English homophones

One of the most frustrating aspects to learning English – or any language, for that matter – is how you can tell the difference between two words that are spelled alike. In Spanish, for example, the omittance of a mere accent mark or tilde over the letter “n” (like you see in the word Español) can drastically change the meaning of a word.

In English, however, one must also consider words that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings, called homophones. Homophones don’t commonly exist in Spanish or other languages, where the presence of an accent mark will change the pronunciation of the word. So, it is important to consider the context of the word and understand when the correct spelling and pronunciation are appropriate. Note: homophones are most important to consider when writing and reading English, rather than speaking.

A common homophone you will often encounter is the word set “they’re, there, and their.” They all are pronounced the same, but they obviously are spelled differently and boast separate meanings. “They’re” is the contraction for “they are,” as seen in the sentence “They’re (they are) coming to dinner tonight.” “There” is an adverb that describes a location and is usually referred to as the opposite of the word “here”: “I put the boxes over there, by the cabinet, rather than here at my desk.” For Spanish speakers, “there” is also used like the word “Hay,” as in “There is a lot to do “(in Spanish: hay mucho que hacer). Finally, “their” is used as a third person possessive adjective, as seen in “Rover is their dog” (“their” describes to whom the dog belongs…it belongs to them, so it’s their dog).

Another common mistake occurs when people write the word “you’re.” This word, like “they’re,” is a contraction for “you are,” as seen in the sentence “You’re (you are) so handsome.” “Your,” like “their,” is a second person possessive adjective, as seen in “Rover is your dog” (the dog belongs to you, so it’s your dog). However, many people tend to write “your” when they really should have written “you’re,” and this is either due to laziness or ignorance of the difference between the words.

Below is a list of common homophones and their article of speech, along with examples of sentences for each pair:

Write I prefer to write with a pencil rather than with a pen. (verb)
Right Turn right at the next street. (Or, when you want to use it to mean “correct”: That’s the right answer, good job!) (adverb, adjective)


Red I am wearing a red shirt. (adjective)
Read I read a great book yesterday. (Note: “Read” in this case is the past tense form of the verb “to read.” The present tense pronunciation of the verb sounds like “reed.”) (verb)


Way Please show me the correct way to go to the theater. (noun)
Weigh The scale shows that I weigh 120 pounds. (verb)


Meat Is there any meat in the lasagna? (noun)
Meet Let’s meet at the restaurant at noon. (verb)


See Can you see what the sign says over there? (verb)
Sea Barcelona is on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. (noun)


To To whom should I direct your call? (preposition)
Two There will be two of us at dinner tonight. (adjective)

Improve English Speaking Skill

Once you’ve learned the basics of English, it’s very important to keep practicing and looking for ways to improve your verbal skills. This includes your ability to comprehend verbal English – as well as speak it. Unfortunately, if you feel self-conscious, you’ll miss out on many opportunities to practice and gain the type of experience that will help you speak fluently. Aside from using a tape recorder, or conversing over a computer, there are several other ways that you can practice speaking and comprehending verbal English.

Improving verbal comprehension with music

No matter where you live – or what language you speak – there’s bound to be some type of music you enjoy. Search online to find English speaking singers in the genre you enjoy. Listening to music in English will give you a feel for the underlying rhythm of the language, as well as for the colloquial expressions used commonly in conversational English.

If you can’t understand the words in the song at first, you can look up the lyrics on the internet and read along as you listen to the song. As you become more comfortable with the speech patterns, try singing along with the recording. You may also want to look and see if there are any songs that you know in your language that are also recorded in English. Since you’ll already know the words to these songs, you’ll be better able to understand the translations to English.

Using karaoke to improve verbal expression

Karaoke is a fun, easy way to sing along to your favorite musical arrangements. Once you know the words to a song, you can sing them along with the music. This will help you to add some inflection to your speech patterns, as well as adjust the rate you normally speak at. Practicing karaoke songs will also give you a broad introduction to the type of music that is popular in English-speaking cultures.

While this may sound silly, children who are first learning English sing the alphabet for practice. Not only does this help them recognize letters later on, it’s also useful for associating sounds with those letters. Therefore, when you are trying to improve your verbal speech patterns, singing the English alphabet out loud can also be of help to you.

Write poetry and speak it out loud

Writing poetry is an excellent way to improve your written and verbal English language skills. When you speak your poems out loud, you’ll have the additional opportunity to try new sentence pacing, as well as hear the way different sounds fit together. In some cases, you may find that you enjoy writing in poetry enough to enter contests or create a special blog space for them.

