Government of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada


Have you ever wondered why some words—homonyms—sound alike even though they have different meanings or spellings? Since there are no rules, homonyms are tricky: you must learn them by heart. Remember, practice (or is it practise?) makes perfect, so have a look at our list.


  • air (atmosphere)
    are (1/100 of a hectare)
    ere (before)
    err (to make a mistake)
    heir (inheritor)
  • aisle (walkway)
    I'll (contraction of I will)
    isle (small island)
  • allowed (permissible)
    aloud (out loud)
  • all ready (prepared)
    already (previously)
  • all together (everyone at the same time)
    altogether (entirely)
  • a lot (many; to a great extent)
    alot (incorrect; avoid)
    allot (divide or distribute)
  • anyone (anybody)
    any one (any person in a group, as in "any one of the students")
  • ascent (climb)
    assent (agreement)
  • assistance (help)
    assistants (helpers)
  • auger (tool)
    augur (to foretell)
  • aural (of hearing)
    oral (of the mouth)


  • bail (money to get out of jail)
    bale (bundle of hay)
  • bare (unclothed)
    bear (animal)
  • bi (bisexual)
    buy (to purchase)
    by (near)
    bye (goodbye)
  • bloc (alliance)
    Bloc (short for Bloc Québécois, a political party)
    block (square object)
  • board (piece of wood)
    bored (uninterested)
  • born (of birth)
    borne (carried)
  • borough (town)
    burrow (to dig)
  • brake (to stop)
    break (to smash)
  • breach (gap; violation)
    breech (lower part)
  • broach (to begin to talk about)
    brooch (type of jewellry)


  • cache (hidden storage)
    cash (money)
  • cannon (gun)
    canon (body of law)
  • canvas (fabric)
    canvass (to solicit charitable donations)
  • capital (city)
    Capitol (US government building)
  • carat (unit of weight for gemstones)
    caret (proofreader's mark)
    carrot (vegetable)
    karat (measure of gold purity)
  • cast (to throw)
    caste (social group)
  • censer (incense holder)
    censor (person who represses ideas, etc.)
    sensor (device that detects)
  • cent (penny)
    scent (odour)
    sent (past tense of to send)
  • cents (money)
    scents (odours)
    sense (meaning)
  • chute (inclined channel)
    shoot (to discharge a gun)
  • cite (to quote)
    sight (vision)
    site (location)
  • complement (something that completes)
    compliment (flattering remark)
  • cord (thin rope)
    chord (combination of musical notes)
  • councillor (elected official)
    counsellor (adviser)


  • dependant (person who relies on another)
    dependent (unable to do without)
  • dependants (people who rely on others)
    dependence (state of being dependent)
  • discreet (prudent, tactful)
    discrete (distinct)
  • dyeing (colouring)
    dying (approaching death)


  • elicit (to draw forth)
    illicit (unlawful)
  • everyone (everybody)
    every one (every person in a group, as in "every one of the students")


  • fair (free from bias)
    fare (price of passage)
  • faze (to disturb)
    phase (stage)
  • flair (natural talent)
    flare (gradual widening of pants or a skirt)
  • forbear (to hold back)
    forebear (ancestor)
  • foreword (preface)
    forward (toward the front)
  • forth (onward)
    fourth (after third)


  • gild (to coat with gold)
    guild (organization)
  • gilt (thin layer of gold)
    guilt (feeling of remorse)
  • gorilla (primate)
    guerrilla (type of soldier)


  • hail (to call out)
    hale (healthy)
  • hear (to perceive by ear)
    here (in this place)
  • heard (past tense of to hear)
    herd (group of animals)
  • higher (taller; greater than expected)
    hire (employ)
  • hoard (to accumulate)
    horde (large group)
  • hole (opening)
    whole (entire)


  • incite (to provoke)
    insight (understanding)
  • innocence (state of guiltlessness)
    innocents (more than one innocent person)
  • its (possessive form of it)
    it's (contraction of it is)


  • jam (fruit spread)
    jamb (vertical side of a doorway)
  • jewel (precious stone)
    joule (unit of work or energy)


  • knew (past tense of to know)
    new (not old)
  • know (to be certain)
    no (not any)


