ENGLISH HOMOPHONES LIST & EXAMPLES - For ESL SPEAKERS

The Ultimate Homophones List – Record & Compare Your Pronunciation


A wise person once said ‘English spelling and pronunciation is CRAZY’. T
hey were right! English homophones highlight how variable English spelling and pronunciation is. These variations make pronunciation difficult for ESL speakers. 

What is a homophone? A homophone is a word that has the same pronunciation as another word but has different spelling and meaning. For example, ‘one’ and ‘won’ are pronounced the same (/wʌn/ in the IPA) but the have different spelling and different meanings. 

Did you know that ‘muscles’ and ‘mussels’ are pronounced exactly the same? And ‘crews’ and ‘cruise’? How can words that look so different be pronounced the same way? These are some of the many homophones in English that trap ESL speakers, and some of the many homophones that you will correct here today. 

English Homophone Exercises


T
est your pronunciation with this homophones practice page. Hear homophones and practice them out loud to check your pronunciation. Today you’ll correct over 100 homophone examples and download your English homophone pdf. 

To show how to pronounce homophones we use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The IPA are the symbols you see after the words in the brackets – like this/wʌn/. These IPA symbols tell us exactly which sounds to pronounce in each word. Don’t worry if you don’t know all the IPA symbols. Here is what you need to know about the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

Remember in the IPA the two dots /:/ means the vowel is long, remember that each IPA symbol represents a sound and this dash /’/ means the next syllable is stressed. 

English Homophone Examples With Short Vowels

Hear homophone word pairs and practice these English homophones sentences out loud with the recording tool. Listen and then record and compare your own pronunciation with the native speaker. 

While practicing the homophones in sentences, pay attention to the word stress, rhythm and emphasis

one  – won        /wʌn/

I won one. 

berry – bury        /ˈbe.ri/

I’ll bury the berry.

knot – not        /nɒt/

It’s not in a knot.

billed – build         /bɪld/
You build and I’ll review what we’ve been billed. 

English Homophones List – More Homophones examples with short vowels with IPA

/e/
berry – bury                 /ˈbe.ri/
bread – bred                /bred/
lead (n) – led               /led/
cell – sell                      /sel/
sent – scent – cent    /sent/
flex – flecks                 /fleks/
check – cheque          /tʃek/
weather-whether     /ˈwe.ðə/
guessed-guest         /ɡest/
effect–affect              /əˈfekt/
/æ/
ad – add                      /æd/
band – banned          /bænd/
wrap – rap                  /ræp/
tax – tacks                  /tæks/
packed pact              /pækt/
carat – carrot            /ˈkæ.rət/
/ʊ/
would – wood           /wʊd/
 /ʌ/
one – won                    /wʌn/
son – sun                      /sʌn/
none – nun                   /nʌn/
some – sum                 /sʌm/
muscles-mussels     /ˈmʌ.səlz/
/ɒ/
knot – not                     /nɒt/
what – watt                   /wɒt/
profit – prophet            prɒ.fɪt/
/ɪ/
him- hymn                /hɪm/
billed – build            /bɪld/
missed – mist           /mɪst/
which – witch           /wɪtʃ/
addition–edition    /əˈdɪ.ʃən 
illicit – elicit               /ɪˈlɪ.sɪt/

English Homophone Examples With Long Vowels

 

The homophones practice below are words that are traps for ESL speakers. Many non-native English speakers don’t realise that these words are homophones. 

It’s time to practice our loud to check these homophones pairs and English homophones sentences. 

Remember that each homophone pair in this section has a LONG vowel sound. So make sure you pronounce a long /u:/ vowel in crews and cruise, a long /i:/ vowel in sweet, suite, genes and jeans and a long ‘or’ vowel in pause and paws.  

Listen to the recording and then record your own speech to check your pronunciation of the two homophones sounds the same. 

crews – cruise        /kru:z/

The crews enjoyed the cruise. 

suite – sweet        /swiːt/

Each suite has sweets.  

genes – jeans         /dʒiːnz/     
I have my mother’s genes and a new pair of jeans 

pause – paws        /pɔːz/

The vet paused to check the cat’s paws. 

English Homophones List – More Homophone examples with long vowels with IPA. 

