English Language Blog

Confusing Paronyms and Homophones Posted by on Apr 23, 2021 in English Grammar, English Language

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

As confusing and maddening as English can be sometimes, learners and even native speakers have particular difficulty dealing with paronyms. In fact, to make matters worse, we even have trouble figuring out the difference between paronyms and homophones!

Homophones are words that sound exactly alike, are even pronounced alike, but have very different spellings and meanings. Paronyms are words that sound similar but have different spellings and meanings. Notice the subtle difference? You will…


  1. You’re never going to believe your luck!” You’re is a contraction of the words you and are. Your is a determiner of possession.
  2. “Before we say bye, I want to buy one of your paintings.” Bye is an abbreviation of the word goodbye. Buy is a verb meaning to purchase.
  3. “I was afraid that I would break my neck when the brake on my bicycle failed.” To break something is to sustain an injury. A brake is a device for stopping a moving object.
  4. “You’ll hear better if you stand over here.” Hear is a verb meaning to listen. Here is an adverb meaning a place or position.
  5. “There is no way that he will know all the answers to the test.” No is a determiner. Know is a verb.


  1. “I wanted to be his friend, except I couldn’t accept his political views.” Except is a preposition meaning other than. To accept something is to receive something.
  2. “The two words didn’t seem to differ, so he decided to defer from making a comment.” Differ is a verb meaning unlike. Defer is a verb meaning to postpone.
  3. “The creature was so immense that I believed that it could never immerse itself in the pool.” Immense is an adjective meaning large in size. Immerse is a verb meaning to submerge.
  4. “Not enough states voted to ratify the amendment, but perhaps someday we will rectify that situation.” Ratify is a verb meaning to formally give consent, usually in a legal situation. Rectify is a verb meaning to correct something.
  5. “You could choose to emigrate from your country and immigrate to ours.” To emigrate is to leave one’s country. Immigrate is to move permanently to another country.

Many languages have similar pairs or groups of words that often get confused. But, trust me, English has many more than just these examples, and it is normal to make a mistake. I see it all the time, even from native speakers. Don’t get discouraged. Remember, it’s English!

Tags: ,
Keep learning English with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Gary Locke

Gary is a semi-professional hyphenate.