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Homophones, Homographs, HomoWHAT?! The 20 Most Confusing Words in English Explained

Do you know your ‘bear’ from your ‘bare’? How about your ‘cereal’ from your ‘serial’? If you’re constantly getting confused by English words that look or sound the same, this post will set you straight. Discover how to spot the difference and perfect your English sentences in no time!

Your first step to understanding these tricky words is to learn a bit more about them. Identical-sounding words can belong to more than one group, and knowing which group to put them in can make them easier to learn. The overall term for these kinds of words is ‘homonyms’ but we can split them into two categories: homophones and homographs.

If you’re already scratching your head in confusion right now, don’t panic! Even the most advanced learners sometimes get stuck on similar-sounding words. Keep reading to discover how to use some of the most common homophones and homographs in English, and start communicating like a pro.


homo = same

phone = sound

A homophone is a word that is pronounced exactly the same as another word but has a different spelling, like meat (n) and meet (v).

Homophones are easy to spot when they’re written down because they actually look different, so try and make sure you learn the correct spelling of each word and not just their meaning.

It’s useful to dedicate a section of your vocabulary notebook just to homophones, so you can write them down in their pairs when you spot them. A little drawing to help you remember them is really helpful, too!

Task 1: Think about what pictures you would draw to help you remember the words below