Last week, we learned about a group of words called Homonyms. It’s time to move on and learn about another important group – Homophones. Not sure what they are? Let´s find out now!
What is a homophone?
A homophone is a word which sounds the same as another word, but has a different meaning.
Ahead/ a head
The two hats in the cartoon seem to be having a conversation. How strange! The homophone here can be found in the words ‘a head’. ‘Head’ is, of course, the upper part of the human body – the part of your body where the brain, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and hair are found. But ‘a head’ sounds exactly like the word ‘ahead’, an adverb which means ‘further forward’ or ‘towards the front of’ someone or something. Let’s look at some examples to make sure we’ve understood the difference:
E.g. Go on ahead. (Move on and continue without me.)
E.g. She likes to plan ahead. (She likes to know what she’s going to do before the time comes.)
E.g. Move the appointment ahead from Tuesday to Monday. (The appointment was on Tuesday, but now it’s been moved to an earlier date.)
E.g My team was ahead by two goals. (We were winning by 2 goals.)
Has he got a stray hair or a stray hare? What’s the difference? ‘Hair’ grows on your head while a ‘hare’ (pronounced the same way as hair) is an animal very much like a rabbit. The word ‘stray’ means ‘something out of place’. The boy’s hair is messy and therefore has stray strands of hair. The rabbit, however, is a pet and therefore not a stray animal and certainly not a ‘stray hare’!
When do we use ‘witch’ and ‘which’? What’s the difference? A ‘witch’ is a woman who practises magic or has magical powers – just like the character Hermione in Harry Potter. The male equivalent of the word ‘witch’ is ‘wizard’ (you can see two wizards to the left of the picture). The word ‘which’ can be used as a pronoun or as a determiner:
Pronoun: As a pronoun, we use ‘which’ when referring to something previously mentioned when introducing a clause containing more information.
E.g. Which witch were you talking about?
Determiner: As a determiner, we use ‘which’ when asking for more information specifying one or more people or things from a set.
E.g. The party which started at 10 PM. (What party am I talking about? The party which started at 10 PM).
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