Commonly confused homophones

Two words that sound the same when they are pronounced are called homophones.

Homophones have different meanings. They may also have different spellings. There are several homophones in English and they are often confused.

There / They’re / Their

There is an adverb. It indicates location.

  • There is a spider on the roof.
  • There are holes in my tights.

Sometimes ‘there is’ is written as ‘there’s’. In the same way, ‘there are’ can be written as ‘there’re’.

  • There’re few apples on the tree. (= There are few apples on the tree.)

Their and theirs

They are both possessive words. Their is a possessive adjective. It goes before a noun.

  • I have been to their home. (Here the possessive adjective ‘their’ modifies the noun home.)
  • They live with their parents.

Theirs is a possessive pronoun. It is not followed by a noun.

  • That blue car is theirs. OR Their car is blue.

They’re

They’re is the contraction for they are.

  • They’re my friends. (= They are my friends.)

Two/Too/To

Two is a numeral adjective.

  • He owns two cars.
  • I have two children.

Too

Too is an adverb. It can mean ‘more than enough’.

  • I ate too much.
  • It is too late.

Too can also mean ‘likewise’. In this case, it can act as a substitute for the words also and as well.

Compare:

  • I like reading. I also like writing.
  • I like reading. I like writing too.
  • He can play the violin. He can also play the guitar.
  • He can play the violin. He can play the piano too.
  • He can play the violin. He can play the guitar as well.

Note that too and as well usually go at the end of a clause.

To

To can be a preposition. It shows direction.

  • I am going to the market.

To can also be used as an infinitive marker.

  • I want to go.
  • I would like to understand his motives.

Whether / Weather / Wether

Weather is a conjunction. It means more or less the same as if.

  • I don’t know whether she will come. (= I don’t know if she will come.)

Weather

The word weather is used to refer to the state of atmosphere at a particular time and place.

Wether is not a real word.

Then/Than

Then is an adverb. It refers to time and order.

  • I waited till six. Then I went home.
  • The last bus has gone. Then we will have to walk home.

Than is used to compare things.

  • Walking is healthier than cycling.
  • I am better than you.

Its/It’s

These words are always confused probably because we associate the apostrophe with possession.

It’s is not a possessive word. It is the contracted form of it is or it has.

  • It’s my bag. (= It is my bag.)
  • It’s gone. (= It has gone.)

Its is a possessive word.

  • The cat has had its kittens.

 

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