The English language is filled with words that sound alike, but have different spellings and meanings.

For the most part, it’s easy to pick the right word to use when you’re talking. However, when you have to write down the word you want to use, that’s when it gets tricky.

Words that sound alike but have different meanings are called homophones, and the English language has tons of them! To help you differentiate the most confusing ones, here’s our quick guide:

1. THAN vs. THEN

Than is used for comparisons: I am much older than my sister. 

Then is used to show the passage of time: I had breakfast, and then I started working on my project.

When you use the word than, think of the A in "comparison."

When you use the word then, think of the E in "when."

 2. HERE vs. HEAR

Here is used to indicate a location: Come here whenever you feel lonely.

Hear is a verb that indicates listening: I can’t hear your voice over the noise.

When you use the word here, think of removing the W in "where" in order to get the word "here."

When you use the word hear, think of removing the H in "hear" in order to get "ear."

3. ARE vs. OUR

Are is the present tense of "to be": The cats are sleeping on the porch.

Our is a possessive form of "we": The cats love to sleep on our porch.

When you use the word are, think of the E in "be" because it’s the present tense of "be."

When you use the word our, think of the word "ours," which indicates possession.


Weather refers to the state of the atmosphere: The weather is nice and sunny this time of year.

Whether is a conjunction that introduces choices: Please tell us whether you prefer to attend the party or stay at home.

When you use the word weather, think of the A, which stands for "atmosphere."

When you use the word whether, think of the word "which" to remind you that it's a word about making a choice.

We hope these quick and easy guides for telling homonyms apart has been helpful. We'll be writing more about confusing words, so keep checking out our blog!

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