and the Proper Use of Homophones
What do homophones have to do with correct grammar? Here we will
discuss one of the biggest mistakes you can make when using English in
speech or writing.
English Modal Verbs: check out our new series of illustrated workbooks!
What are homophones?
a tricky part of correct grammar. They are words that sound exactly the
same but are totally different in meaning.
They can even be spelled the same way, leading to even greater
- I got a great present (gift) for Christmas.
- Is the entire class present (here)?
- May I present (introduce), Mr. Robert Sutton!
Why is it important to correctly use homophones?
Some of the most commonly used homophones end up being some of the most common grammar mistakes
in the English language.
Homophones are a little confusing at first for ESL students,
but learning how to properly use homophones will help you:
- Avoid making common English grammar mistakes
- Give you confidence in your English
- Improve your overall understanding of the English language.
These homophones are some of the most difficult there are.
Going over the meanings and spellings of some of the more difficult
homophones, will help you to ensure that you do not make this common
English grammar mistake.
When we use the word "their," we are saying that something or someone
is related or belongs to them.
books are very heavy.
- My sisters have done their
This means that someone is speaking about a place. It can be
real, conceptual or even imaginary.
- She likes living there.
- Do they sell sunglasses there?
When "there" is used with any form of the verb to
, it also shows that something is present or that you are
talking about something for the first time.
are three birds living in our apple tree.
- Did you know that there is a
tiger in the zoo?
This is simply a short form for they
my best friends.
- Bob and Lisa? They're
brother and sister.
Two, too and to
The words two
, are also
homophones that many people have trouble with.
Going over these homophones will ensure that you will use correct
This is the one that's easiest, because it always means number
The easiest way to know if you are using this correctly is to
substitute the word "two" for "2." If the sentence makes sense, it's a
- I have two
eyes, ears, hands and feet.
- It's more fun when it's just the two of us.
There are two (2) ways to use this word:
1. More (and worse because of that).
- She ate too
much candy, and had a stomach ache.
- The music is too
2. To mean also
or in addition
If you can substitute the word "also" for "too," you are using this
- Do you want to go swimming, too?
- That's Lyndsay's sweater too.
There are also two (2) ways to use the word "to."
1. As a preposition
(which connects nouns
to other words in a complete sentence) before a noun. It is used to
show direction or destination.
- Yes, I am going to the
- Hand it to
2. We also use "to" before the base form of a verb to make infinitives
- I want to
- I need to
use the bathroom.
So now you know how to identify and properly use two commonly misused
homophones, a very well-known grammar problem.
Correct grammar is very important, and should become easier and easier
for you, the more you understand and practice. Now let's try
homophones correctly! When in doubt, you can always use a good English dictionary