Words That Sound Alike but Don't Mean the Same

A lesson learned from correct spelling: REIGN: to possess or exercise sovereign power or authority, to rule. REIN: the controlling or directing power: the straps used to guide a horse. I see these used incorrectly all the time. Maybe this will help: Because God REIGNS we can freely and gladly give Him the REINS to our lives.


I posted the above as a status on Facebook this morning—and I have received a lot of response.Reign and rein—and rain—are “homonyms” or “homophones”:  a word pronounced the same as another but differing in meaning, whether spelled the same way or not, as heir and air;

Facebook has revealed to me that there are many of these which confuse people. So as a public service I have compiled a list of some of the most commonly misused words. Enjoy.



Cite—refer to 

Your—belonging to you   

You’re—contraction of you are

Their—belonging to them   

There—a place   

They’re—contraction of they are 

Lead—heavy metal   

Led—guided/past tense of lead 

Affect--to change   



Aloud—spoken audibly 

Capital—most important/financing/seat of government (city)   

Capitol—government building 

Complement—to complete   

Compliment—to praise 

Council—group of leaders   


Principal—chief/main/head of school   

Principle—fundamental law or truth 

Yoke—oxen harness   

Yolk—yellow part of an egg 

Air—Earth’s atmosphere   

Heir--person who inherits 


I’ll--contraction of I will  


Brake--stop, push the stop pedal  

Break—smash, pause 

Holey--full of holes  

Holy--divine, pure 


Peak--highest point, mountain  

Peek—glance, quick look 

These are just a few of many.  

What others can you think of? What about you?  Which do you misuse?  Is there a spiritual lesson to be learned?