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Updated: Jul 8, 2022

Have you ever wondered about the difference between the following words?

  • Brake x break

  • Deer x dear

  • Prize x price

These words are called homophones, which means that these words have different spelling but the same pronunciation.

Let's have a look at some commonest pairs which can be a nightmare for English students.

/breɪk/ The break was not working so I couldn't stop. X When is your lunch break?

Brake = the equipment in a car used for slowing down

Break = time for rest, a pause in a programme

/dɪə(r)/ I saw a deer in the field. X How are you, my dear?

Deer = a large brown animal with long thin legs

Dear = used for talking to someone you love or are friendly with

/praɪz/ She is a Nobel Prize winner. X What's the price of a new car?

Prize = a reward

Price = the amount of money you have to pay for something you want to buy

/teɪl/ Don't step on the cat's tail! X Do you want me to tell you a fairy tale?

Tail = a part at the back of an animal’s body that can move

Tale = a story about imaginary events or people

/həʊl/ Did you eat the whole cake? X We have a lot of holes in the garden.

Whole = a complete thing, all of something

Hole = space in surface

/hɪə(r)/ Did you hear the news? X No one was here.

Hear = notice sound, receive information

Here = an adverb meaning in or to this place

/miːt/ Do you eat meat? X Did you meet your friends at the weekend?

Meat = the flesh of an animal or bird eaten as food

Meet = come together with somebody

/hɜː(r)d/ Have you heard the news? X I have got a herd of cattle.

Heard = past participle of the verb hear

Herd = a large group of animals of the same type living and moving together

/daɪ/ When did you dye your hair? X When did your grandpa die?

Dye = to change the colour of something

Die = stop being alive

/weə(r)/ Where do you come from? X Were you at school?

Where = a conjunction, relative or question adverb referring to a place

Were = the past form of be in plural

/red/ Have you read this news? X I want to paint my walls red.

Read = the past participle of read

Red = the same colour as blood

/tɪə(r)/ We sat in the upper tier at the stadium. X Her eyes filled with tears.

Tier = one of several levels in an organisation or system

Tear = a drop of liquid that comes from your eye when you cry

/hiːl/ How is your wound healing? X Does your heel still hurt?

Heal = to make a part of the body healthy again

Heel = the back part of your foot, below your ankle

/preɪ/ He prays five times a day. X The cheetah stalked its prey.

Pray = to speak to God or a saint

Prey = an animal that is caught by another animal and eaten

/peə(r)/ I need to get a new pair of jeans. X Do you eat pears?

Pair = two things of the same type

Pear = a fruit

/ðeə(r)/ There is a very old castle. X Their hobbies are DIY and hiking.

There = a word functioning as a pronoun, interjection, adverb; used for saying where sth exists

Their = a possessive determiner of they

/wiːk/ My arms are so weak. X You've got one week to finish this task.

Weak = not having much energy and physical strength

Week = a period of seven days

To see more homophones, look at this table:

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