Language Learning – Mastering the Horror of Homonyms

It has been said that English is one of the hardest languages to learn.  It definitely has its tricks and mysteries.

One of the hardest things about learning the English language is learning when and where to use the right word, especially when it comes to homonyms.  If you are planning to go to an ESL school then a big part of your learning will include the proper use of homonyms.

The first pointer to understand is the difference between a homonym and a homophone.

Homonym defines two words that are spelled and pronounced the exact same way but actually have different meanings.

Homophone defines two words that are pronounced the same but spelled differently and have different meanings.

Unfortunately there is no way to handle using the right word for your purpose other than memorizing them.  Homonyms and homophones really only matter in the written language obviously, as no one knows which one you’re using when you’re speaking! Building a list of homonyms as you go will help to serve as a reference in your English writing.

There are numerous websites and workbooks available that provide exercises for practicing the correct use of homonyms.   Below is a list of some of the most common homonyms that you are likely to use most often.

Ate….  past tense of eat      Eight …the number 8

Bare….naked                        Bear…..an animal

Be……to exist                        Bee…..a stinging insect

Been….Past tense of be    Bean….a vegetable

Bye….farewell                      Buy….Purchase

Deer…an animal                 Dear…cherished

Fair….Equal                          Fare…toll charge

Feet…plural of foot              Feat…..accomplishment

Find…locate                         Fined….given a penalty

Flower….vegetation            Flour……a grain

For…in place of                   Four…number 4

Hi…a  greeting                    High…way up

Hours…60 minutes            Ours….belonging to us

Knows…has learned         Nose….Facial feature

Lone…by oneself               Loan….borrow

Made…created                   Maid…young woman

Marry…to wed                     Merry…Happy

Meat….animal flesh          Meet….get together

One…singular                   Won…past tense of win

Pair…put in twos               Pear…a fruit

To……towards                   Too….also    Two…number 2

There…a place                 Their..belonging to them    They’re…they are

Vary..to change                 Very…..extremely

Wait…stay ready              Weight….Heaviness

Wear…attire                      Where…a place

Weak…feeble                  Week…7 days

Which…selection            Witch……hag

Wood…tree                      Would….will do

These are just a few of the main homonyms found in everyday English.  Homophones are somewhat harder to list as they are less common.  Some examples are chair, the piece of furniture, and chair, to run a committee or meeting: cleave, to cut and cleave to cling to: game, an activity, game, wild animal:  Without a doubt, learning where and when to use the right word, and getting the spelling correct, are two of the most difficult skills to master when taking an ESL program.

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Source by Susan Thomason

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