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How to Write Clear, Readable, Effective Sentences that Readers Love!
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A Cheat Sheet of Common HOMONYMS

HOMONYMS are English words that sound alike but differ in meaning. The spelling of there for their, cite for sight, etc., are errors common in composition. This word homonyms comes from the Greek language, and means the "same name."

It is necessary to know such words apart, so as to distinguish carefully between them. The following list defines the correct form of these words in most common use. In studying the following homonyms, familiarize yourself with the words themselves, and with their differences in meaning. As you pronounce each word, spell it, and illustrate its meaning in a sentence.

(We also have a Cheat Sheet of HOMOGENEOUS WORDS.)

v. Adds, joins
n. Adze, an axe

v. Ail, to be ill
n. Ale, malt liquor

a. All, everyone
n. Awl, a sharp tool

n. Altar, an erection for divine offerings
v. Alter, to make different

n. Analyst, one who analyses
n. Annalist, an historian who writes on the work of a society or learned body

n. Anchor, of a ship
n. Anker, a liquid measure; a cask

n. Ant, an insect
n. Aunt, a father's or mother's sister

prefix. Ante, before
prefix. Anti, against

n. Arc, part of a circle
n. Ark, a chest; a large floating vessel

n. Ascent, going up; rising ground
v. Assent, an agreement

v. Ate, did eat
a. Eight, twice four

n. Auger, a boring tool
v. Augur, a sign of something to come, esp. something important or bad

n. Aught, anything
v. Ought, should

n. August, name of a month
a. August, noble


a. Bad, not good
v. Bade, did bid

n. Bail, a surety
n. Bale, a bundle of goods

n. Ball, a dance entertainment
n. Ball, a round body
v. Bawl, to speak very loud

a. Bare, naked
n. Bear, an animal
v. Bear, to carry

v. Bark, dog's cry
n. Bark, outer rind of a tree
n. Barque, kind of ship

a. Base, mean
n. Base, the lower part
n. Bass, the lowest part of a tune

v. Bate, to lower (one's price)
n. Bait, an allurement
v. Bait, to prepare or offer an allurement

n. Bay, a color; a tree
n. Bey, a governor; Turkish title

v. Be, to exist
n. Bee, an insect

n. Beach, the seashore
n. Beech, a tree

n. Bean, a plant tart.
v. Been, of the verb "to be"

v. Beat, to strike
n. Beet, a plant

n. Beau, A man who is the lover of a girl or young woman
n. Bow, an instrument to shoot arrows

n. Beer, malt liquor
n. Bier, a stand to support a corpse or a coffin prior to burial

n. Bell, a sounding instrument
n. Belle, a fine young lady

n. Berry, a small fruit
v. Bury, to inter

n. Birth, coming into life
n. Berth, a job in an organization

v. Blew, did blow
a. Blue, a color

n. Boar, a male swine
v. Bore, to make a hole

n. Board, a thin plank
n. Board, maintenance in food for payment
v. Bored, did bore

n. Bough, a branch
v. Bow, to bend

n. Boy, a lad
n. Buoy, an anchor mark

n. Brake, a thicket
v. Break, to part or sever

n. Bread, food made of flour or meal part.
v. Bred, brought up

v. Brews, does brew
v. Bruise, to crush or hurt

v. Broach, to tap, to enter upon
n. Brooch, an ornamental pm

n. Burrow, a hole in the earth
n. Borough, an incorporated town

conj. But, only
n. Butt, a large cash

v. Buy, to purchase
prep. By, near


v. Call, to name
n. Caul, a membrane

n. Cannon, an engine of war
n. Canon, a law or rule
n. Canon, a church dignitary

n. Cask, a vessel
n. Casque, any armor for the head

v. Cast, to throw
n. Caste, a social class

v. Cede, to give up
n. Seed, part of a plant

n. Ceiling, covering of the inner roof
v. Sealing, pres. part, of " to seal"

n. Cell, a small close room
v. Sell, to dispose of

n. Cellar, a vault
n. Seller, one that sells

n. Censer, a vessel to burn incense in
n. Censor, a Roman officer; faultfinder

n. Cent, a copper coin
n. Scent, odor
v. Sent, did send

v. Cere, to cover with wxt
v. Sear, to burn
a. Sere, withered; dry
n. Seer, a prophet; one that sees (into the future)

