Confusing English Words

There are many words with multiple meanings.  Some words are spelled the same and pronounced differently while others are spelled differently and pronounced the same.  The different types of multiple meaning are called homonyms, homophones, and homographs.

Homonyms

Words that have the same spelling and pronunciation, but have different meanings.

  • leaves: The children love to play in the leaves./They do not like when their father leaves for work.
  • net: What was your net gain for the year?/Crabbing is easier if you bring a net along.
  • point: The pencil has a sharp point./It is not polite to point at people.
  • right: You were right./Make a right turn at the light.
  • rose: My favorite flower is a rose./He quickly rose from his seat.
  • type: He can type over 100 words per minute./That dress is really not her type.
  • crane: That bird is a crane./They had to use a crane to lift the object./She had to crane her neck to see the movie.
  • date: Her favorite fruit to eat is a date./Joe took Alexandria out on a date.
  • engaged: They got engaged on March 7th./The students were very engaged in the presentation.
  • foil: Please wrap the sandwich in foil./They learned about the role of a dramatic foil in English class.

Homophones

Words that have the same pronunciation, but different spellings and meanings.

  • alter/altar
  • ate/eight
  • band/banned
  • blew/blue
  • boar/bore
  • buy/bye/by
  • canon/cannon
  • coarse/course
  • fair/fare
  • foul/fowl
  • genes/jeans
  • grate/great
  • hour/our
  • in/inn
  • knight/night
  • maize/maze
  • meddle/metal
  • no/know
  • nose/knows
  • pale/pail
  • rain/reign
  • red/read
  • role/roll
  • sea/see
  • their/there/theyre
  • veil/vale

Homographs

Words that are spelled the same, but have different pronunciations and meanings.

  • sewer: The rats crept through the sewer./She is a fine sewer.
  • wound: They wound up the toy as soon as they got it./She received a wound from the punch.
  • does: He does his homework every night./There were many does in the forest.
  • wind: The wind swept up the leaves./Wind the clock up before you go to bed.
  • sow: A sow is a female pig./We’ll sow the seeds in springtime.
  • read: She is going to read the book later./He read the book last night.
  • bass: They caught a bass./His voice belongs in the bass section.
  • bow: She put a bow in her daughter’s hair./Please bow down to the emperor.
  • minute: That is only a minute problem./Wait a minute!
  • learned: The class learned that information last week./He is a very learned individual.