English in the Real World
English vocabulary help: common homonyms
In English, we have some words that often cause confusion due to their sound and spelling. ‘Homonyms’ are what I’m talking about, and they can give any English learner a headache. Homonyms are words that are spelled differently, but have the same exact sound. Here are some commonly used homonyms with their definition, and an example of how we would use them.
Bare: To expose.
“You bare your skin when you wear a bikini.”
Bear: 1) To endure or carry on. 2) A large furry animal
“There is someone in the bear cage! I can’t bear to watch!”
Bored: Having a lack of interest.
“I was so bored during that speech. I almost fell asleep.”
Board: 1) A thin flat piece of material. 2) The decision-makers within an organization.
“The board of directors at the Surf Club have decided which surf board we should use.”
Toe: You have five of them on each foot.
“I stubbed my toe today and it’s still throbbing.”
Tow: To pull another vehicle, possibly by a rope or chains.
“After a car accident a tow truck will come and tow your vehicle away.”
Through: Going in on one side and coming out the other.
“The road is blocked and I can’t get through. There might be an accident.”
Threw: To hurl, or to propel with force (the past tense of ‘throw’).
“He threw the ball really fast.”
Meet: To encounter
“I will meet you tomorrow around 3 PM.”
Meat: The flesh of an animal that’s eaten as food.
“What meat would you like for dinner, chicken or beef?”
Compliment: A polite expression
“You should always give your friends a compliment when they look nice.”
Complement: To enhance or perfect.
“This sauce complements the steak absolutely perfectly. How delicious!”
Break: 1) To interrupt something. 2) To shatter or fracture.
“We should take a break from dancing before we break our backs.”
Brake: A device for stopping a vehicle.
“I need to get my car checked, I think the brakes are going.”
I hope this clears things up a bit for you. Still confused? Ask questions in your next class, we will be happy to help.