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 English Vocabulary for ESL learners 


What are homonyms?

Homonyms include two sub categories: Homographs and Homophones.
Homographs are words with the same spelling  but  a different meaning.
Homophones are words with the same sound but have different meanings.

(same spelling)
(same sound)
air   heir - I'm going out for some fresh air.
- George is the heir to the throne.
aloud   allowed - Children are not allowed in the casino.
- Could you read the letter aloud please?
ate   eight - The little boy ate all the biscuits.
- There were eight biscuits on the plate.
band band   - Keep them together with a rubber band.
- A band of thieves arrived in the area.
bank bank   - My salary is paid into my bank account.
- I often walk along the bank of the river.
bare   bear - The floor was bare, with not even a rug.
- Polar bears can be found in the Arctic Circle.
bark bark   - Some dogs bark a lot.
- Cork comes from the bark of a tree.
bat bat   - You need a bat to play baseball.
- A bat flies at night.
bread   bred - We need bread to make sandwiches.
- Charles was born and bred in England.
bow   bough - The actors bowed to the audience.
- A bough of the tree nearly touched the ground.
cell cell sell - The human body is composed of millions of cells.
- The prisoner was kept in a cell.
- The shop sells fruit and vegetables.
cent   sent
- There are 100 cents in a dollar.
- His mother sent him to buy the newspaper.
- Do you like the scent of lavender?
cereal   serial - Alex has cereal for breakfast.
- Serials are popular on TV.
close close   - Close the door please.
- The cinema is close to the church.
coarse   course - He wore a coarse woollen jacket.
- She is taking a course in Chinese.
dear   deer - Dear Mr. Brown.
- The female deer is called a doe.
die   dye - It's very sad to die young.
- I'm going to dye my hair red.
eight   ate - Eight is the double of four.
- He ate everything on his plate.
fair fair fare - Our teacher is fair. She treats us all equally.
- The weather was quite fair all week.
- How much is the bus fare?
fan fan   - Did the Rolling Stones have many fans?
- It's so hot!  Please turn on the fan.
fine fine   - My grandmother is feeling fine today.
- Jack got a fine for illegal parking.
flea   flee - Cats and dogs often get fleas.
- Hundreds of refugees are trying to flee the country.
flower   flour - My mother has a variety of flowers in her garden.
- Flour is used to make cakes and pastries.
great   grate - Tom! It's great to see you!
- Grate cheese over the dish, then put it in the oven.
ground ground   - Julie loves the smell of ground coffee.
- The boy fell on the ground and hurt his knee.
hair   hare - She keeps her hair shoulder-length.
- A hare is a bit like a rabbit with longer ears.
hall haul - Let's meet in the entrance hall in 30 mins.
- I had to haul my suitcase up 3 flights of stairs!
hanger hanger   - Each plane is in a separate hangar.
- Here's a hanger to hang up your coat.
heal   heel - His wounds took quite some time to heal.
- I can't walk in high heels!
hear   here - Did you hear what I said?
- Come here and look at this photograph!
hole   whole - The old man's sweater was full of holes.
- Alex ate the whole bar of chocolate!
key   quai - I'd open the door if I had the key.
- A crowd on the quay waited for the boat to arrive
knight   night - The Knights of the Round Table.
- They worked day and night to finish the project.
know   no - "Do you know that man?"
- "No, I don't."
lie lie   - "Don't lie to me. Tell me the truth!"
- "I'm going to lie down and have a rest."
mail   male - The contract will be sent by mail.
- Human beings are either male or female.
mean mean   - What does 'homonym' mean?
- He's wealthy but mean; he won't make a donation.
meat   meet - Meat is an excellent source of protein.
- I suggest we meet at 12.30 for lunch tomorrow.
none   nun - We've eaten all the apples. There are none left.
- A nun takes religious vows and lives in a convent.
one   won - You can have one sweet only.
- Jack won the tennis match last week.
pail   pale - She used a pail of water to wash the dishes.
- "You look a bit pale. Are you feeling ok?"
pair   pear - "I need a pair of scissors to cut the thread."