a. Cereal, relating to corn
n. Serial, a periodical publication (the parts following each other in a series)

n. Cession, surrender, giving up
n. Session, a sitting

n. Check, restraint
n. Cheque, a money order

n. Choler, anger, wrath
n. Collar, neck-band

v. Cite, to summon
n. Sight, perception
n. Site, situation

n. Clause, part of a sentence
n. Claws, nails of an animal

v. Climb, to ascend
n. Clime, climate

a. Coarse, not fine
n. Course, race
n. Corse, a dead body

n. Complement, the full number or quantity
n Compliment, expression of appreciation, praise

n. Concert, a musical entertainment; agreement
n. Consort, a companion

n. Cord, a thin rope
n. Chord, a string of a musical instrument

n. Core, the central part
n. Corps, a body of men

n. Counsel, advice
n. Council, an assembly for consultation

n. Cousin, a relation
v. Cozen, to cheat

v. Creak, to make a harsh sound
n. Creek, a small inlet of the sea

n. Crews, sailors
v. Cruise, to sail about

n. Currant, a shrub and its fruit
n. Current, a stream


v. Dam, obstruct with, or as if with, a dam
n. Dam, Female parent of an animal especially domestic livestock
v. Damn, to condemn, to curse

n. Day, twenty-four hours
n. Dey, a Moorish governor
v. Daze, to dazzle

a. Dear, costly
n. Deer, a forest animal

n. Decease, death
n. Disease, malady

v. Demean, to behave
n. Demesne, manor house and land adjacent

n. Descent, declivity
n. Dissent, disagreement

v. Desert, to leave behind
n. Dessert, a dish served as the last course of a meal

n. Dew, a vapor
a. Due, owing

n. Die, a stamp (in coining); a cube (in gaming, and in architecture)
v. Die, to lose life, to cease to exist
v. Dye, to stain, to color (especially cloth materials)

a. Divers, several, many
a. Diverse, varied, turned aside

n. Doe, a female deer; also used of similar animals such as reindeer, antelope, goat
n. Dough, unbaked paste

n. Dose, as much medicine as is taken at once
v. Doze, to slumber

v. Done, performed, completed
n. Dun, dull brown color

n. Draft, a bill
n. Draught, a drink

n. Dram, a glass of spirits
n. Drachm, the eighth part of an ounce

E - F

n. Ewe,
n. Yew, see Yew
pron. You, second person pronoun; the person addressed

a. Fain, eager, pleased, gladly
n. Fane, a temple
v. Feign, to dissemble, to pretend

a. Faint, weak and likely to lose consciousness
v. Feint, deceive by a mock action

a. Fair, beautiful, honest
n. Fair, a market
n. Fare, hire, diet

n. Feat, an exploit
n. Feet, plural of "foot"

v. Find, to discover
v. Fined, made to pay for breaking a rule or law

n. Fir, a tree
n. Fur, soft hair

n. Flea, an insect
v. Flee, to escape

n. Flour, ground wheat
n. Flower, the blossom of a plant

n. Flue, a passage (for smoke or heat)
v. Flew, did fly

n. Fool, senseless person
a. Full, opposite to empty

a. Fore, in front
a. Four, twice two

n. Fort, a fortified place
n. Forte, that in which one excels

a. Forth, out, abroad
a. Fourth, numeral

a. Foul, unclean
n. Fowl, a bird

v. Freeze, to congeal
n. Frieze, coarse cloth; an architectural term

n. Furs, plural of "fur"
n. Furze, a shrub


n. Gage, a pledge
v. Gauge, to measure the contents of a cask

n. Gait, manner of walking
n. Gate, an entrance

v. Gild, to cover with gold
n. Guild, a society or union

part. Gilt, with gold
n. Guilt, wickedness

n. Grate, a fire-place
a. Great, large

n. Groan, a deep sigh
v. Grown, increased

n. Guest, a person entertained
v. Guessed, did guess


n. Hair, of the head
n. Hare, an animal

a. Hale, sound, robust
n. Hail, little masses of ice falling from the clouds
v. Hail, to call to
v. Hail, a term of salutation

