How Many Homophones Can I Find in London?
I’m walking around London looking for as many homophones as I can.
A homophone (literally meaning “same sound”) is when two or more words have the same sound, but different meaning, and usually a different spelling. They are one of the many reasons English can be a tough language to learn, so in this video, I aim to look at some common ones in a slightly awkward way, while showing you some of the scenes around London, Greenwich and the River Thames.
All Homophones from the Video
Oral / Aural (ˈɔːr(ə)l)
These two are confusing! “Oral” refers to anything related to speaking, while “Aural” is for listening! It’s a nightmare for language learners and teachers alike, but thankfully, we more frequently use the word “auditory” instead of “aural” to make things a bit easier.
Weather / Whether (ˈwɛðə)
“Weather” is the one you might know already – the climate. This could be sunny weather or rainy weather. “Whether” is a common word too, that is used to talk about a choice between two options. “I don’t know whether I should go or stay!”
Daze / Days (deɪz)
“Days” is the plural of “day”, such as the days of the week (Monday…) “Daze” is a state of confusion. A time when you can’t think clearly. We often use the phrase “I’m in a bit of a daze”.
There’s also a great song that plays on the line “Around the World in 80 Days” call “Around the World in a Tea Days”. The meaning and words are different, but the sound is almost identical. Check it out if you like psychedelic music.
Allowed / Aloud (əˈlaʊd)
“Allowed” means to get permission to do something. If you are not allowed to talk, that means you are not permitted to talk. “Aloud” is another way of saying “out loud”. You might ask someone not to play music aloud, but use their earphones instead. Perhaps playing music aloud isn’t allowed!
Curb / Kerb
“To curb” is a verb and it means to restrict or control something. You may have to curb your sugar intake to regain control of your health. “Kerb” is a noun and refers to the raised part of a path the separates the road from the pavement.
Ball / Bawl (bɔːl)
“Ball” is an easy one. Football or tennis ball, for example. Unlike the noun, “bawl” is a verb and means “to cry loudly”. I think of bawling babies when I hear this word.
Flaw / Floor (flɔː)
A “flaw” is an imperfection. Perhaps my flaw is my lack of hair (although perhaps some may say this is my best feature!) The floor is simply a word for the ground.
Great / Grate (ɡreɪt)
I imagine “great” is one of the first words many English learners come across. “Brilliant! Amazing!” “Grate” can refer to a metal top to something that has holes in, usually covering a water drainage pipe or something like that. Very different meaning here!
Isle / Aisle (ʌɪl)
These two are both common and both nouns. “Isle” is another word for “Island” as in the British Isles. “Aisle” refers to a row of items in a shop or supermarket. You can find the best food in the refrigerated aisle!
Key / Quay (kiː)
The first is the common word, referring to something that opens a door. Can I have the key to your heart? The second, “quay” is like a dock or a harbour – a place where boats stop in a city. I used to live in a town called Torquay – a quay for the village Torre.
Scene / Seen (siːn)
What a beautiful scene! This word can be used to mean a landscape or view. “Seen” is the past participle verb of “to see”. I have seen a nice scene!
Soar / Saw (sɔː)
I’m hoping this will be a new one for some of you! “Saw” is simply the past tense of the verb “see”. But “soar”, however, is a verb and means to fly high in the sky. Wow look at that plane soar!
Buoy / Boy (bɔɪ)
This one’s a bit more specific, but perhaps useful if you live by the sea. “Boy” is the word for a male child. “Buoy” is a floating marker in the sea, often to warn sailors about dangerous rocks or mark a path. If you hear “Look at the buoy in the sea”, keep in mind it may not actually be a boy in trouble!
Plain / Plane (pleɪn)
“Plain” is an adjective that means “boring” or “simple”. “Plane” is short for “airplane” or “aeroplane”. Do you think the planes are plain?
Beach / Beech (biːtʃ)
“Beach” is the common word – a (usually) sandy place near a body of water. “Beech” is a bit more specialised – a common species of tree. Have you ever seen a beech tree on the beach? I don’t think I have…
Compliment / Complement (ˈkɒmplɪm(ə)nt)
This one is very useful because a lot of native speakers also get this wrong. They’re both verbs, but “compliment” (with an ‘i’) means to say a good thing about someone. “You look beautiful today!” “Complement” (with an ‘e’) means to go well with something or match something else. “This wine complements the dinner”.
Can you think of any homophones that I didn’t mention? Write them in the comments.