Homophone is a word that sounds alike another word but has a completely different meaning. Homophones can be problematic not just for foreign speakers of English, but for native speakers as well. Since these pairs of words are usually pronounced the same (to some varying extent), it can be difficult sometimes to remember the correct spelling.
Here’s an example of a typical homophone:
- hour /aʊə/ – a period of time equal to 60 minutes
- our /aʊə/ – belonging to the speaker and some other people previously mentioned
As you can see, these two words sound the same, yet they are not interchangeable. Each of the word has a completely different meaning and the only way you can find out the true meaning of the particular word in a spoken conversation is from context.
Let’s try to fill the correct word into the sentences below:
- I got up an /aʊə/ ago. (hour)
- I think we should use /aʊə/ time a bit more constructively. (our)