Even though you may have many practical purposes for learning English, taking advantage of the fun parts of the language can help you develop your verbal conversation skills as well. For example, listening to English language music is a wonderful, fun way to learn new words and pick up on the creative ways that English words can be assembled. You can also use poetry and other types of rhyming methods in a similar way. The important thing is to verbally sound out the sentences, songs, and poems that you create to improve your proficiency at verbal English.

English speaking activities

There are many ways for students studying the English language to improve their language skills. One of the best ways is simply by speaking as much English as possible. The activity of actually speaking English is much more similar to how a child learns to speak the English language natively. The ability to read and write English are both obviously important skills, although a child usually speaks English before learning how to read English. Since speaking a language is actually a more natural way for a human to learn, here are some recommended English speaking activities a student may appreciate and enjoy.

Speak Everything That Is Done

One fun way for an English language student to really benefit from and also enjoy is the practice of speaking everything that is done throughout the day. When waking up in the morning, a student can say aloud: “I am waking up!” When getting out of bed, a student can say: “I am getting out of bed.” When brushing their teeth, a student can say: “I am brushing my teeth.” Okay, maybe it’s better for one to be quiet while brushing one’s teeth. Hopefully the general idea of the fun practice is clear. Speak everything that is being done throughout the day, whenever possible. When walking on the sidewalk, a student can say aloud: “I am walking on the sidewalk.” When passing a tree, a student can say: “I am passing a tree.” If it is necessary for a student to look up a word in a dictionary to describe activity, then the student should do so. Looking up the right word to use for a situation is important for this practice. Using the right words again and again throughout the day is a good way to learn English vocabulary.

Story of the Day

A daily practice that can be highly useful for helping an English language student enhance their English ability is to maintain a daily journal. A written journal is a wonderful way to practice writing English and an audio journal is a great way to practice speaking English. One really good benefit of recording a daily audio journal is that it allows an English language student to actually listen to the English they are speaking. This enables a student to improve their English pronunciation skills. Another benefit is the motivation gained from a student hearing how their pronunciation improves from week to week, month to month, and year to year.  Using a computer for recording a daily journal is fine and recording audio files on a computer makes it easy to keep an audio journal properly organized. The daily audio journal can be a basic story of the day in a similar way to the previous practice listed in this article. The audio journal is done near the end of the day though, so a student would say something like: “I woke up. I got out of bed. I brushed my teeth.” The student would continue by saying what happened next and basically tell a story of the day’s activities. This can be truly enjoyable in addition to being good English practice.
Hopefully these helpful ideas will make studying the English language more fun and enjoyable.

How to speak English tips

Irregardless of the language that you are trying to learn, connecting the way words sound with how they look on paper is a difficult task. Because the pronunciation rules for English are not consistent, you may often come to points where you will have a difficult time determining how to say things correctly.

It is also important to realize that the English has accents and dialects like any other language. As a result, you may feel confused when you are told to pronounce a word in a certain way, only to hear it spoken in a different way by someone else. Nevertheless, there are still a number of methods that you can use to develop your English speaking skills.

Using a Tape Recorder

In many cases, when you are concentrating on how to form sounds, you may not be aware of how they actually turn out. A tape recorder is very useful for helping you learn the results of your efforts. As you listen, you will be able to hear the difference in what you intended to sound out, and what actually occurred. You can also compare these results to tapes of native English speakers and work on specific sound groups that are difficult to manage. A tape recorder will also help you learn how to control the pace of your speech, as well as your breathing pattern.

Listen and Repeat Numerous Dialects and Accents

Once you have mastered the basic sounds, it may be helpful to listen to these words spoken by people with different accents. As an example, you might want to try and imitate everything from Texan accents to Irish ones. In the process, you may find that some letter pronunciations fit better with your own natural speech patterns.

As you listen and repeat from tapes, it is very important to experiment and find out what will make you speech clear and understandable. You can also find numerous samples of spoken English on the internet. If you visit sites like You Tube, it is possible to download videos on just about any subject. Some video producers may even have content available that shows you the proper lip and tongue positions to form specific sounds. You can also select materials that match a hobby or other personal interest, and gain the benefit of hearing a native English speaker at the same time.

Voice Chat

At some point, you will want to gain steady practice in conversational English. If your computer is equipped with a sound card and microphone, you may be able to find internet chat rooms that also support voice chat. That said, you may not find this of much help if your internet connection is too slow.

Unfortunately, learning to verbalize in English will be very difficult if you do not actually speak out loud. If you cannot find someone to practice with, you can still use a tape recorder, or practice with videos. On the other hand, if your computer has the necessary hardware, you may find that you have unlimited opportunities to carry on conversations with native English speakers from all over the world.