Listening Test – The role of homophones

Students are doing the listening test and they know that the word that has to go into the gap sounded like, ‘breaking system.’ Momentarily the forget that they are listening to a lecture on the Automobile system and hence the word that they heard should be spelt, ‘braking system’ and not ‘breaking system.’

Words which have different spellings but sound the same are called Homophones. Homo meaning ‘same’ and phone meaning, ‘sound.’ These words come often in a test and the students lose out because the spelt the word wrongly. This is one of the areas of the Listening Test where although the student heard the answer correctly, lost out because of wrong spelling. If the student knows both the spellings and their meaning, then from the context it becomes easy to guess which word should be used. No one at this level gets confused between, say, ‘to’ and ‘two.’ When they are waiting to hear a number, they know what they heard was ‘two’ and not ‘to’ or ‘too.’ Sometimes there can be more than two words which are different but have the same spelling like, ‘to, too, two’ in the previous sentence. Another example is, ‘cite, site and sight.’
Homonyms, which are words which have the same sound and spelling but different meaning do not cause any confusion in spelling for obvious reasons. Whether the answer was the animal, ‘bear’ or the verb, ‘bear’ there is no chance of a spelling mistake.
Here is a list of common Homophones with their meaning and usage. When we can use the homophones in the same sentence, then the meaning will be even clearer. Challenge yourself to create a sentence with the two/three homophones in the same sentence.

      • bare – naked, uncovered
      • bear – a large animal
      • blew – past tense of blow
      • blue – the color
      • ceiling – top of a room (ceiling fan)
      • sealing – setting, fastening (the gasket seals the pressure cooker)
      • cell– the smallest part of a living thing, compartment
      • sell – vend, selling goods
      • cereal – breakfast food (Cornflakes)
      • serial – sequential, one after another
      • chord – musical tone
      • cord – rope, (umbilical cord)
      • cite – quote
      • site – location
      • sight – view
      • coarse – rough
      • course – path, a procedure
      • creak – squeak (the door creaks)
      • creek – a stream of water (the clear water of the creek)
      • crews – gangs (crew of the ship, construction crew)
      • cruise – ride on a boat (vacation on a cruise)
      • desert – to abandon, dry land
      • dessert – after-dinner treat (have ice cream for dessert)
      • die – cease to exist
      • dye – color (dyed the cloth in red color)
      • doe – female dear
      • dough – flour mixed with water (dough for making rotis)
      • dual – double (dual role as a parent and teacher)
      • duel – battle
      • fair – equal, white skin
      • fare – price (fare of the cab)
      • feat – achievement
      • feet – plural of foot
      • find – to discover
      • fined – charged a penalty (fined for violating the rules)
      • flea – small biting insect
      • flee – run
      • flour – powdery, ground up grain
      • flower – blooming plant
      • forth – onward put forth a plan)
      • fourth – number four
      • gene – a chromosome
      • jean – fabric; pants
      • grease – fat (grease the wheels)
      • Greece – a country in Europe
      • hair – head covering
      • hare – rabbit-like animal
      • hall – passageway
      • haul – pick up, tow (the wrongly parked vehicle was hauled up)
      • heal – mend (heal the wound)
      • heel – back of the foot
      • hear – to listen
      • here – at this place
      • hole – opening
      • whole – entire
      • knead – massage (knead the dough)
      • need – a desire
      • knew – past tense of know
      • new – not old
      • knight – feudal horseman
      • night – evening
      • knot – tied rope
      • not – negative
      • loan – lend
      • lone – solitary (lone man on the beach)
      • made – did make
      • maid – servant
      • mail – postage
      • male – opposite of female
      • pail – bucket
      • pale – not bright
      • pain – hurt
      • pane – window glass
      • peace – calm
      • piece – bit (piece of cake)
      • peak – the highest point
      • peek – glance
      • pole – post (pole vault, lamp pole)
      • poll – election, survey
      • pray – asking God
      • prey – hunted animal, quarry
      • principal – most important, head of a school
      • principle – belief
      • rain – water from the sky
      • rein – bridle (rein the horse)
      • reign – rule (Akbar’s reign)
      • stair – step
      • stare – to look at steadily (stared at the scene)
      • steal – rob
      • steel – the metal
      • suite – a large room in a hotel
      • sweet – the opposite of sour
      • tail – animal’s appendage
      • tale – story
      • their – belonging to them
      • there – at that place
      • waist – area below ribs
      • waste – squander
      • wait – passing the time
      • weight – measurable load
      • weak – not strong
      • week – seven days
      • wear – putting on (wear the tie)
      • where – question word
      • weather – climate
      • whether – if

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