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Part 4 of our homonyms series

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Don’t worry! This is the last in the series. No more homonyms or homophones to know…. For a while at least! 

It’s OK to ask for clarification too, as you will probably know people spell their names differently, which can often lead to confusion. Normally, people with an unusual name spelling are more than happy to tell you how to spell it. They are likely to also give you the background to it which will remind you that their name is individual. 

ail - to suffer poor health  
ale - a beverage   

chews - gnaws with teeth  
choose - to select  

chord - musical tone  
cord - rope  

crews - gangs  
cruise - ride on a boat  

days - plural of day  
daze – stun 

eye - sight organ  
I - first-person personal pronoun  

faze - impact  
phase – stage 

groan - moan  
grown - form of grow  
hair - head covering  
hare - rabbit-like animal  
knew - did know  
new - not old  
lead - metal  
led - was the leader  

morning – before noon  
mourning - remember the dead  

one - single  
won - did win  

principal - most important  
principle - belief  
rain – water from sky  
rein - bridle  

steal - swipe  
steel - alloy  
tail - animal’s appendage  
tale – story 

vary - differ  
very - wail - howl   

wail - howl  
whale - huge sea mammal  

Beware of accents too as these may make the word sound different. Practicing your pronunciation will help distinguish some, but others really will rely on the rest of the sentence – if spoken only – for clarity. 

The English often use these types of words in jokes and humour. It can be called word play or a play on words. It is very subtle and can take a while to appreciate the joke. The more famous and professional comedians work this way, weaving stories throughout their act to confuse the audience, and then the punchline will often refer to the original subject. 

They say once you can tell a joke – or argue in another language, that you have nailed it! 

Listening to songs will also help as the use of words becomes automatic, then you can write down what you think the lyrics are, and check them on the internet. Or maybe try karaoke? The words are shown to you while you are performing, and you can practice your favourites songs and be learning English at the same time! 

See part three of series here and learn English homonyms  

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