A homophone is a word that has the same sound as another word, but has a different meaning, for example:

   there   and    their
   here   and    hear
   witch   and    which

Homophones are also called sound-alikes.

These are often used in jokes …. these are called puns.

C and S

Some words, such as licence and license sound the same but are spelt differently.

They are spelt with a ‘c’ when they are used as a noun (an object such as a fish or a box) or with an ‘s’ when they are used as a verb (a doing word).

For example:
Tim will practise playing tennis for an hour a day       (used as a verb)
Tim’s serve needs practice(used as a noun)

Tonight Billy’s father is going to advise Billy(used as a verb)
Billy’s father gave Billy some advice about birds   (used as a noun)
The book contained some good advice(used as a noun)

Nouns are spelt with a ‘c’ and verbs are spelt with a ‘s’ - it goes in alphabetical order.

ie and ei

The well known rule for this is:
i before e except after c

i before e:    Thief, view, field and shield
except after c:   ceiling, receive, receipt

There are some exceptions:

      Science, society
      Weird, height, seize

Tricky endings

Ence and -ance (-ent and -ant)

Words ending in ence or ance are usually adjectives, and
words ending in ent or ant are usually nouns

      He is important,
      He is different

      Karl knew the importance of the letter

There are some exceptions, such as:

      Conference, reference

-ery /-ary

These two endings can sometimes be confused, but there are more words that end in -ery:


Stationary is when something isn’t moving, and
stationery refers to pencils, pens and paper

er, re and or

er and re

You have a parking meter or a thermometer, but a metre is a unit of length.

We go to see plays in a theatre.

In America, they always spell the words meter and theater.

Adding -er to make a verb

Sometimes -er is added to a verb to create a noun about a doing person

      Help  >>>  Helper
      Walk  >>>Walker
      Bake  >>>Baker

Exercise: It can be fun to make new verbs from nouns. Try some for fun!


Words that end in -or often refer to people’s job:


Difficult Words

These words are often confused:

Diary and dairy
Smudge wrote in her diary:
... the cows walked into the dairy ...

Affect / effect

The rain did not affect the result of the race
              'affect' could be replaced by the word 'change'

The effect of the rain was to make the track wet
              'effect' could be replaced by the word 'result'

Principle / principal

       The principal of the college was very old      a person
       It was a matter of principle      a rule

Quiet / quite

It is quiet in the countryside

It can be quite warm in summer

Sentence is always spelled with two ‘e’s:
The thief was given a long sentence
The sentence contained a lot of punctuation errors

Exercise: Create sentences with the following words;

            Aloud / allowed

            There / their

            Weather / whether