  • lead (metal)
    led (past tense of to lead)
  • lessen (to become less)
    lesson (single session of formal instruction)
  • licence (permit)
    license (to grant a licence)


  • mantel (shelf above a fireplace)
    mantle (cloak)
  • marshal (to gather)
    martial (warlike)
  • meat (flesh)
    meet (to come together)
    mete (to hand out)


  • naval (of ships or the navy)
    navel (umbilicus)
  • nay (negative vote)
    neigh (sound horses make)
  • none (zero)
    nun (woman belonging to a religious order)


  • one (single)
    won (past tense of to win)
  • overdo (to do to excess)
    overdue (late)


  • pair (two)
    pare (to peel)
    pear (fruit)
  • palate (taste)
    palette (paint board)
    pallet (portable platform for transporting goods)
  • past (gone by)
    passed (past tense of to pass)
  • patience (the quality of being patient)
    patients (people under medical care)
  • peace (absence of war)
    piece (portion)
  • peak (mountain top)
    peek (quick look)
    pique (resentment)
  • pearl (gem)
    Perl (computer language)
    purl (knitting stitch)
  • pedal (foot-operated lever)
    peddle (to sell)
  • phosphorous (containing phosphorus)
    phosphorus (chemical)
  • plain (clear)
    plane (flat surface; airplane)
  • poor (having no money)
    pore (small opening in the skin)
    pour (to flow freely)
  • practice (business of a professional)
    practise (to pursue as a profession)
  • praise (commendation)
    prays (worship)
    preys (hunts)
  • precedence (priority)
    precedents (legal decisions)
  • presence (the fact of being present)
    presents (gifts)
  • principal (most important)
    principle (basic truth or law)


  • rack (framework)
    wrack (wreck)
  • rain (precipitation)
    reign (rule)
    rein (leash)
  • raise (to bring up)
    rays (beams)
    raze (to tear down)
  • residence (dwelling)
    residents (dwellers)
  • review (to go over)
    revue (theatrical entertainment)
  • right (correct)
    rite (ritual)
    wright (worker)
    write (to inscribe)
  • ring (circular band of metal)
    wring (to twist)
  • road (surface for driving)
    rode (past tense of to ride)
  • root (underground part of a plant)
    route (course)


  • scene (place where action takes place)
    seen (past tense of to see)
  • seam (junction)
    seem (to appear)
  • seas (bodies of water)
    sees (looks)
    seize (to grab)
  • sewer (one who sews)
    sower (one who sows)
  • sewer (waste drain)
    suer (one who sues)
  • sight (function of seeing)
    site (location)
  • slay (to kill)
    sleigh (sled)
  • sometime (at an unspecified time)
    some time (unspecified period of time)
  • stair (step)
    stare (to gaze fixedly)
  • stationary (not moving)
    stationery (writing paper)
  • storey (floor in a building)
    story (tale)
  • straight (without a bend)
    strait (narrow passage of water)


  • their (belonging to them)
    there (not here)
    they're (contraction of they are)
  • throes (violent spasms)
    throws (hurls)
  • through (by way of)
    threw (past tense of to throw)
  • to (toward)
    too (also)
    two (number following one)
  • troop (soldiers)
    troupe (actors, performers)


  • vale (valley)
    veil (piece of transparent fabric)
  • vain (excessively proud)
    vane (flat surface that rotates against air or water)
    vein (blood vessel)


  • wail (cry)
    wale (welt)
    whale (mammal)
  • waist (area of the body between the ribs and the hips)
    waste (to consume uselessly)
  • waive (to relinquish a right)
    wave (swell)
  • ware (article of merchandise)
    wear (to have on the body)
    where (in what place)
  • weak (feeble)
    week (seven days)
  • weather (climate)
    whether (if)
  • were (past tense of to be)
    whir (noise)
  • wet (moistened)
    whet (to sharpen)
  • which (what one)
    witch (crone)
  • who's (contraction for who is)
    whose (possessive form of who)


  • yoke (device for joining together)
    yolk (centre of an egg)
  • yore (time past)
    your (possessive form of you)
    you're (contraction of you are)