n. Hall, entrance of a house, a large room
v. Haul, to drag

n. Hart, an animal
n. Heart, the scat of life

v. Heal, to cure
n. Heel, hind part of the foot

n. Herd, a flock
v. Heard, did hear

adv. Here, in this place
v. Hear, to listen to

v. Hew, to cut
n. Hue, shade of color
n. Hugh, a man's name

v. Hie, to hasten
a. High, lofty

pron. Him, objective case of " he"
n. Hymn, a sacred song

n. Hire, wages
a. Higher, farther up

n. Hole, a hollow place
a. Whole, entire, complete

n. Horde, a wandering tribe or body of persons
n. Hoard, a secret store of valuables or money


pron. I, myself
n. Eye, the organ of sight
ad. Ay, yes

a. Idle, doing nothing
n. Idol, an image, or false god
n. Idyl, a poem

prep. In, within
n. Inn, house of entertainment

v. Indite, to compose, dictate
v. Indict, to accuse by a jury, to charge

a. Invalid, having no force
n. Invalid, someone who is incapacitated by a chronic illness or injury
n. Isle, an island
n. Aisle, a passage in a church

n. Kernel, fruit within a shell
n. Colonel, commander of a regiment

J - K

n. Jam, preserved fruit
n. Jamb, the side piece of a door, fire-place

n. Key, an instrument to fasten and open locks
n. Quay, a wharf

v. Kill, to put to death
n. Kiln, a furnace for firing or burning or drying such things as porcelain or bricks


v. Lack, to want
n. Lac, resinlike substance secreted by certain lac insects; used in e.g. varnishes and sealing wax

n. Lane, an alley
v. Lain, p. part, of lie, rested

n. Laps, plural of " lap"
v. Laps, lie partly over or alongside of something or of one another
v. Lapse, to fall away, slip by
n. Lapse, flow, passing

n. Lea, meadow
n. Lee, the side of something that is sheltered from the wind

n. Lead, a metal
v. Led, did lead

n. Leaf, part of a plant
ad. Lief, readily, willingly

v. Leak, to let out [liquid)
n. Leek, a herb

v. Lessen, to make less
n. Lesson, a portion of a book learned

n. Levee, assembly of visitors
v. Levy, to raise money or troops

n. Liar, one that tells lies
n. Lyre, a musical instrument

n. Lie, falsehood
v. Lie, to recline
n. Lye, a liquor

n. Limb, a member
v. Limn, to paint

n. Lineament, outline
n. Liniment, ointment

n. Links, (of a chain), plural of link
n. Lynx, an animal

a. Literal, according to the letter
a. Littoral, belonging to a shorten

j. Lo, behold
a. Low, opposite of high


n. Mail, a postman's bag of letters and packages
a. Male, masculine

a. Main, chief, principal
n. Mane, of the horse

n. Mantel, a shelf over a fire-place
n. Mantle, a cloak

n. Marshal, a law officer having duties similar to those of a sheriff
v. Marshal, to arrange
a. Martial, pertaining to war

n. Maze, an intricate arrangement, a labyrinth
n. Maize, Indian wheat

n. Mead, a sweet drink
n. Meed, reward

a. Mean, wanting dignity; low
v. Mean, to intend
n. Mien, external appearance

n Meat, flesh for food
a. Meet, suitable, becoming
v Meet, to encounter
v. Mete, to measure

n. Medal, a piece of metal struck like a coin
v. Meddle, to interfere

n. Meddler, one who interposes officiously
n. Medlar, name of a tree

n. Message, advice or information sent
n. Messuage, ground on which a house stands

n. Metal, a hard substance
n. Mettle, spirit, vivacity

n. Meter, a measuring instrument
n. Metre, verse

n. Miner, one who digs for minerals
a. Minor, under age; smaller

n. Mite, a very small insect
n. Might, power
v. Might, past tense of " may'

v. Moan, to utter a deep sound from pain, to lament
v. Mown, cut down

n. Moat, a ditch round a fortified place
n. Mote, a particle

n. Muscle, flesh (of the body)
n. Mussel, a shell fish


n. Nave, middle of a church, or of a wheel
n. Knave, a rogue
[a. Naive, ingenious, is pronounced na-ev]

