HOMOPHONES are two or more words that sound alike, but have different meanings or spellings.

In the sentence below, for example, every word is spelled correctly but three words are the wrong words, and even the spellchecker will not flag one of them.

Can you spot the homophones in the sentence below?

I herd the reign ruined there picnic.

 One great way to improve spelling skills is to learn the correct spellings and meanings of common sets of homophones.

A large percentage of spelling errors at High School are actually homophone usage errors.

Written correctly, the sentence should, of course, read:

 I heard the rain ruined their picnic.

pexels-photo-256417.jpegIncluded below are sets of commonly used and sometimes confused sets of homophones.

To help you improve spelling skills, for each word listed, I have included the most common meanings focusing on:

  • what part of speech it is (sometimes).
  • a very brief definition.
  • a sentence to test your understanding of the homophone word/s.
  • answers to the sentences given at the end.

Please note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

1. affect/effect

  • Affect means to change or make a difference to . . .
  • Effect means a result; to bring about a result; used as a verb meaning to cause/achieve or to bring about . . .

Using the correct use of affect/effect, fill in the sentences:

  • The medicine did not . . . . the way the doctor had hoped.
  • The magician . . . (ed) his escape with a false door
  • The new medicine had negative side . . . .

2. accept/except

  • To accept is to agree to receive or do . . .
  • except means not including . . .

Using the correct use of accept/except, fill in the sentences:

  1. The organization will . . . donations from well-wishers.
  2. You may donate all items . . . car seats and cribs.

3. altogether/all together

  • Altogether means “completely” or “entirely,”eg: He denied all knowledge of it’
  • All together refers to a group of people or things that act collectively or at the same time, eg: “Let’s raise our glasses all together!” 

4. aloud/allowed

  • Use aloud when referring to something said out loud.
  • Use allowed when referring to something permitted.

Using the correct use of aloud/allowed, fill in the sentences:

  1. Reading . . . – and doing it well– is a skill that requires much practice.
  2. Dogs are not . . . to be on school property between 2:45-4pm.

5. advice/advise

  • Advice is a recommendations about what to do.
  • Advise is a verb meaning to recommend something.

Using the correct use of advice/advise, fill in the sentences:

  1. Shona . . . Holy to avoid the questionable chicken salad.
  2. Charles gave Paul good . . . .

6. assure/ensure/insure

  • Assure means to tell someone that something will definitely happen or is definitely true.
  • Ensure means to guarantee or make sure of something.
  • Insure means to take out an insurance policy.

Using the correct use of assure/ensure/insure, fill in the sentences:

  1. Lennie took steps to . . . that no one cheated at Bingo.
  2. The car was . . . against damage caused by flooding.
  3. Tad assured Pearl that no one would cheat at Bingo.

7. addition/edition

  • An addition is something that is added.
  • An edition is one in a series of printed material.

Using the correct use of addition/edition, fill in the sentences:

  1. Did you see the latest . . . of the paper?
  2. We built an . . . . onto the house.

8. adverse/averse

  • Adverse – unfavourable, harmful
  • Averse – strongly disliking; opposed

Using the correct use of adverse/averse, fill in the sentences:

  1. Taxes are having an . . . effect on production.
  2. He was a man known to be extremely controlling and . . . to intrusions.

9. aisle/isle

  • Aisle a passage between rows of seats
  • Isle is an island

Using the correct use of aisle/isle, fill in the sentences:

  1. He lives in the British . . . .
  2. The musical had the audience dancing in the . . . .

10. along/a long

  • Along is moving or extending horizontally on
  • A long refers to something of great length

Using the correct use of along/a long, fill in the sentences:

  1. We just continued to plod . . . the tasks.
  2. I went for . . . . walk.

11. altar/alter

  • Altar is a sacred table in a church
  • Alter is to change

Using the correct use of altar/alter, fill in the sentences:

  1. Andrew was persuaded to . . . the passage.
  2. I spent time in the cathedral admiring the . . . and ceiling.

12. amoral/immoral

  •  Amoral is not concerned with right or wrong
  • Immoral means not following accepted moral standards

Using the correct use of amoral/immoral, fill in the sentences:

  1. The client pays for the . . . expertise of the lawyer.
  2. The council judged the film to be . . . and obscene.

13. appraise/apprise

  • To appraise is to assess
  • To apprise is to inform someone

Using the correct use of appraise/apprise, fill in the sentences:

  1. There is a need to . . . existing techniques in the Department.
  2. I thought it right to . . . Chris of what had happened.

14. assent/ascent/accent

  • Assent is an agreement, approval
  • Ascent is the action of rising or climbing up

Using the correct use of assent/ascent, fill in the sentences:

  1. There was a loud murmur of . . . to the new proposal.
  2. The . . . grew steeper as we climbed the mountain.

15. aural/oral

  •  Aural is relating to the ears or hearing ‘
  • Oral is relating to the mouth; spoken

Using the correct use of aural/oral, fill in the sentences:

  1. The information was held in written,  . . . , or visual form.
  2. The class had an . . . discussion of the topic.

ANSWERS: #1. a) affect   b) effected   c) effects; #2. a) accept   b) except; #4. a) aloud    b) allowed; #5 a) advised   b) advice; #6. a) ensure   b) insured c) assured; #7. a) edition   b) addition; #8. a) adverse   b) averse; #9. a) Isles    b) aisles; #10. a) along    b) a long; #11. a) alter   b) altar; #12. a) amoral   b) immoral; #13. a) appraise   b) apprise; #14. a) assent   b) ascent; #15. a) aural   b) oral

How did you fair?

HOMOPHONES are quite tricky and need a lot of care and attention. It is always advisable to EDIT your work if you are someone who tends to get confused with them. In the end you will get the hang of it!

AGAIN, PRACTICE makes it perfect. Good luck in all your endeavours

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL


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