We come across words in the English language that often confuse us. Look at the sentence ‘I love the colour of his CELL phone’, and also the sentence ‘The salesman knocks on many doors to try and SELL his wares.’ The meaning of the words is clear when we see the sentences in the written form and understand the context; there is no ambiguity in understanding the two words CELL and SELL. However, since both are pronounced the same way, we may get confused when they are spoken!
Take another example. When you listen to a running commentary on cricket you might come across this sentence spoken by the commentator:
"Virat Kohli hit thirteen FOURS in his knock and all the shots were with the use of minimum FORCE but maximum timing."
You will be wondering what this commentator is talking about. But when you see it in print and find the spellings different your mind immediately adjusts and you understand what the commentator meant. Such words, with different spellings and meanings but the same pronunciation, are known as HOMOPHONES. We come across many such words in our daily usage of English. The trick to understand homophones, especially while listening, is to quickly put the spoken words into context and you will not get confused but correctly understand what is spoken. However, when you read a passage, in addition to the context, you would also be aided by the spelling which would be different as in the cases of CELL/SELL and FOURS/FORCE.
Take this quiz and see how many homophones you can use correctly.