ad. Nay, no
n. Neigh, the voice of a horse

n. Need, want
v. Need, to require
v. Knead, to work dough

a. New, opposite of old
v. Knew, did know

n. Night, opposite of day
n. Knight, a person that has received a certain title of honor
n. Nose, the organ of smell
v. Knows, does know

n. Nun, a female recluse
a. None, not one, not any


intj. Oh, exclamation of surprise or pain
v. Owe, to be indebted

n. Oar, an instrument to rowboats
prep. O'er, over
n. Ore, a metal as found in combination with some other substance

n. Ode, a poem
v. Owed, did owe

prep. Of, from, concerning
adv. Off, noting distance

a. One, single, an individual
v. Won, gained, achieved

pronoun. Our, belonging to us
n. Hour, 60 minutes


n. Pail, a vessel
a. Pale, destitute of color

n. Pain, suffering
n. Pane, of glass

n. Pair, a couple
v. Pare, to cut off the surface
n. Pear, a fruit

n. Palate, the organ of taste
n. Palette, a painter's mixing pl.ite
n. Pallet, a bed

n. Pause, a stop, a delay
n. Paws, the feet of an animal

n. Peace, quietness
n. Peas, plural of "pea"
n. Pease, collective plural of "pea"
n. Piece, a part, fragment

n. Peak, top
n. Pique, ill-will

n. Peal, succession of sounds
n. Peel, rind of fruit
v. Peel, to take off the rind

n. Peer, a nobleman
n. Pier, a projecting wharf; a support of a bridge

n. Pendant, a flag; an earring
a. Pendent, hanging down

n. Phrase, a mode of speech; an expression
n. Frays, quarrels, plural of "fray''

n. Place, rank, room, space
n. Plaice, kind offish

a. Plain, simple
n. Plain, level country
n. Plane, a joiner's tool; level surface

n. Plait, fold
n. Plate, wrought silver
n. Plate, a shallow vessel

v. Please, to gratify, to delight
n. Pleas, law suits, allegations

n. Plum, a fruit
a. Plumb, perpendicular

n. Pole, a long, narrow, roundish piece of timber
n. Poll, the head; register of voters, or act of voting

v. Pore, to look closely and steadily
n. Pore, an opening (in the shin)
v. Pour, to cause to flow

n. Practice, habit, use
v. Practice, to exercise

v. Pray, to beseech
n. Prey, plunder, booty

v. Prays, does pray
n. Praise, laudation, renown

n. Precedent, former instance of a like kind
n. President, a presiding officer

a. & n. Principal, chief, capital
a. Principle, a settled truth

n. Prize, reward
v. Prize, to set value on
v. Pries, looks inquisitively into

n. Profit, gain, benefit
n. Prophet, one who foretells future events

n. Prophecy, a prediction
v. Prophesy, to predict


n. Quartz, a kind of rock
n. Quarts, plural of "quart" (a measure)

n Quire, 24 sheets of paper
n. Choir, a body of singers


n. Rain, water falling from the clouds
v. Reign, to rule
n. Rein, strap of a bridle

v. Raise, to lift
n. Rays, plural of "ray" {of 'light)
v. Raze, to obliterate

v. Rap, knock
n. Wrap, to envelop

n. Red, a color
v. Read, to peruse
n. Reed, a plant

n. Rear, the part behind
a. Rare, uncommon

v. Reck, to care
n. Wreck, breaking to pieces, distraction

n. Rest, a pause for relaxation
n. Rest, the others
v. Wrest, to pull violently away

n. Right, anything in accord with principles of justice
n. Rite, any customary observance or practice
v. Write, to communicate by letter

n. Rime, hoarfrost
v. Rhyme, similarity of sound in endings of verses of poetry

v. Ring, make sound as a bell
n. Ring, a circle
v. Wring, to press, squeeze hard, extort

n. Road, highway
v. Rode, did ride
v. Rowed, did row

n. Roe, the eggs or egg-laden ovary of a fish
v. Row, to propel with an oar
n. Row, a line, rank

n. Root, the end of a plant fixed in the ground
n. Route, direction or road in which one goes

n. Rye, grain
a. Wry, crooked


n. Sail, a sheet of canvas
v. Sail, as a ship
n. Sale, act of selling

n. Satire, poignant language
n. Satyr, a monster

v. Scull, to propel a boat (in a particular way)
n. Skull, the bony case of the brain

