IDP IELTS Blog

Understanding English: Homophones

2 Apr 2018
Understanding English: Homophones

Learning English requires understanding the differences in meanings between words and how they’re pronounced. Sometimes you will encounter certain words that sound the same, yet are spelled differently and have different meanings. These types of words are called homophones.

To help you become more familiar with homophones, let’s take a look at some of the more common ones you’re sure to use while you’re learning English and preparing for your IELTS exam.

Buy – Bye – By: Buy means to purchase something, like “to go buy groceries.” Bye means to bid someone farewell and is the shortened version of goodbye. By is a preposition that is used to refer to something that is near or beside something else, such as “the playground is by the walking trail entrance.”

Break – Brake: These two words sound the same, yet are used differently. Break has a few different meanings, depending on how it used. It could mean “to take a break from working” when used as a noun or as a verb, like “it was easy to break the candy bar in half.” The brake, on the other hand refers to the stopping mechanism on vehicles and bikes, such as “she pressed on the brake to stop the car.”

No – Know: No is used as the opposite of yes when answering questions. Know means to have knowledge or be aware of something, like “I know I need to study for my IELTS exam to get a high score.”

Their – They’re – There: Their is a possessive word and an example is “we used their car”. They’re is a contraction of the two words they are, such as “they’re running late.” There is used to describe a location, like “he is over there,” or as part of a statement, “there will be a test tomorrow.”

Two – To – Too: These three words also sound the same. Two means the number 2. To is an infinitive verb as well as can mean towards, such as “he ran to class because he was late.” Too means also and as well as, like, “She was late to class too.”

Complement – Compliment: These two words are difficult even for native English speakers to use correctly. Complement means to go along with, such as “the colour of the floor complements the colour of the walls.” Compliment is used to give praise, like “her boss complimented her on a job well done.”

As you can see, there are several English words that sound the same but have different meanings. Please keep in mind there are many more homophones besides these. Just for fun, you should look up the meanings for this homophone that includes seven different words that are all pronounced the same:

  • Rays
  • Raze
  • Raise
  • Rase
  • Res
  • Rehs
  • Réis

For assistance in preparing for your upcoming IELTS exam, as well as study materials to help improve your skills, please feel free to explore our website further. You can also contact your nearest IELTS Test Centre for study preparation assistance or when you are ready to register and take your exam.

Testimonials

Thanks to IDP IELTS Masterclass for the interesting webinar, it was very informative, well organised and practical.
Hussein, Student
IDP IELTS Masterclass really helpful, as preparation for the IELTS exam and give us support in many ways to improve our English.
Leny, Company CEO
This was a fantastic presentation! It was very clear, practical and moved at a good pace. I would highly recommend these webinars
Shauna, Student
IELTS has been growing steadily for 20 years because it works. It’s good to know that IELTS has been the choice of millions of people over the years. IELTS stood out immediately because it tests all four skills – reading, writing, speaking and listening, giving a well-rounded assessment of my English
Arnik Surasarang, Teacher
The webinar which was held on the 1st of November was satisfactory, informative and valuable. All the questions were answered and explained in a proper way. Thank you!
Olena, Company CEO
Instructions before the IELTS written and speaking test were very clear and the people were nice and helpful. I found the written test pretty good. It was not too difficult, nor too simple. The results came quickly and I was accepted in the program and I am currently in the middle of my first year exams.
Nicholas Cletz, Company CEO
I like that they are open to give us some information and kind of training course without any cost so we can get ready for this important test.
Danna, Student
80+ Test Locations Across Latin America
World's most popular English-language test for work, study, and migration. IELTS is recognised by over 10,000 organizations in over 140 countries worldwide. Speaking test administered face-to-face in a private, quiet room with a certified IELTS examiner