Are You Homophonic?


No thanks - I'll keep my clothes on, if you don't mind!

If you are, you’d better watch out.

And if you want your work to be taken seriously, you’d better be extra careful. It’s no good working hard on some great content for your blog or website if a carelessly included homophone turns it into a joke – unless it’s meant to be funny.

So what are homophones?

They are two words which are often spelt differently but which sound the same and have completely different meanings – like aloud (able to be heard, not silently) and allowed (permitted). 

Here are some actual bloopers I was recently able to catch and correct before they ended up in the pages of the newspaper I work for: 

“Mariah is forced to see her junkie father and sister destroy their lives with their heroine and painkiller addictions.”
There was nothing heroic about this. The word needed here was heroin. 

“The grizzly family murder has reinforced the calls for the courts to be more strict when granting bail to people accused of murder and other serious or violent crimes.”
No bears were to blame for this horrific crime. The word needed here was grisly. 

“With the popular German team in town, the German Club Restaurant in Lorraine is expecting 500 people after the game, and have even constructed a marquis for the large number of visitors.”
I don’t know how or why the club staff were planning to construct a nobleman for this event!  The reporter obviously meant a marquee – a large tent specially erected for an outdoor event.

“Truth be told, the music industry is waiting with baited breath for the next big thing to emerge from the Eastern Cape.”
This reporter meant bated breath, of course. 

Here are several more to watch out for:

Dyed and died.
Bare and bear
Formally and formerly
Scene and seen
Won and one
and every day

Need help polishing your own prose – and avoiding embarrassing errors like these? Contact the Word Nerds at

Photograph by acme (Leon Brocard)

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This entry was posted by stevieg on Saturday, September 25th, 2010 at 3:18 pm and is filed under General, Tips & Tutorials . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nicolette Scrooby, Stevie Godson. Stevie Godson said: Are you homophonic? Better watch out, then […]

  2. Audiofoto says:

    Me read everyday, good information and practice for English. Thank You as is pleasure read your website.

    • stevieg says:

      That’s great. So glad you’re finding it useful. Don’t forget that here at Word Nerds, we’re happy to answer any specific questions, too.

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