Have you ever wondered which variation of the word “bear” to use in a sentence? “Bear” can mean to carry or it can mean to tolerate. The word “bare” sounds like “bear” but it is spelled differently and the two have different meanings. These tricky words and many others like them are members of a group of words called homophones.

(K12reader also offers free, printable homophone worksheets)

Homophones fall under the umbrella of the term homonyms. Homonyms is a broad term for words that sound or are spelled the same but have different meanings. Let’s take a closer look at homophones.

What Are Homophones?

Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but they have different meanings and are usually spelled differently as well. They usually occur in groups of two but sometimes they can be three or four in a group. It’s important to recognize and identify the most common homophones because the spelling can change the entire meaning of a sentence! Here is a list of the most common homophones.

Examples of Homophones

air, heir aisle, isle
ante-, anti- bare, bear, bear
be, bee brake, break
buy, by cell, sell
cent, scent cereal, serial
coarse, course complement, compliment
dam, damn dear, deer
die, dye eye, I
fair, fare fir, fur
flour, flower hair, hare
heal, heel hear, here
him, hymn hole, whole
hour, our idle, idol
in, inn knight, night
knot, not know, no
made, maid mail, male
meat, meet morning, mourning
none, nun oar, or
one, won pair, pear
peace piece plain, plane
poor, pour pray, prey
principal, principle profit, prophet
real, reel right, write
root, route sail, sale
sea, see seam, seem
sew, so, sow sight, site
shore, sure sole, soul
some sum son, sun
stair, stare stationary, stationery
steal, steel suite, sweet
tail, tale their, there
to, too, two toe, tow
waist, waste wait, weight
way, weigh weak, week
wear, where

Let’s use a few in sentences:

Be careful around the figurines because they break easily.
Press gently on the brake to slow the car down.
We saw a grizzly bear while vacationing in the mountains.
I can’t bear this burden any longer.
The cupboards are bare.
The poor man only had one cent to his name.
I love the scent of gardenias.
That poem is very dear to me.
There were seven deer grazing in our pasture.
I hope my plants don’t die in this heat.
Rebecca wants to dye her hair purple.
The recipe calls for two cups of flour.
She put a single flower in the vase.
My hair is a mess!
Have you read the story about the tortoise and the hare?
Vegetarians do not eat meat.
Where shall we meet for lunch?
Let’s go buy a new pair of shoes.
The fruit contained a banana, an apple, and a pear.
My son is presently in the military.
The sun is hidden behind the clouds.
Katie went to town.
I want to go to town, too.
Why don’t the two of us go to town tomorrow?

Most people think homophones are pretty cool and they enjoy learning about them. While it’s fun to explore all the different meanings and spellings of these words, it’s best to concentrate on those that are used more often in writing such as:

ad, add ate, eight
aunt, ant be, bee
blew, blue buy, by, bye
cell, sell hear, here
hour, our its, it’s
know, no meet, meat
one, won their, there, they’re
theirs, there’s to, too, two
who’s, whose your, you’re

Master these and you’ll drastically reduce your chance of using the wrong words in your writing!