- In the fruit bowl there were apples and pears.
peace   piece - After years of civil war the people wanted peace.
- "Would you like a piece of chocolate?"
plain plain plane - She looked elegant in a plain simple dress.
- His disapproval was plain to see.
- The plane to London left at 3 p.m.
pupil pupil   - The teacher reminded the pupils to arrive on time.
- The pupil is in the centre of the iris of the eye.
race race   - "Which horse won the race on Saturday?"
- People of all races can live in harmony here.
rain   rein
- Heavy rain caused flooding in the area.
- A rider uses reins to control his horse.
- How long did Queen Victoria reign ?
read   reed - He finds it difficult to read without his glasses.
- Reeds are grass-like plants that grow near the water.
right   write - "That's right. Your answer is correct!"
- "I'm going to write a letter of application for the job."
ring ring   - The young couple exchanged wedding rings.
- The children sat in a ring around the teacher.
- The church bells ring for the morning service.
roll   role - George Clooney played the main role in the film.
- They bought 3 rolls of wallpaper.
- Don't let the ball roll across the road.
root   route - The root of a plant is in the soil.
- They looked for the straightest route home.
row row   - We got seats in the front row.
- Julie is not happy; she had a row with her boyfriend.
sail   sale - Jack got in his boat to sail  across the bay.
- The salesman gets a commission on each sale.
sea   see - Dolphins live in the sea.
- Look!  Can you see the dolphins?
sew sow   - A button fell off, so I had to sew it back on.
- Every spring he sows flower seeds in his garden.
sight site   - My grandfather can't see well.  His sight is failing.
- The town authorities have bought a site for a school.
sole sole soul - There were holes in the soles of his shoes.
- He was the sole survivor of the plane crash.
- Christians believe that the soul exists after death.
some   sum - Some people fine English difficult, others find it easy.
- The sum of 2 and 2 is 4.
son   sun - Their son is called Tom; their daughter is called Eva.
- People wear suncream when they lie in the sun.
stair   stair - Stairs lead from one floor to another.
- It's very rude to stare at other people.
stake stake steak - A strong wooden stick can be called a stake.
- Drive carefully; your life is at stake.
- His favourite meal is steak and chips.
steal   steel - It's dishonest to steal. You must give that back!
- Steel is used to make vehicles and machinery.
suite   sweet - A set of rooms in a hotel is called a suite.
- Sugar has a sweet taste.
tail   tale - Cats and dogs have tails.
- Children love listening to fairy tales.
tear tear   - The story was so sad a tear rolled down her cheek.
- Be careful not to tear the newspaper
tip tip   - He gave the waiter a tip.
- Do you need some advice? I can give you a tip.
toast toast   - I usually have tea and toast for breakfast.
- Guests raise their glasses to toast the bridal couple.
toe   tow - Each foot has five toes.
The police will tow your car away if you park there.
vain vain vein - She's a vain person who has a high opinion of herself.
- Our efforts were in vain; the project failed.
- Veins in the body carry blood to the heart.
waist   waste - She wore a red belt around her waist.
- Turn off the tap. We mustn't waste water.
wait   weight - I had to wait 10 minutes for the bus.
- If you eat too much you'll put on weight.
way   weigh - Can you tell me the way to the station please?
- That looks heavy. How much does it weigh?
weak   week - My mother still feels weak after her illness.
-There are seven days in a week.
which   witch - Which do you prefer, the blue one or the green one?
- In fairy stories a witch has evil powers
wind wind   - We can't go windsurfing if there's no wind.
- I'm going to wind a bandage around your arm.
wound wound   - I wound up the old alarm clock and got into bed.
- Several bullet wounds were found on his body.

See also:   synonyms  Ι antonyms  Ι comparative table

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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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