Help With Spelling :         
25 Easily-Confused Homonym Sets Explained

sick boy with thermometer and blanketSome patients require more patience than others!

One great way to help with spelling skills is to  learn some of the most commonly-confused sets of homonyms in the English language.  We share 25 sets here, from patience/patients  to you're/your. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.1g*

Be sure to read our first set of 25 confusing homonyms, from allowed/aloud to passed/past, as well as the 25 sets on this page.

Homonym Help With Spelling

Sets P - Y

Printable version of all our homonym sets

To provide as much help with spelling as possible, for each homonym listed, we've also included its:

  • part of speech
  • a very brief definitions
  • a sentence showing its correct usage

We used these abbreviations:

adj. – adjective   
adv. – adverb  
contr. – contraction 
n. – noun
prep. - preposition
pron. - pronoun
v. - verb

26. patience (n.) the ability to wait; The kindergarten teacher’s patience is remarkable.  patients (plural n.) people under the care of a doctor; Five patients were waiting to see the doctor.

27. peace (n.) absence of war; The longtime peace between two countries was broken by a single bullet.      piece (n.) a portion of something; He asked for just one piece of peach pie.

28. plain (adj.) clear; It was plain to everyone in the crowd that the singer had talent.      plane (n.) a carpenter’s tool, an airborne vehicle, or a flat surface; The wood carver used his plane to make the table top very smooth.

pile of presentspresents

29. presence (n.) the state of existing in a place Her presence was requested at the party.       presents (plural n.) gifts; Children love to open presents on their birthdays. 

30. principal (n.) most important, or the leader of a school; The principal wrote a new homework policy.      principle (n.) basic truth or law; Throughout life, it is wise to adhere to one’s principles.

31. rain (n.) precipitation; The rain poured down all day. (v.) drizzle, shower; The weatherman says it will rain tomorrow.       reign (n.) time in power; The king’s reign was very brief.  (v.) to rule; How long will the Queen reign?  rein (n.) a strap to control an animal; Pull on the reins when you want the horse to stop.

Please note that we’ve not included every meaning, or every part of speech for each word. We’ve used the most common meanings, ones that are most often misused. Now that's real help with spelling!

32. raise (v.) to build up; Let’s raise the sign a bit higher so it can be read more easily.       raze (v.) to tear down; The city plans to raze the vacant building.

33. right (adj.) correct; The student gave the right answer to the math question.      write (v.) to make letters; Please write you name at the top of the page.

34. road (n.) driving surface; She had difficulty keeping her car on the slippery road.     rode (v.) past tense of ride; We rode the bus for thirty minutes to get across town.

sail boatIs there a sale on sails?

35. sail (v.) travel in a boat; We plan to sail across the bay.    sale (n.) a deal or transaction; The store had a special sale on blue jeans.

36. scene (n.) the place where an event occurs; A criminal sometimes returns to the scene of the crime.  seen (v.) past participle of see; I’ve never seen so many flies!


 37. soar (v.) fly; An eagle can soar higher than many other birds.       sore (adj.) painful; My sprained knee is very sore.

38. sole (adj.) only; My dad was the sole survivor of the plane crash.  (n.) the bottom part of a foot or shoe; There's a hole in the sole of my old boot.   soul (n.) the spiritual part, or character, of a person; Those old hymns always comfort my soul.

 39. stair (n.) step; The bottom stair is broken, so please be careful when you go down.     stare (v.) to look intently in one place; I
couldn’t help but stare at the legless man.

pointed ink pen writing in cursive on paperUsing stationery

40. stationary (adj.) unmoving; You should keep the fractured finger stationary for one week.   stationery (n.) writing paper; The lawyer wrote the letter on her business stationery.

41. stake (n.) a thin pointed stick or post that is driven into the ground; Since we were missing a stake, we couldn’t finish putting up the tent.  steak (n.) a piece of meat or fish; He ordered a sirloin steak and baked potato.

Test your homonym handling with our online spelling games!

42. steal (v.) to take something without permission; Some children steal money from their mother's purses.       steel  (n.) a strong metal made of iron and carbon; Many buildings are constructed with steel frames.

 43. tail (n.) the rear part of an animal’s body; My dog wags its tail when he’s happy.   tale (n.) a story; One popular fairy tale is about a giant, a beanstalk and a boy  named Jack.

 44. their (pron.) belong to them; Their house is always clean and tidy.    there (adv.) at that place; Please put the groceries over there.      they’re (contr.) they are; They’re going to Paris for vacation.

Remember that using homonyms correctly is a great way to help with spelling skills, no matter your age! Be sure to print out the entire PDF of our list of 50 troublesome homonym sets.

45. threw (v.) past tense of throw; The kids threw the stones into the stream.    through (prep.) movement from one side to, or past, the other side; Let’s walk all the way through the dark tunnel together.

46. to (prep.) toward; We drove to the theater.     too (adv.) also; Jimmy likes pizza, too.     two (n.) a symbol for 1 plus 1; Susan spun a two in the board game.

47. waist (n.) the middle of the body; The belt was too large for her small waist.     waste (n.) discarded material; The factory’s waste products were dumped in the landfill.

48. weak (adj.) not strong; The young boy was too weak to lift the box of books.  week (n.) a seven-day period; The worker went on vacation for one week.

49. who’s (contr.) who is or who has; Who’s been drinking my soda?   whose (pron.) possessive form of who; Does anyone know whose coat is this one?

50. your (pron.) possessive form of you; It’s your turn to go first.       you’re (contr.) you are; You’re the person I want to hire.

*Find more activities aligned to the Common Core State Standards here.

More Resources for Help With Spelling

Colorful game board for Elementary Spelling Game. Fun way for kids to practice their color words!

Your students can improve spelling skills and have fun when you use some of our spelling worksheets and spelling word games.

You'll also find some great ideas to help with spelling in free our Spelling Lessons .


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