/i:/
be – bee                      /biː/
key – quay                  /kiː/
sea – see                     /siː/
seas– sees – seize   /siːz/
seam – seem             /siːm/
beat – beet                 /biːt/
bean – been              /biːn/
feet – feat                  /fi:t/
meat – meet             /miːt/
creak – creek            /kriːk/
weak – week            /wiːk/
peak – peek             /pi:k/
read – reed               /riːd/
steal – steel             /stiːl/
heal – heel               /hi:l/
scene – seen           /siːn/
teas – tease             /tiːz/
piece – peace         /piːs/
ceiling -sealing      /ˈsiː.lɪŋ/
sweet – suite         /swiːt/
genes – jeans       /dʒiːnz/
cereal – serial    /ˈsi:.ri.jəl/
/ɔː/
awe – oar – or                 /ɔː/
your – you’re                    /ː/
for – four                           /ː/
saw – sore – soar           /ː/
paw – pour – poor         /ː/
shore – sure                    /ʃɔː/
raw – roar                         /ː/
bored – board                 /bɔːd/
sort – sought                  /sɔːt/
caught – court                /kɔːt/
hall – haul                         /hɔːl/
sauce – source                /sɔːs/
horse – hoarse                 /hɔːs/
pause – paws                    /pɔːz/
morning-mourning    /ˈː.nɪŋ/
/u:/
to – too – two                    /tuː/
you – U – ewe                    /juː/
cue – queue                      /kju:/
threw – through               /θruː/
knew – new                        /njuː/
flew – flu                             /fluː/
blew – blue                        /bluː/
chews – choose              /tʃuːz/
crews – cruise                   /kruːz/
root – route (UK Aus)      /ruːt/
moose–mousse             /muːs
/ɜː/
heard – herd                       /hɜːd/
 
/a:/
passed – past                    /pɑːst/
aren’t–aunt (UK Aus)       /ɑːnt/
draft – draught                /dra:ft/

English Homophone Examples With Diphthong Vowels 


Many ESL speakers have difficulty with the words below because they have double vowels! Make sure you make two vowel sounds -/oʊ/ in rose, rows, thrown and throne, /eɪ/ in way, weigh, whey and /aɪ/ in sight and site. 

It often really helps learners to understand these are homophones. Many students say to me ‘I’ve been trying to say them differently all this time’ because they just didn’t realise they were homophones.

Listen to these homophone pairs and then record your own. When you listen to the homophones sentences, remember to pay attention to the pitch of the voice, the up and down. This is the way we mark the stressed syllables in each sentence. 

rose – rows        /roʊz/

Find a rose in the rows.

thrown – throne        /θroʊn/

It was thrown over the throne. 

way – weigh – whey     /weɪ/
Which way do we weight the whey?

sight – site            /saɪt/

There was a strange sight on the site. 

English Homophones List – More Homophone examples with diphthong vowels with IPA

See a homophone word list below of homophones with double / diphthong vowels.  

//
ate – eight  /eɪt/
way – weigh – whey  /weɪ/
pray – prey  /preɪ/
wait – weight  /weɪt/
waist – waste  /weɪst/
great – grate  /greɪt/
made – maid  /meɪd/
break – brake  /breɪk/
steak – stake  /steɪk/
rain – reign  /reɪn/
plain – plane  /pleɪn/
vein – vain – vane  /veɪn/
pain – pane  /peɪn/
base – bass  /beɪs/
phase – faze  /feɪz/
raise – rays  /reɪz/
faint – feint   /feɪnt/
sail – sale  /seɪl/
mail – male  /meɪl/
tail – tale  /teɪl/
bail – bale  /beɪl/
wail – whale  /weɪl/
/aɪ/
die – dye  /daɪ/
high – hi  /haɪ/
buy – by  bye    /baɪ/
bite – byte – bight  /baɪt/
night – knight       /naɪt/
right – write  /raɪt/
sight – site  /saɪt/
tide – tied  /taɪd/
side – sighed  /saɪd/
mind – mined  /maɪnd/
find – fined  /faɪnd/
I’ll – aisle – isle  /aɪl/
idle – idol  aɪ.dəl/ 
higher – hire    /ˈhaɪ.jə/
/oʊ/
know – no  /noʊ/
toe – tow  /toʊ/
so – sow (verb)  – sew  /soʊ/
soul – sole  /soʊl/
rose – rows  /roʊz/
knows – nose  /noʊz/
roll – role  /roʊl/
whole – hole  /hoʊl/
holy – wholly  holy  /ˈhoʊ.li/
loan – lone  /loʊn/
thrown – throne  /θroʊn/
road  rode  /roʊd/
wrote – rote  /roʊt/
grown – groan  /groʊn/
// 
bow (v) – bough  /baʊ/
foul – fowl  /faʊl/
allowed – aloud  /əˈlaʊd/
flower – flour  /ˈflaʊ.wə/
//
air – heir  //
pair – pear    /peər 
hair – hare  /h/
fair – fare    /feə/
stair – stare   /steə/
bare -bear  /beə/
there – they’re – their  /ðeə/
where – we’re  wear  /weə/
mare – mayor  /meə/
 
/ɪə/
hear – here  /hɪə/
tear (n) – tier  /tɪə/
dear – deer  /dɪə/
 
/ɔɪ/
boy – buoy  /bɔɪ/

English Homophone Examples That Are Longer Words


Now it’s time to practice English homophones that are multi-syllable words. Many non-native English speakers don’t realise that these are homophones and it really improves their pronunciation and confidence when they see that words like gorrilla – guerilla and kernal – colonel and career and Korea are prononced exactly the same way.

