Unit 2: How to learn homophones

homophones - learn to spell similar sounding words Homophones are words that sound the same but have different spellings and different meanings, for example:

Tips, help learning English spelling Tips, help learning English spelling
meat meet

These words are called homophones from the Greek words homo (meaning same) and phonos (meaning sound). Some other examples:

die / dye flair / flare hole / whole paws / pause threw / through

Sometimes it is hard to remember which spelling to use because

  • Both words look right - they are both real words.
  • Both words sound the same - so the sounds won't help you.

So how can you remember which word is which? Try inventing a mnemonic to help fix the correct word in your memory. For example:

1. Link the words with others that you know:

hear - with your ears

here - a place
Did you hear that strange noise?

Don't put it here, put it over there.
Learning tip to help your spelling
1) You hear with your ears

2) Here is a place - like there and where:

"We seek him here, we seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere."
from 'The Scarlet Pimpernel'
Tips, help learning English spelling
Tips, help learning English spelling


2. Look at the letter that is different. Think of a link that helps you remember the meaning. Draw pictures and write the words in a cross, like this:

Tips, help learning English spelling Tips, help learning English spelling

leek - vegetable

leak - let out liquid
Leeks taste a bit like onions.

The broken tap is leaking.
Learning tip to help your spelling 1) Leeks are green.
2) The tap leaks with water
Tips, help learning English spelling

current -
1) flow of eg. water
2) ongoing, in use

currant - small dried grape

1) The river had a strong current.
2) Read about current events in the paper.

This cake is full of currants.
Learning tip to help your spelling Think of
1) river with e and current with e Tips, help learning English spelling

2) cake with a and currant with a -
or think of the currants in the cake as being ants.
Tips, help learning English spelling

3. Look for small words within the main word:

peace - opposite of war

piece - part, section
If the baby is asleep there is peace and quiet.

Don't eat it all, leave me a piece.
Learning tip to help your spelling A piece of pie Tips, help learning English spelling


In each of the examples above, you had to target the letters that were different and think of a way to remember which word had which meaning.

Your turn now. Look at these two words:

Tips, help learning English spelling Tips, help learning English spelling
beech - a tree beach - sand by the sea

Imagine you want to teach someone which word is which.
How would you do it? To see if you are thinking of the same mnemonic as the author, click here.

Each section of the Spellzone program targets one sound and finishes with homophones for that sound. In many cases, ideas for mnemonics are given, to help you remember which word is which.

To see some more examples, click here.

Free English spelling learning course help Finally - Don't be embarrassed about being a poor speller!  Some of the most intelligent, creative and talented people have been dreadful spellers.

These tips will have given you a 'taster' of what the 'Spellzone' course can offer. For access to the full course, with over 450 pages of teaching tips, spelling rules and practice exercises, register here. Or try another free unit:

Entry to the rest of the spelling course is by subscription, at a very low cost

next part of the spelling course Find out how to access all of Spellzone.

Registered users: move on to Unit 3!
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Unit 2: Learning tips, how to improve your spelling

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