English Online

Homophones - Words that Sound Alike but are Spelled Differently

Posted by The ginger Team | October 25th 2011

English spelling can be tricky in many ways. Homophones - words that sound the same, yet have a different English spelling - are a good source of frustration for people who are just learning the basics of English spelling, and even for people who are fluent and advanced.

As you can see in Ginger’s Spelling Mistakes Hall of Fame, many of our users’ commonly misspelled words are homophones. It’s not surprising that these words are confusing, as they sound the same. A good way to remember which is which is by making up a mnemonic device for each pair. Here is a list of some of Ginger’s most commonly misspelled words that are homophones. We took the liberty of adding some of our own mnemonic devices for them, we hope it will help your English spelling!

Principal vs. Principle

A principal is the head of a school. A principle is something you would insist on. When you’re in school, the principal is not your pal.

To, Two, or Too

To is a preposition. Two is the number following one. Too means also.

Foreword vs. Forward

A foreword is the introduction to a book. Forward is a direction. Fore is similar to before, and so it comes before the book.

Knight vs. Night

A knight is a man who served his sovereign or lord as a mounted soldier in armor. Night is what happens when the day is over. The K is shaped a little like a knight holding two swords.

Bald vs. Bawled

Bald means hairless. Bawled means yelled, or cried.

Mail vs. Male

Mail is what you receive in the post. Male is a gender (men.)

Dear vs. Deer

Dear is regarded with deep affection. A deer is an animal, like Bambi. A deer can be dear to you, but a dear cannot be deer to you. Because that just doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Eight vs. Ate

Eight is the number following seven. Ate is something you would do for lunch. You can remember that ATE has the same letters of EAT, moved around.

Made vs. Maid

Made is the past tense of make. A maid is a person who does domestic work. It’s spelled like ‘aid’, because it helps!

Flour vs. Flower

A flower grows in your garden. Flour is more commonly found in the kitchen, and is used to make baked goods.