English: Notes and Observations

Homonyms and Homophones

Homonyms and Homophones are sources of common errors. A basic list of commonly used homophones and homonyms (and near homophones and near homonyms) will guide readers to know the differences between the given words.

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air: ... air is hot; (... has an air about her)
heir: ... is the heir to the throne.

bare: ... bare your heart; ... bare skin.
bear: ... polar bear.
bear: ... please bear with me.

been: ... have you been to that place.
bin: ... dust bin.

boar: ... the wild boar is an animal.
bore: ... bore a well; ... bore a child; ... that film is a bore.

coarse: ... its surface is coarse; ... flour is coarse.
course: ... law will take its own course; ... the course of a river; ... is studying in that course; ... golf course.

dear: ... is dear to me.
deer: ... deer are very fast.

ear: ... my ear; ... my ears; ... ears of corn.
year: ... the year 2007; ... the whole year.

flour: ... flour made by grinding corn.
flower: ... the rose flower.

gait: ... has a peculiar gait.
gate: ... through the gate.

hair: ... has nice hair; ... short hair.
hare: ... the hare won the race.

hall: ...hall is big; ...conference hall.
haul: ...haul the luggage; ... is a long haul.

hear: ... I can hear.
here: ... come here.

hole: ... burn a hole in the pocket; carpet has a hole.
whole: ... the whole chicken

its: ... its colour is red.
it's: ... it's red in colour.
(Search for 'Possessive Pronouns' on the web for details.)

knead: .. knead dough.
need: ... need food; ... need to know.

know: ... know someone.
no: ... say 'no' to someone.

loose: ... shirt is loose; ... loose tongue.
lose: ... don't lose the game; ... did you lose you watch?

main: ... is the main reason...
mane: ... has a thick mane ...

rain: ... might rain today.
rein: ... rein the horse; hold the reins.

 

sea: ... the Red sea; ... a sea of people.
see: ... see the sky; ... see through people.

sight: ... what a pleasant sight!
site: ... the building site.

sign: ... put your sign. (Short form of 'signature', now accepted as a word.)
sine: ... sine wave. (A trigonometric wave form.)

son: ... is my son.
sun: ... sun is bright.

soar: ... soar high.
sore: ... feet are sore.

stair: ... use the stair way.
stare: ... do not stare...

their: ... it is their house.
there: ... go over there.

tire: ... don't tire me.
tyre: ... car tyre.

verse: ... verse from the song.
worse: ... this is worse than that.
('V' and 'W' are pronounced differently.)

weather: ... the weather is sultry; the weather is humid.
whether: ... don't know whether it will rain.
Also,
wither: ... flowers wither away after some time.



Definitions from Wikipedia

(as on 31st May 2008)

Homophone

A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose (flower) and rose (past tense of "rise"), or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot, or two and too. A short example of a homophone is the words "know" and "no". Note that they are pronounced the same but have different meanings. A homophone is a type of homonym, although sometimes homonym is used to refer only to homophones that have the same spelling but different meanings.

Homonym

In linguistics, a homonym is one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings. Some sources only require that homonyms share the same spelling or pronunciation (in addition to having different meanings), but these are the definitions most other sources give for homographs and homophones respectively. The state of being a homonym is called homonymy. Examples of homonyms are stalk (which can mean either part of a plant or to follow someone around), bear (animal) and bear (carry), left (opposite of right) and left (past tense of leave). Some sources
also consider the following trio of words to be homonyms, but others designate them as "only" homophones: to, too and two. Some sources state that homonym meanings must be unrelated in origin (rather than just different). Thus right (correct) and right (opposed to left) would be polysemous and not be homonyms

Homogram

A homograph is one of a group of words that share the same spelling but have different meanings. When spoken, the meanings are sometimes, but not necessarily, distinguished by different pronunciations. A homograph can be either a homonym or a heteronym.