Vocabulary 12 - Homophones
"Despite his SLIGHT build he pulverised his bigger opponent," or is it "Despite his SLEIGHT build he pulverised his bigger opponent"?

Vocabulary 12 - Homophones

Because the English language has thousands of words to be made use of in everyday speaking or writing there are bound to be words which are similar to one another. These words could be similar in spelling or even exactly the same. They might have similar pronunciations but different spellings. The same word could have two entirely different meanings.

The broad category under which words that are spelled the same but have different meanings and may have different pronunciations come is called Homographs.

The broad categories under which words that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings come is called Homophones.

Both Homographs and Homophones are put under an even broader category which is called Homonyms.

Words such as DESERT and BOW are homographs:
Desert can mean either 'an area of land which is dry' or 'to abandon something'.
Bow can mean 'to bend down as a mark of respect', 'a ribbon' or 'an item that is used to propel an arrow'.

Words such as FLOWER and FLOUR are homophones. Here the pronunciation is the same but meanings are clear. Look at these two sentences:

‘I love the rose FLOWER.’
‘Get some rice FLOUR from the supermarket.’


The meaning of the words is obvious isn't it? However, the same sentences could be confusing when spoken rather than written as 'flower' and 'flour' are pronounced exactly the same.

The way to get a hang of homophones is to make use of these words as often as possible. In order to help you to be on the way to mastering homophones the quiz that follows exposes you to some homophones in common use.
1.
Choose the sentence with the correct homophone.
Saurav and his dad went to the stationery shop to buy pencils, ink and notebooks.
Saurav and his dad went to the stationary shop to buy pencils, erasers and notebooks.
A speeding SUV ploughed through stationery traffic.
To stand stationery for a long time is an impossibility for me.
Answers 3 and 4 should use 'stationary', an adjective meaning 'to stay without moving'. Answer 2 should have used 'stationery', a noun meaning 'writing materials such as pencils, ink and notebooks'
2.
Choose the sentence with the correct homophone.
The passenger ship was attacked in the high seas.
Manav's father sees a bright future for his son.
To seize the initiative, Virat Kohli has to marshal his resources skilfully.
All three are correct.
All sentences use the homophones correctly:
'Seas' are expanses of water, 'sees' is the third person present form of the verb 'see' and 'seize' means 'to firmly take hold of'
3.
Choose the sentence with the correct homophone.
I need to go to the bathroom urgently.
The boxer kneed his opponent and the referee gave him a warning.
You have to knead the dough for at least three minutes to form well for bread to be fluffy.
All three are correct.
All sentences use the homophones correctly:
To 'need' something is to require it, if you 'kneed' someone then you used your knee to strike them with and 'knead' means to work dough with your hands
4.
Choose the sentence with the correct homophone.
Anamika wanted a larger canvass to work on her next painting.
The painter used the canvass intelligently.
The sitting minister had to canvas hard in the forthcoming elections.
The sitting minister had to canvass hard in the forthcoming elections.
Answers 1 and 2 should use 'canvas', a noun meaning 'a closely woven cloth used for oil paintings, tents or sails'. Answer 3 should have used 'canvass', a verb meaning 'to solicit votes'. 'Canvass' is also a noun meaning the gathering of support for a vote
5.
Choose the sentence with the correct homophone.
The kids enjoyed the antics of the big fat guerrilla at the zoo.
The kids enjoyed the antics of the big fat gorila at the zoo.
The kids enjoyed the antics of the big fat goarilla at the zoo.
The kids enjoyed the antics of the big fat gorilla at the zoo.
'Kids' and 'zoo' give the hint that we are looking at the animal 'gorilla'. A 'guerrilla' is a person belonging to an illegal armed group that fights regular real forces such as the police or the military. Answers 2 and 3 have wrong spellings for 'gorilla'
6.
Choose the sentence with the correct homophone.
In India curds rice is a compliment to a good meal.
It was difficult for me to complement him on his infamous victory.
The members of the present Indian cricket team complement one another but they are proud individual talents as well.
Indian wedding cards have the legend 'with best complements from' as a standard sign off.
Answer 1 should use 'complement' and Answers 2 and 4 should use 'compliment.' 'Compliment' is a noun and verb which expresses admiration, respect and praise. 'Complement' is a noun that means 'completes a whole' or 'goes well together'
7.
Choose the sentence with the correct homophone.
The assistants in his office are well dressed, well behaved and courteous.
The assistance in his office are well dressed, well behaved and courteous.
The assistents in his office are well dressed, well behaved and courteous.
The asistants in his office are well dressed, well behaved and courteous.
While 'assistants' are persons who can be well dressed, well behaved and courteous, 'assistance' is the act of assisting and does not go with well dressed, well behaved and courteous. Answers 3 and 4 have the wrong spellings for 'assistants'
8.
Choose the sentence with the correct homophone.
She mustard enough courage to ask her mother why she was using mustard oil in her cooking.
She mustered enough courage to ask her mother why she was using mustered oil in her cooking.
She mustard enough courage to ask her mother why she was using mustered oil in her cooking.
She mustered enough courage to ask her mother why she was using mustard oil in her cooking.
'Mustard' is a plant from which mustard oil is made whilst 'mustered' is the past form of 'muster', a verb meaning 'to round up' or 'gather together'
9.
Choose the sentence with the correct homophone.
Lakshmi used the hangars to dry her clothes.
Lakshmi used the hangers to dry her clothes.
The small aeroplanes were parked in different hangers at the airport.
The small aeroplanes were parked in different heangars at the airport.
A 'hanger' is used to hang clothes whereas a 'hangar' is a place where aeroplanes are parked. Answers 1 and 3 use the wrong words and Answer 4 has the wrong spelling for 'hangar'
10.
Choose the sentence with the correct homophone.
Despite his slight build he pulverised his bigger opponent.
Despite his sleight build he pulverised his bigger opponent.
The magician's slight of hand went unnoticed by the gullible audience.
Owing to pressure from the opposition the finance minister effected a sleight cut in expenditure.
Answers 2 and 4 should have used 'slight'.'Answer 3 should have used 'sleight.' 'Slight' means 'slim', 'lightly built' or 'very small'. 'Sleight' means 'cunning or trickery'
Author:  V T Narendra

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