It’s been a while since I’ve done a grammar post. As I’ve been writing lately, my fingers have been coming up with their own spellings of words that pass spellcheck but aren’t correct. And, voila, today’s post was born!
What are the words called that are spelled the same but sound different?
How about the words that sound the same but are spelled different? What are they called?
And then, what about those words that are spelled the same and sound the same? What are those called?
Here’s the cheat / check list:
Homophones are words that sound the same when pronounced and are spelled differently. (think ‘phone’ = ‘sound’) Examples:
- adds / ads
- air / heir
- ate / eight
- bare /bear
- bread / bred
- days / daze
- dear / deer
- dew / do
- doe / dough
- feat / feet
- fore / for / four
- hire / higher
- lead / led
- loan / lone
- meat / meet
- pair / pare / pear
- sail / sale
- sew / so
- there / their / they’re
- wear / where
Homographs are words that are spelled the same and they can sound the same, but don’t have to. (think ‘graph’ = spelling) Examples:
- bear (animal) / bear (carry something)
- bow (bend forward) / bow (of a ship)
- fair (reasonable) / fair (in appearance)
- lead (bullet) / lead (be in front)
- lean (thin) / lean (rest against)
- plain (ordinary) / plain (flat country)
- porter (beer) / porter (person)
- punch (drink) / punch (in the face)
- tear (apart) / (cry a ) tear
- train (teach) / train (transportation)
Homonyms are words that are spelled the same and/or sound the same – they are a combination of homophones and homographs. (think ‘onym’ = name). Examples:
- lead / led
- mean (nasty) / mean (math term)
- muscle / mussel
- pen (to write with) / pen (to cage animals)
- pour / pore
***Tip — all homonyms are homophones because they sound the same
Does this help clarify the terms and differences?
Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.