This week, we’re going to explain the differences between an additional half dozen sets of English homophones. Recall from our last lesson that homophones are words with identical pronunciations but different spellings and different meanings. The distinction between or among homophones is essentially irrelevant in spoken language but vital in written language.
Ant and Aunt
An ant is a type of small insect. An aunt, on the other hand, is a sister of your father or mother or your uncle’s wife.
The picnic was fun, but the ants wouldn’t leave our food alone.
Aunt Sally always gives me socks for Christmas.
Brake and Break
A brake is a device for stopping a moving vehicle. “To brake” means to stop a vehicle by using its brakes. A break is an interruption or pause in work activity. When something breaks it separates into pieces as a result of a blow, shock, or strain. Break can also mean “to interrupt” in a more general sense.
Susie’s car was hit when the driver behind her failed to brake in time to avoid an accident.
The impact caused the rear bumper to break into several pieces.
Hare and Hair
A hare is a rabbit. Hair (singularly or collectively) refers to what grows on the top of your head and elsewhere on your body.
The hare lost the race because of his overconfidence.
Julie has extremely thick, wavy hair.
Hear and Here
The verb hear means “to perceive a sound with your ears.” It can also be used more generally to indicate that you are informed or aware of something. The adverb here means “at this point, in this place, etc.”
Did you hear that the meeting has been moved to the conference room?
Let’s meet back here at three o’clock.
One and Won
One is the cardinal number for the Arabic numeral “1.” Won is the past tense of “win,” meaning to have been successful or to have achieved victory.
There is only one cookie left. Do you mind if I have it?
Maria won the final game of bingo last night.
To, Too, and Two
To is a preposition expressing direction of motion or indicating the person or thing affected. Too means “also” or “excessively.” Two is the cardinal number for the Arabic numeral “2.”
Robert gave the weekly report to his supervisor.
The report was very thorough but contained too much irrelevant information.
Please print two copies of the report.