Homonyms are perhaps the trickiest things in the English language.

They are words which sound the same, but have different meanings. They can even share the same spelling.

Being aware of them and getting lots of practise using them will certainly improve a child’s ability to become fluent in English.

Let’s look at a few homonyms –

air / heir

The first air is, of course, the air we breathe. the second one is the person who is going to inherit money or property when a relative passes away.

eye / I

These don’t get mixed up much, but they are a wonderful example of how difficult English can be. They have different spellings and meanings, but sound exactly the same!

brake / break

Now, these are two homonyms which are often confused. The first is a verb and a noun and refers to stopping a vehicle mostly. The second one means to smash or destroy something or someone’s heart.

Astro's Adventures Book Club
Homonyms can be tricky for new learners

cereal/ serial

Well, I love cereal for breakfast with milk; especially if it’s sweet and crunchy, but the other word refers to a set of items run in a successive and consecutive order – phew that’s a mouth full! So you might watch a television serial while eating cereal in the morning?

principal / principle

The first one is the head teacher at a school or professional business like a real estate agency or car yard. The second is a belief or a value you hold dear (not deer!) They are quite similar in spelling and have tripped many a studious student.

Here’s a pointer to help remember the spelling variations – a principal is you ‘pal’ (see it’s the last three letters). Remember that and you’ll never get them mixed up.

These are just a few examples. There are plenty of websites which hundreds more. Why not start your own collection and share it with your children? Or you could have a Homonym Contest to see who can find the most!


These helpful hints came from Susan Day’s Educational site – click here for more details


Homonyms can be tricky for new learners
%d bloggers like this: