244. Pear of pairs
A pair of pears, image by Jon Oropeza

Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but have different definitions and spellings. Learning homophones can help you recognize when a word isn’t actually the word you think it is.

The expression “wine and dine” means something entirely different from “whine and dine.” Drinks and dinner sounds a lot more appealing than complaints and dinner! There are many, many homophones in English, so here are some to start learning.

Ad / Add

  • There was a rather witty ad in the newspaper today.
  • The boy couldn’t add two and two together.
  • You can add that ridiculous ad to the list of things I find insulting.

Ant / Aunt

  • Whenever she sees an ant, she steps on it.
  • He received many gifts from his aunts and uncles at his graduation party.
  • At the picnic, my aunt’s unattended pie became covered in the ants.

Blew / Blue

  • He blew out all fifty candles with just one breath.
  • My school colors were orange and blue.
  • The weather was perfect; the skies were blue, the sun was bright, and a gentle wind blew.

For / Four

  • What do you need all those pencils for?
  • In a stressful situation, take a deep breath and slowly count to four.
  • She still needs four more sources for her term paper.

Hear / Here

  • The restaurant was so noisy I couldn’t hear the person next to me.
  • Please put the box here, not there.
  • When you come here in the spring you can always hear baby birds chirping.

Hole / Whole

  • Someone should repair that big hole in the wall.
  • Without thinking, I ate the whole cake in ten minutes.
  • He didn’t notice the hole in his shirt the whole day he wore it.

Hour / Our

  • The smartest students finished the test in under an hour.
  • We seldom want to share our dessert with others.
  • It took the designer an hour to decorate our friend’s house, but two hours for ours.

Pair / Pear

  • Her favorite pair of shoes were pink, suede, and in need of repair.
  • Pears are grown all over the world.
  • The pair of friends shared a sandwich, a pear, and a bag of chips.

Right / Write

  • Following our GPS we turned right, but apparently that wasn’t the right way.
  • She likes to write letters by hand instead of typing them.
  • There’s no right or wrong way to write a journal.

Son / Sun

  • The father and son play catch in the park every Saturday.
  • You’ll hurt your eyes if you stare at the sun.
  • She told her son to turn the TV off and play outside in the sun.

Steal / Steel

  • If you try to steal something, be prepared to face the consequences.
  • Cars, ships, and appliances are made from steel and other materials.
  • The thief tried to steal the steel pots and pans, but they were too noisy.

Their / There / They’re

  • The children walk their dog every day after school.
  • Please put this book over there with the others.
  • The students have a big test on Monday so they’re going to study all weekend.
  • They’re going to walk all the way there to burn off the calories of their heavy lunch.

To / Too / Two

  • I’m going to the store to buy groceries.
  • If you eat too much food you’ll get sick, too!
  • Do you want one slice of pizza or two?
  • I’m taking the bus to school, but we’ll need two tickets if you go, too.

Weak / Week

  • Though she excelled at pull-ups, she was too weak to climb the rope in gym class.
  • They had taken two tests a week for the past month and were tired of studying.
  • After running a marathon last week, the runner felt too weak to run another.

Wear / Where

  • It’s a good idea to wear a hat and gloves when it’s cold oustide.
  • Where is the best place to study English?
  • When I wear these shoes people often ask where I got them.

Whine / Wine

  • Students usually whine when they get too much homework.
  • While he loves to drink wine, his wife doesn’t.
  • Some people whine when their wine isn’t the right temperature.

More homophones:
ate/eight, bare/bear, be/bee, board/bored brake/break, buy/by/bye, dear/deer, feat/feet, flour/flower, hair/hare, heal/heel, hour/our, knew/new, knight/night, knot/not, leak/leek, made/maid, mail/male, meet/meat, one/won, pour/poor, role/roll, sale/sail, sew/so, soar/sore, stairs/stares, waist/waste, way/weigh, who’s/whose