Homophones and Homonyms Study Guide

Updated on Sep 20, 2011

Homophones and Homonyms

This lesson focuses on some common yet confusing words you're likely to use as you write and speak.

Do you know the difference between accept and except? How about duel and dual? Or the real show-stoppers, affect and effect? These are examples of some of the most commonly misused words. Sometimes people get confused because words such as these look similar, sound similar, and are often spelled similarly. Other times, the mistakes occur because the meanings of the words are just plain confusing. Whatever the cause of the confusion, you need to be able to use these words correctly if you want a strong vocabulary

Here are some categories of confusing words you need to use carefully in order to use them correctly:

  • Homophone. A word that's pronounced the same as another word but is different in spelling and meaning. Example: carrot and karat (the unit of measure for precious gems).
  • Homonym.A word that is either spelled or sounds the same as another word, but has a different meaning. Example: meet and meat.
  • Commonly Confused Words. There are many words that are frequently confused and used incorrectly. The confusion arises because the words use the same root, or sound similar, or have similar meanings.

Some Common Confusing Word Pairs

The following list shows some of the most common homophones and confusing word pairs, along with brief definitions. Memorize these words and their meanings. Using them correctly is the sign of an educated, word-powerful person.


The only sure way to know the definitions and differences between confusing words is to memorize them. So pay close attention to the chart above and do the exercises carefully. They'll help you learn the words permanently, so you can use them easily and correctly.

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Homophones and Homonyms Practice Exercises

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