Some words sound very much the same, but have different spellings. We call these words homophones. An example of this would be their and there. Though most speakers pronounce these words exactly the same way, these two words have completely different meanings. Their shows possession or ownership. There shows location. Knowing the difference between their and there isn’t really that important when you are speaking, but it is very important when you are writing. Things can get pretty confusing for readers when a writer chooses the wrong the word from a set of homophones.
Common Core State Standards specify that students have to master word choice. That means that a student must be able to recognize when the word steal should be used instead of the word steel, and literally hundreds of more pairs like steal and steel. So how can students get prepared for this? The same way that one gets to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice! To help with this, I’ve created a bunch of resources on homophones and word choice and posted them below.
Homonyms: Have the same spelling but different meanings.
Homographs: Have the same spelling but different pronunciations.
These terms can be quite confusing, but if you know the meanings of the word roots, it is actually quite easy to remember.
Homo means same, as in homosexual: a person attracted to members of the same sex.
Phone means sound, as in telephone: to sound across.
Homophones are words that sound the same but have different spellings.
Examples:hear and here.
Hear refers to the act of perceiving sound. Here describes a location or position.
Nym means name, as in pseudonym: a fake name.
Homonyms are words that have the same sound and the spelling, but different meanings.
Examples:ear and ear.
One refers to an ear of corn, the other to a human organ responsible for hearing.
Graph means writing, as in biography: life writing.
Homographs are words that have the same spelling, but different meanings and different pronunciations.
Examples:wind and wind.
One refers to a blowing breeze, while the other refers to the act of turning a crank.