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What is a homophone?

Updated: May 5, 2023

Not to be mistaken for homographs (words that are spelt and sound the same but have different meanings).

Homophones are words that sound like another word, but has a different meaning and spelling. These are one of the most common mistakes I come across when editing and proofreading, and unfortunately there is no easy way/ trick to ensure you are using the right one. A lot of the time, spell checker won't pick up on these errors.

Here are some examples of homophones:

Sea/ See , Bye/ By / Buy , Break / Brake , Here / Hear , Bored/ Board

Now, most of these may just seem like common knowledge to you. However, there are some homophones that are more commonly mistaken:

Piece / Peace

'A Piece of Paper' / 'Peace of Mind'

Stationery / Stationary

Office Equipment / A Motionless Object

Allowed / Aloud

'You're not allowed' / 'The music is being played aloud'

Rain / Reign

The weather / A royal rule

Plane / Plain

Airplane, aeroplane / An adjective to describe something simple/ undecorated

As I said, although there is no easy way to decipher between which word is right, it's important to be aware that there may be another spelling. These mistakes are easily noticed and could be making you look silly on social media, or more seriously could be the difference between you getting a job or not.

So, if you're unsure, double check!


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