English Homonyms

English Homonyms

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english homonyms

By: Smart Coos

English Homonyms

Learning a language is an intimidating task in and of itself, but even experienced speakers of a language often fall victim to commonly misused words in the twisted web of mispronunciations, misspellings, and homonyms, that language can be. To make it easier for new language learners avoid getting caught by these common mistakes. Here’s a short explanation of some commonly misused words in the English language to help you navigate through the web of English homonyms.



    Lie and Lay are two classically confusing words, tripping up even native speakers. The problem here can be solved by looking at context. Lay is used either to describe something, “The town lays at the bottom of the mountain” or as a verb that is being directed at something, “I’ll come in, just let me lay my umbrella down”. Lie is typically used as a verb directed towards the subject, such as “I’m tired, so I’m going to lie down.”

    Accept and Except may sound very similar but their meanings couldn’t be more different. Accept generally means to take or include; for example “We quickly accepted Annie into our group of friends”. Except, however, means quite the opposite, meaning to exclude or remove something, such as “We invited everyone to the movie except Annie.”

    Taught and Taut are two very different words, but are often confused because they sound so similar. Taught means to have information given to, for example “My dad taught me how to fish”. Taut, however, means that something is stressed or tight, such as “The fishing line was pulled so taut it almost snapped!”

    Bare and Bear are also homonyms with very different meanings. Bare typically means that something is naked or exposed. For example, one might say “I caught the ball with my bare hand!” Bear on the other hand, means either to endure something, or, of course, refers to the large furry animal: “When I was hiding from the bear that ran into my campsite, the anxiety became almost too much to bear.”

    Altogether and All Together are another tough pair of words for people of all levels. Altogether typically means entirely, such as saying “I gave up on smoking altogether.” All together is somewhat similar in meaning; it means that everything is grouped in one area. For example, “Please make sure that the children are all together before leaving on the trip!”

Learning these words and other tricky homonyms will help greatly in learning English and is useful even for people that have been speaking English for years. So, keep practicing and keep learning!

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