n. Sea, ocean
v. See, to perceive by the rye
n. See, the seat within a bishop's diocese where his cathedral is located

n. Seam, a joining
v. Seem, to appear

v. Seen, beheld
n. Scene, view

a. Sere, (used especially of vegetation) having lost all moisture
n. Seer, an observer who perceives visually
v. Sear, make very hot and dry
n. Cere, the fleshy, waxy covering at the base of the upper beak of some birds

v. Sew, to connect with thread
v. Sow, to scatter seed

v. Shear, to cut, or clip
ad. Sheer, completely
a. Sheer, pure, complete; perpendicular, or unbroken

n. Size, magnitude
n. Size, weak glue
n. Sighs, plural of " sigh"

n. Sleight, artful trick
a. Slight, thin, trifling

n. Sloe, a berry
a. Slow, opposite of quick

v. Soar, to mount on the wing
n. Sore, an ulcer

n. Sole, of the shoe.
n. Sole, a flat fish
n. Soul, the immortal part of man

v. Soled, furnished with a sole
v. Sold, did sell

a. Some, indefinite quantity or number
n. Sum, an amount

n. Son, a male child
n. Sun, the luminary that enlightens the earth

n. Stake, a wager; a stick
n. Steak, a slice of flesh

v. Stare, to look with fixed eyes
n. Stair, a step; series of steps

a. Stationary, fixed, settled
n. Stationery, articles sold by a stationer

n.. Statue , (of metal or stone), an image
n. Statute, law

v. Steal, to take unlawfully
n. Steel, refined iron

n. Stile, steps for passing over a fence
n. Style, manner
v. Style, to design

a. Straight, not crooked
a. Strait, narrow
n. Strait, a narrow pass (of water), a difficulty

n. Surplice, a clergyman's white robe
n. Surplus, excess

a. Sweet, pleasant to the taste
n. Suite, followers, attendants
n. Suite, a set of rooms

n. Sword, a weapon
v. Soared, did soar


n. Tacks, small nails
n. Tax, tribute

n. Tail, tin hinder part of anything
n. Tale, a narrative

n. Team, animals drawing together
v. Teem, to be full of

v. Tear, to rend
n. Tare, a weed

n. Teas, kinds of tea
v. Tease, to torment, to vex

pronoun. Their, belonging to them
adv. There, in that place

v. Threw, did throw
prep. Through, passing from side to side of

n. Thyme, a fragrant plant
n. Time, a part of duration

n. Tier, a row (of guns, seats)
n. Tear, from the eye

prep. To, toward
ad. Too, also
a. Two, one and on*

n. Toe, part of the foot
n. Tow, coarse flax or hemp
v. Tow, to pull along

n. Ton, the weight of 2000 pounds
n. Tun, a large cask

n. Trait, a feature of one's character
n. Tray, a shallow trough-like vessel

U - V

v. Use, to practice, to apply in some purpose
n. Ewes, plural of ewe

a. Vain, empty, conceited
n. Vane, flat surface that rotates and pushes against air or water
n. Vein, a blood vessel

n. Vale, a valley
n. Veil, a thin covering


v. Wade, to walk through water
v. Weighed, did weigh

n. Waist, part of the body
v. Waste, to consume uselessly

v. Wane, to decrease
n. Wain, a wagon

v. Waive, to relinquish
n. Wave, a billow

n. Ware, merchandize
v. Wear, to have on the body

n. Way, passage, manner
v. Weigh, to poise
n. Whey, the thin part of milk

a. Weak, feeble
n. Week, seven days

n. Weald, a wooded country
v. Wield, to handle

n. Weather, state of the atmosphere
n. Wether, male sheep
c. Whether, if (implying two alternatives, usually)

v. Ween, to think, to suppose
v. Wean, to accustom (a child) to do without something

n. Weight, heaviness
v. Wait, to stay

a. Wet, containing water, rainy
v. Whet, to sharpen

pron. Which, relating to things
n. Witch, a woman who practices sorcery
v. Witch, to charm

ad. Whither, to what place
v. Wither, to fade, to waste away

n. Wood, timber
v. Would, was willing


n. Yew, an evergreen tree
pron. You, yourself
n. Ewe, a female sheep

n. Yoke, couple, bondage
n. Yolk, the yellow part of an egg

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