6 Minute Vocabulary – Homophones

In British English, Handel, the German composer who lived in London in the 1700s, and door handle are pronounced in exactly the same way. 6 Minute Vocabulary is all about these words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings.

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6 Minute Vocabulary from BBC Learning English
Neil: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary. I’m Neil.
Sophie: And I’m Sophie. Hi, Neil, I’ve got a question for you.
Neil: OK..
Sophie: What’s black and white and read all over?
Neil: What’s black and white, and red all over? I don’t know that. Go on, tell me..
Sophie: A newspaper.
Neil: Oh – I see.. so it wasn’t the colour red, but read [/red/] as in the past form of read [/ri:d/]. White paper, black writing and the ‘read all over’ bit means people read it. Very good, Sophie. You should go into comedy.
Sophie: I’m not too sure about that, Neil. Sorry for the bad joke everyone, but words that sound the same but have different meanings is actually our topic for today’s show.
Neil: That’s right – homophones, words that sound the same but have different spellings and different meanings.. Let’s listen to Mark and Jane.
Sophie: Mark’s just had an accident in the kitchen.
Neil: And here’s a question for you to think about while you listen: what has Mark got on his jeans?
Jane: What’s wrong, Mark? You look really angry.
Mark: What’s wrong, Jane?! Can’t you see? I’ve got flour all over my jeans.
Jane: You’ve got a flower on your jeans? I didn’t know you liked pretty things..
Mark: Not a flower, Jane. Flour! Look.
Jane: Ahh, Mark! You’re making me a birthday cake. Ahh.. ~
Neil: So, that’s Mark and Jane.
Sophie: And we asked you what Mark had got on his jeans.
Neil: And of course, the answer was flour. The kind of flour you use to make bread and cakes. And flour is spelt f-l-o-u-r.
Sophie: Jane thought it was a different kind of flower, f-l-o-w-e-r, the brightly coloured and sweet-smelling plant you might have in your garden.
Neil: That’s right, flour, f-l-o-u-r, and flower, f-l-o-w-e-r, are homophones – words that sound the same, but have different spellings and different meanings. Now, homophones can be difficult to learn, and the reason is because they sound exactly the same.
Sophie: That’s right. And here are some more examples..
Neil: Mail, m-a-i-l, meaning letters and parcels you send in the post, and male, m-a-l-e, the opposite of female.
Sophie: And here’s another one: right, r-i-g-h-t, the opposite of left, and write, w-r-i-t-e, like write a letter.
Neil: Here’s one: peace, p-e-a-c-e, when it’s quiet and calm, and piece, p-i-e-c-e, a part of something – a piece of cake!
Sophie: And one more: tail, t-a-i-l, the long, narrow part that sticks out of the back of an animal’s body and tale, t-a-l-e, a kind of story. What’s your favourite fairy tale, Neil?
Neil: Well, I really like The Emperor’s New Clothes. I think it’s really relevant still today. Even for grown-ups.
Sophie: It’s a great story.
6 Minute Vocabulary (Grammar) from BBC Learning English
Neil: And we’re talking about homophones.
Sophie: That’s words which are spelt differently and have different meanings, but sound the same.
Neil: And now it’s time for a quiz. I’m going to read a sentence with one of the homophones from today’s show. Try to spell the word correctly as you listen and Sophie will tell you the answers afterwards.
Sophie: Good luck!
Neil: Are you ready? Number one. Ben gave his girlfriend a flower for Valentine’s Day. Now how do you spell flower there?
Sophie: Unless she wanted to bake bread, he gave her a flower, f-l-o-w-e-r.
Neil: Correct. Well done if you got that one right. Number two. The dog is wagging its tail. How do you spell tail?
Sophie: This is part of an animal’s body, so it’s t-a-i-l.
Neil: And well done if you got that one at home. Finally: The postman put the letters on the table on the right. How do you spell right?
Sophie: The table’s on the right, not on the left, so it’s r-i-g-h-t.
Neil: Well done to everyone at home who got those right.
Sophie: And that almost brings us to the end of the programme. But before we go, here’s today’s top tip for learning vocabulary. Homophones are difficult to spell correctly when you hear them because they sound the same. So, if you think a word might be a homophone, read or listen to the words around it very carefully. That will help you get a better idea what word it is and how to spell it.
Neil: There’s more about homophones at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.
Both: Bye!


BBC 6 Minute Vocabulary

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