While some of these homophones are not words we use all the time, they are still quite common and many of my students say ‘Oh wow – all these years I have avoided using the word ‘colonel’ because I wan’t sure how to pronounce it’ and many say they didn’t understand that word when listening to others.

In these homophones, you need to pay attention to word stress and putting the emphasis on the right syllable in words.  

Many ESL speakers have difficulty with word stress. Improve your word stress with these word stress exercises.

As you hear homophones below, listen carefully to where I place the word stress. Pay attention to the up and down – or the ‘pitch’ of my voice. Focus on word stress in your own speech as you practice and record your pronunciation. 

English Homophones List – Longer word homophone examples with IPA 

 

Double check your word stress in each of the homophone examples below. Make sure you are getting the stress on the right syllable while you complete this English homophone practice. Remember that the /ˈ/ in the IPA tells you that the word stress is on the next syllable. 

 

career – Korea                             /kəˈrɪ.jə/
assistance – assistants              /əˈsɪs.tənts/
attendance – attendants           /əˈten.dənts/
patients – patience                    /ˈpeɪ.ʃəns/ 
colonel – kernel                         /ˈkɜː.nəl/
council – counsel                       /ˈkaʊnt.səl/
councillor  counsellor               /ˈkaʊnt.sə.lə/
gorilla – guerrilla                           /gəˈrɪ.lə/
principle – principal                   /ˈpeɪ.ʃəns/
marshal – martial                       /ˈmɑː.ʃəl/ 

Downloading the full homophone list below for English homophone practice will help you correct many words that are commonly mispronounced by ESL speakers.  

In my experience, the most commonly mispronouned English homophones are ‘career’ and ‘Korea’. Many ESL speakers mispronounce the word ‘career’. They put the word stress on the first syllable.  The word stress should be on the 2nd syllable – exactly the same as in the word ‘Korea’.

Don’t confuse these with ‘courier’ – which is not a homophone. Courier is pronounced /ˈkʊr.i.ər/. 

Download English Homophones pdf 

Would you like a English Homophones Word List pdf download? Here is the full English homphones list of over 100 English homophones. This list includes the most commonly mispronounced English homophones with the International Phonetic Alphabet IPA in a printable .pdf that you can download. 

This is the one of the most comprehensive English homphones lists available and it includes the IPA International Phonetic Alphabet for each homophone example. This homophones list includes all the homophones mentioned on this page and is split into sections for short vowels, long vowels, dipthong vowels and longer words.

This English homophones printable list is a great tool for ESL speakers. 

You should remember to pay attention to vowels and word stress as you go through the list.

For homophone practice with long vowels (you’ll see /:/ in the IPA), you should check you are making a long vowel and not a short vowel.

For homophones practice that have diphthong vowels, make sure you get two vowels in each diphthong vowel.

And importantly, for the homophones practice for multi-syllable words, pay attention to making good word stress in each homophone pair. 

Click the button below to download the English homophones pdf with IPA symbols. This is your full English homophones printable list for revising and improving homophones for clearer spoken English. 

Homophones and Your English Speaking Confidence

 

When people lack confidence with their spoken English it can really hold them back. It’s tiring and exhausting! 

Revising areas such as how to pronounce English homophones can really help.  The English pronunciation homophones exercises on this page can help people improve their speaking confidence through improved pronunciation skills. 

For many ESL students, covering homophones is an eye opener. We say something is an ‘eye-opener’ when it’s surprising. Many of them say to me ‘All these years and I’ve been trying to say those two words differently, and now I know that they are actually pronounced the same way!’

For example, many of my overseas students from non-English speaking backgrounds mispronounce words like ‘pause’ – they use the incorrect vowel sounds. It helps so much when they understand that ‘pause’ is exactly the same as ‘paws’.

It gives people confidence to know that they are pronouncing homophones correctly. 

Correcting your pronunciation of homophones with this English homphones list can make your English clearer and build your speaking confidence. You can be confident that you are pronouncing these words clearly and correctly. 

Here are answers to questions we’re often asked about English homophones examples: 

How to pronounce the word ‘homophone’?

The word ‘homophone’ is pronounced as /ˈhɒ.mə.foʊn/. The word stress is on the first syllable, the vowel in the 2nd syllable is the weak vowel schwa and the last vowel is the diphthong vowel /oʊ/. 

Why is English pronunciation and spelling more difficult than other languages? 

