homophones with words that have similar pronunciations but are different in meaning.  For example, “cite,”  ” site,” and “site.”

  • Heterograph: 

These are words with different spellings yet similar pronunciations, for example, “right” and “write.”  

  • Oronym: 

These are Homophones that have many words or idioms having identical pronunciations. For example, “ice cream” and “I scream.”

  • Psuedo-homophones: 

In this case of homophones, one of the pairs of words is not accurate, for example, ” groan” and “gone.”  

Let’s cover some commonly used homophones in English. After understanding what homophones are, it’s essential to know which are commonly used to avoid common mistakes in daily conversations. 

Homophones usually come in pairs, but they can sometimes come in trios (groups of three). That is to say. These are groups of words with the same pronunciation, different spellings, and meanings, for example.

  • ad and add
  • affect and effect
  • ate and eight
  • ant and aunt

As earlier mentioned, Some homophones come in sets of three words. Same pronunciation yet different spelling, for example:

  • buy, by, and bye
  • rain, reign, 
  • to, too, and two
  • their, there, and they’re

In each of those sets, the homophones have the same pronunciation, but they imply different things with different spellings.

Commonly used homophones in English

  1. Which/Witch: 

The first ” Which” is a pronoun when addressing things or animals, while the other “Witch” means evil or scary person. 

  1. Here/Hear:  

“Here” is used as an adverb to refer to location, while “Hear” is a verb that demonstrates listening.

  1. Weather/Whether: 

“Weather” is used when talking about atmospheric conditions, while “whether” is used to introduce choice. 

  1. Buy/ By: 

Use “Buy”  when paying for something, while “By” is used as a preposition to disclose the location.

  1. Two/Too: 

“Two” is used in numbering, while “Too” is an adverb. 

  1. are/our: 

“Are” is a verb, for example.”We are having a great time at the mall.” our,” on the other hand, is an adjective. For example, They will send “our” tickets to the hotel lobby.

  1. Accept/except:

“Accept” is a verb that means to receive. For example, I will “accept” his proposal if he asks. While “except” is a preposition to mean an exclusion. For example, you may give all things “except” my car keys.

  1. bear/ bare:

 Use a bear when talking about an animal, a large mammal. For example, the brown bear opens the safety gate at the camp.  While bare is used as an adjective implying the absence of clothing for example her bare body scorched under direct sunlight.

  1. complement/compliment:

Use complement when relating to something that enriches for example  The peanut butter sauce is an excellent complement to the white rice for launch. Use “compliment” as a manner of praise: I was excited to receive many compliments on my new car.

  1. capital/capitol: 

Use capital when citing a city or an uppercase letter The capital of the United States is Washington, D.C..  Use ‘capitol’ when talking about a building where kingmakers gather, for example, The capitol has done substantial changes for the new king. 

  1. principle/principal: 

Use principle as a noun which means a basic fact, for example, many crucial life principles are understood in elementary education. Use principal as a noun implying a school head for example The principal of Court high school is a respected individual in our community because of all the hard work she puts into her job. 

The functions of homophones

Homophones are used in most cases, to create comical impacts by using words with more than one meaning. 

It also has functions to help students with learning new words with a chance to improve their pronunciation and spelling ability.

The objective of homophones in literature most times is to create a funny effect for readers’ and listeners’ pleasure by utilizing words with more than one meaning or different words with the same pronunciation creating a wordplay. 

In everyday life, these words are assigned deliberately in humorous remarks and also happy expressions.


Now that you have an understanding of what homophones are, your English Language learning journey just got slightly easier. As mentioned earlier, this might be difficult initially, especially if you are not a native English speaker. This is why italki is here for you. 

Get an online English teacher on italki and let us take you on a stressless English journey.

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