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Studying Homophones Study Guide

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Updated on Jul 15, 2011

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Studying Homophones Practice Exercises

Okay, let's start with clearing up some understandable confusion. There are homonyms and there are homophones. Are they the same thing? No. Are they similar? Yes. Simply put:

Homonyms are words that have the same spelling but different meanings. For example bear and mean. Bear can refer to "a big, furry animal" or the verb "to carry." Mean can be a "nasty attitude" or "average" in math terms.

Homophones are words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. (Those letters at the end, -phone, mean "sound," as in telephone and microphone.)

In this lesson, we'll take a closer look at homophones. For the most part, homophones are simpler, but since they often get confusing, it is important to get a handle on them.

If you enjoy this lesson and cannot wait to do even more work with homophones, check out the Internet. You'll find websites that have quizzes, games, and many more resources about homophones. Have fun!

DEFINITIONS

allowed/aloud

  • allowed   (verb) (1) permitted or let have; (2) took into consideration
  • aloud   (adverb) to vocalize or say for others to hear

band/banned

  • band   (noun) a company of persons joined together, a group of musicians; (verb) to unite together
  • banned   (noun) prohibited by law; (verb) prohibited or barred

billed/build

  • billed   (adjective) having a bill or beak; (noun) an itemized statement of fees or charges
  • build   (verb) to construct by assembling parts or materials, to establish, increase, or strengthen; (noun) the physical structure of a person

browse/brows

  • browse   (verb) to eat or graze, to look through or glance at casually
  • brows   (noun) the facial hair above the eyes

cymbal/symbol

  • cymbal   (noun) a plate of brass or bronze that produces a sharp, ringing sound when struck; an instrument that is often part of a drum set
  • symbol   (noun) something used for or regarded as representing something else such as a letter, figure, word, phrase, or image

discreet/discrete

  • discreet   (adjective) judicious or careful in one's conduct and speech, especially in regard to privacy or silence about a secret
  • discrete   (adjective) apart or detached from others, separate or distinct

discussed/disgust

  • discussed   (verb) talked over or wrote about
  • disgust   (verb) a strong disapproval or revulsion; (noun) nausea, repugnance

gorilla/guerilla

  • gorilla   (noun) the largest of the anthropoid apes
  • guerilla   (noun) a member of an irregular military or paramilitary group

horse/hoarse

  • horse   (noun) a large, solid-hoofed quadruped used for carrying people and loads
  • hoarse   (adjective) having a husky, harsh voice, sometimes due to temporary illness

idle/idol/idyll

  • idle   (adjective) not working or active, not in use or operation, frivolous or meaningless, having no basis or reason, groundless or futile; (verb) to pass time doing nothing
  • idol   (noun) an image or other object representing a deity that is worshipped, a person regarded with blind admiration, a figment of the mind or fantasy
  • idyll   (noun) a poem or prose, an episode of charm

incite/insight

  • incite   (verb) to stir, urge on, or prompt to action
  • insight   (noun) a sudden understanding of the true nature of something, an intuitive understanding often used in psychology

lessen/lesson

  • lessen   (verb) to reduce or make smaller
  • lesson   (noun) something to be learned or studied, a section of a course of study or part of a book or exercise

morning/mourning

  • morning   (noun) the first part of the day, usually from dawn until noon; (adjective) pertaining to or occurring in the hours before noon
  • mourning   (noun) the act of someone grieving or sorrowing, the outward symbols of sorrow; (adjective) describing the act of grieving

pair/pear/pare

  • pair   (noun) this word has more than twenty definitions in some resources but for now, let's stick with just two: two identical or similar things that are matched for use together; two individuals who are associated in some way, a couple
  • pear   (noun) a kind of fruit, comes in multiple varieties
  • pare   (verb) to cut off the outer layer, remove by cutting

stationary/stationery

  • stationary   (adjective) standing still and not moving, a fixed position
  • stationery   (noun) writing paper, writing materials

tracked/tract

  • tracked   (verb) followed the trail of, observed the progress of, followed; carried on one's shoes
  • tract   (noun) an expanse of land or other region; a brief publication of spiritual sayings

verses/versus

  • verses   (noun) stanzas or sections of poetry or music
  • versus   (preposition) against or in contrast to

weather/whether

  • weather   (noun) the state of the atmosphere (wind, temperature, precipitation, pressure, etc.) in a given place at a given time; (verb) to expose to the weather; to bear up against something and survive it
  • whether   (conjunction) used to introduce the first of two or more alternatives

whirled/world

  • whirled   (verb) revolved rapidly, rotated, or spun quickly

[Take a moment and picture the bumper sticker "Imagine whirled peas." Chuckle softly. Okay, back to work.]

  • world   (noun) the earth and all the people, places, and things inhabiting it

[Now picture that bumper sticker as saying "Imagine world peace." What a difference a homophone makes!]

whine/wine

  • whine   (verb) to utter a cry or sound of unhappiness, irritation, or complaint; (noun) a peevish or cranky complaint
  • wine   (noun) a drink made from the juice of fermented grapes

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Studying Homophones Practice Exercises

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