Spelling and pronunciation is more difficult in English than many other languages because English is not a phonetic language. This means that the way a word is spelled does not tell us exactly how to pronounce it. This makes English pronunciation a challenging area for many learners of English. The spelling and pronunciation are very variable. Words can look very different (eg suite and sweet) and be pronounced the same way! And similarly, words that look similar can be pronounced quite differently, for example, ‘cost’ and ‘post’. 

Why are there so many homophones in English?

English has more homophones than many other languages. This is mainly because over many, many year English has borrowed many words from other languages. Another reason is that the pronunciation of English words has changed quite a lot over time, while its spelling has changed very little. 

What is the difference between a homophone and a homograph?

Like many ESL speakers, you may have heard of homophones and homographs. Are you wondering what’s the difference between a homophone and a homograph? Here is a clear explanation with some examples. 

A homophone is a word that has the same pronunciation as another word but is spelled differently and has a different meaning. For example ‘toe’ and ‘tow’, ‘rows’ and ‘rose’, ‘there’ and ‘their’ and they’re’. 

A homograph is a word that has the same spelling as another word but has a different meaning. Homographs may be pronouced the same way or differently.

For example, homographs that are pronounced differently are: the verb ‘to wind’ and the noun ‘the wind’. The ‘i’ letter is pronounced differently in these two words. Homographs that are pronounced the same way are: the verb ‘to contact’ and the noun ‘a contact’. ‘Contact’ is pronounced the same way for both. 

Improve your pronunciation of homographs and homophones in sentences and conversations with a full Speech Active Course. 

Why is the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) helpful for learning homophones? 

The IPA is set of symbols where each symbol represents a speech sound or tells us where the word stress is. The IPA for English has 44 symbols. The dash /ˈ/ indicates that the next syllable is stressed. 

The IPA tells us the correct pronunciation of a word so it is very helpful when learning homophones. Look at homophones: crews & cruise – they look very different but if we look at the IPA – /kruːz/ – it tells us that the pronunciation is exactly the same for these homophones. 

Here is another example of how the IPA looks for the words ‘moose’ and ‘mousse’. See how this homograph looks in the IPA in the dictionary below. 

Do I need to learn all the IPA symbols?

No, I suggest you just learn the IPA symbols for the sounds that you have difficulty with. Try and identify which sounds are difficult for you and learn the IPA symbols for them. Also you remember that the two dots /:/ are a long vowel, when you see two vowel symbols it means it’s a double or diphthong, when you see this dash /’/ it means the next syllable is stressed. 

If you want to revise the IPA symbols for all the sounds in English, and also revise the pronunciation of all English vowels and consonants, you can do it here:

English Vowel Sounds with IPA Symbols.

English Consonant Sounds with IPA Symbols. 

How can I find out the IPA symbols in words? 

The best way to look up the IPA for an English word is using a good online dictionary. So next time you’re looking up how to pronounce a homophone I recommend the Cambridge Online Dictionary, it’s very reliable and easy to use. The IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) in the Cambridge online dictionary is excellent, you can see each IPA symbol and the word stress marked in. You can also click to hear the word pronounced in British and American style English. 

Thank you for visiting our homophones practice page. I hope it has helped you correct the English homophones that you use regularly. 

Here are some other helpful English Pronunciation resources that might help you:

English Word Stress Exercises: videos, audio and voice recorder exercises to help you improve your word stress and emphasis in English. 

Pronounce words like ‘comfortable’ & ‘restaurant’ like a native speaker. Pronouncing words with omitted syllables. 

Improve English Schwa Sound

Improve Consonant Clusters. Speakers of Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese, Cantonese and other south east Asian languages will find this page helpful. 

Checklist For Choosing Accent Reduction Training

Would you like more help with your English Pronunciation? Contact us to find out more about our English Pronunciation Courses. Our training is tailored specifically for speakers of your language background. See more about our course for speakers of your first language here – Speech Active Course List

See our course tour video below. 

Keep up the great work on improving your spoken English. 

Please contact us at Speech Active to talk more about how we can help you improve : )

Remember, a little bit here and there every day helps.

 

All the best

 

Georgie Harding

 

English Homophones List & Examples – Listen & Record

by

Georgie Harding has assisted thousands of people from all over the world with improving their clarity and spoken English skills. A Speech Pathology degree (BAppSc(SpPathand CELTA qualifications and over 15 years of experience providing 1:1, group and online training make Georgie a leader in her field.  

Georgie is the creator the world’s leading English Pronunciation online courses that are tailored to the language background of the student and presents regularly at Universities.

If you’ve ever met Georgie or completed her award winning courses you’ll know how passionate she is about helping people move forward with better spoken English and more confidence. 

Email: [email protected]
Linkedin: Georgie Harding 
Facebook: Speech Active 
Twitter: Speech Active

Share This