200 Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs (A - B)

A List of Easily Confused Words With Practice Exercises

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Homonyms, homophones, and homographs are words that are easily confused because they look alike or sound alike (or both) but have different meanings. These charts—which list some of the most common homonyms, homophones, and homographs—should help you recognize the differences between many commonly confused words.

  1. accept/except to buy/by/bye (below)
  2. capital/capitol to eminent/imminent (page two)
  3. fair/fare to lie/lye (page three)
  1. meat/meet/mete to role/roll (page four)
  2. scene/seen to whine/wine (page five)

Follow the links below for examples and expanded definitions of the commonly confused words. Below the chart is a practice exercise.

Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs (A - B)

accept - take inexcept - other than 
ad - advertisementadd - join, combine 
advice - guidanceadvise - recommend 
aid - assist, assistanceaide - one who gives assistance 
ail - to suffer poor healthale - a beverage 
air - atmosphereere - beforeheir - one who inherits property 
aisle - a passageI'll - contraction of I willisle - island
allusion - an indirect referenceillusion - false appearance 
altar - table in a churchalter - to change 
ate - past tense of eateight - the number 8 
bail - to clear waterbail - release of a prisonerbale - a large bundle
band - a ring, something that bindsband - a groupbanned - prohibited
bare - uncoveredbear - large animalbear - support, yield
bases - starting pointsbases - four stations on a baseball fieldbasis - a basic principle
beat - to strike, overcomebeat - exhaustedbeet - a plant with red roots
blew - past tense of blowblue - the color 
bread - baked food itembred - produced 
buy - purchaseby - near, throughbye - goodbye


Practice in Using Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs (A - B)

Complete each of the following sentences by filling in the blank with the correct word. (You'll find the answers at the end of the exercise.)
 

  1. “He simply sat down on the ledge and forgot everything _____ [accept or except] the marvelous mystery.”
    (Lawrence Sargent Hall, "The Ledge." The Hudson Review, 1960)
     
  1. "I live in the Oakland Hills in a tiny house on a street so windy you can’t drive more than ten miles per hour. I rented it because the _____ [ad or add] said this: 'Small house in the trees with a garden and a fireplace. Dogs welcome, of course.'"
    (Pam Houston, Waltzing the Cat. Washington Square Press, 1999)
     
  2. "Francis wondered what _____ [advice or advise] a psychiatrist would have for him."
    (John Cheever, "The Country Husband." The New Yorker, 1955)
     
  3. "The _____ [aid or aide] gets out of the way, picking her skirt out of the rubble of children at her feet."
    (Rosellen Brown, "How to Win." The Massachusetts Review, 1975)
     
  4. "He seemed to want to recapture the cosseted feeling he'd had when he'd been sick as a child and she would serve him flat ginger _____ [ail or ale], and toast soaked in cream, and play endless card games with him, using his blanket-covered legs as a table."
    (Alice Elliott Dark, "In the Gloaming." The New Yorker, 1994)
     
  5. "He sat down and leaned forward, pulling the chair's rear legs into the _____ [air, ere, or heir] so that the waitress could get by."
    (Stanley Elkins, "Criers and Kibitzers, Kibitzers and Criers." Perspective, 1962)
     
  6. "[T]he stewardess was moving down the _____ [aisle, I'll, or isle], like a trained nurse taking temperatures in a hospital ward, to see that they were all properly strapped in for the take-off."
    (Martha Gellhorn, "Miami-New York." The Atlantic Monthly, 1948)
     
  1. "Mrs. Parmenter laughed at his _____ [allusion or illusion] to their summer at Mrs. Sterrett's, in Rome, and gave him her coat to hold."
    (Willa Cather, "Double Birthday." Uncle Valentine and Other Stories, 1986)
     
  2. "In the long years between, she had fashioned many fine dresses—gowned gay girls for their conquests and robed fair brides for the _____ [altar or alter]."
    (Mary Lerner, "Little Selves." The Atlantic Monthly, 1915)
     
  3. "On a Saturday morning soon after he came to live with her, he turned over her garbage while she was at the grocery store and _____ [ate or eight] rancid bacon drippings out of a small Crisco can."
    (Pam Durban, "Soon." The Southern Review, 1997)
     
  4. "The barn was bigger than a church, and the fall's fresh hay _____ [bails or bales] were stacked to the roof in the side mows.:
    (John Updike, My Father's Tears. Knopf, 2009)
     
  1. "Her two spare dresses were gone, her comb was gone, her checkered coat was gone, and so was the mauve hair-_____ [band or banned] with a mauve bow that had been her hat."
    (Vladimir Nabokov, "'That in Aleppo Once . . .'" The Atlantic Monthly, 1944)
     
  2. "Without the shelter of those trees, there is a great exposure—back yards, clotheslines, woodpiles, patchy sheds and barns and privies—all _____ [bare or bear], exposed, provisional looking."
    (Alice Munro, "Meneseteung." The New Yorker, 1989)
     
  3. "This was the time when outfields were larger than they are today and well-hit balls would roll for a long time, giving runners ample time to round the _____ [bases or basis] for a home run."
    (Deidre Silva and Jackie Koney, It Takes More Than Balls. Skyhorse, 2008)
     
  4. "The conductor had his knotted signal cord to pull, and the motorman _____ [beat or beet] the foot gong with his mad heel."
    (Saul Bellow, "A Silver Dish." The New Yorker, 1979)
     
  5. "Nancy held the cup to her mouth and _____ [blew or blue] into the cup."
    (William Faulkner, "That Evening Sun Go Down." The American Mercury, 1931)
     
  6. "A pigeon landed nearby. It hopped on its little red feet and pecked into something that might have been a dirty piece of stale _____ [bread or bred] or dried mud."
    (Isaac Bashevis Singer, "The Key." A Friend of Kafka, 1979)
     
  7. "He was wearing a new hat of a pretty biscuit shade, for it never occurred to him to _____ [buy, by, or bye] anything of a practical color; he had put it on for the first time and the rain was spoiling it."
    (Katherine Anne Porter, "Theft." The Gyroscope, 1930)
     

    Answers to the Exercise

    1. except  2. ad  3. advice  4. aide  5. ale  6. air  7. aisle  8. allusion  9. altar  10. ate  11. bales  12. band  13. bare  14. bases  15. beat  16. blew  17. bread  18. buy