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What are Homophones and Homographs?

Updated on October 31, 2012

List of Homophones

  • board, bored
  • rain, reign
  • air, heir
  • allowed, aloud
  • ant, aunt
  • four, for
  • flower, four
  • stake, steak
  • bread, bred
  • toad, towed
  • to, two, too

What is a homophone?

Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings. Many young children or people who are not native English speakers are challenged by these words. An even deeper confusion sets in when they are asked to spell these words. Many times people who are just learning the ins and outs of the English language will spell a word one way, but want the meaning for a different spelling.

For example, while writing a story about being bored at his little sister's dance recital, a boy may write, I was board while I watched my sister's recital. When this sentence is read aloud, the meaning is clear, however, on paper the word that he refers to is one that means a flat piece of wood.

Books About Homophones and Homographs

List of Homographs

  • bat
  • feet
  • letter
  • sink
  • blue
  • bow
  • wound
  • wave

What is a homograph?

Homographs are words that are spelled the same, but have different meanings. The easiest way to distinguish which meaning of the word that one is referring to is by listening to the context in which it was given. If someone is talking about attending the fair then obviously that person is sharing a story about going to a carnival type of event and not about something being the same or equal for someone else.

Homographs tend to be much easier for children to understand when speaking. The verbal clues that are given while talking allow a child to comprehend what it is that the other person is talking about. However, the written word can be challenging for many. Without a sentence or some sort of guidance about the word, it is impossible to know the spelling for the word which would give a person the correct form of the word being presented.

Activities for Homophones and Homographs

So how can we teach our young students or English Language Learners the best way to understand and navigate through these words? Practice. There are many activities that you can do in your classroom to help your students understand these words.

  • Draw Pictures. Use both sides of an index card or divide a sheet of paper in half. Draw a picture of each homograph that is given. For example, draw a baseball bat one side and then a picture of the animal on the other.
  • Partner Search. Give students a homophone. Have that student act out or draw a picture of the word that he or she was given. Then have students try to partner up with the student that shares the homophone. For example, have one student hop around like a hare, while another student touches his or her hair.
  • Vocabulary Notebooks.Have students keep vocabulary notebooks. In the notebooks that can keep lists of homophones and homographs that they encounter, as well as draw pictures and write explanations.

Teaching homographs and homophones are just specific types vocabulary words and the connection between the words that you are teaching. Although there are times that they can be confusing, the teaching and learning of homophones and homographs can be very fun and rewarding.


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    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Michigan

      You are so welcome India! I appreciate your support and really miss you guys too! :)

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      5 years ago from Northern, California

      Another informative read from you. I learned a few things about Homophones and Homographs. Thanks for sharing your vast knowledge, Cara! I still miss you guys!


    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Michigan

      Lol, I think we talked about this right?

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      5 years ago from North Carolina

      So...still confused here. I get the 'letter' as in the mail...what is the other one, haha?

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks so much for your visit ruthclark3. It is a shame that so many native English speakers do not have a handle on how to speak and write effectively. Glad you enjoyed it.

      Give me a couple of days to get a letter in the mail to you with the explanation Mom! :) Hope you're having a great weekend! Ours has improved a bit.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      5 years ago from North Carolina

      Great info here, Cara...I love these and remember having fun learning them. But...I'm confused about the word, "letter" I know the noun letter...what is the other word? Thanks for sharing this Rated up/U

    • ruthclark3 profile image

      Ruth Clark 

      5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I'm glad to see this topic addressed. I see so much misuse of both these days and not just from young children. I was so fortunate to have had the teachers I had and to have a mother who took the time to read to me and provide books for me to read. It's sad to see college students who do not have a clue and English is their first language. A vote up for such a well written and timely subject.


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