Mastering Heterographs, Heterophones, and Homophones

Contributor: Dru Cartier. Lesson ID: 13695

Master your writing with this quick refresher on heterographs, heterophones, and homophones. Practice identifying the differences and prevent confusing conversations later.


Grammar, Writing

English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!


tough choice

  • Do you ever struggle with what words to use?
  • Is it envelope or envelop? Discrete or discreet?

passed out on computer

You are not alone!

In fact, so many people struggle with correct word usage that there are even special names for it like malapropism and eggcorn (Merriam-Webster). Yes, eggcorn.

So don't fret; just make your way through this lesson. Before you know it, you'll be perspicacious (smart) regarding your linguistic choices.

Let's get started by clearing up a few terms.


The root word, hetero, means different. Phone means sound.

So words that are heterophones are literally words that sound different.

Not just any words though. Heterophones sound different when spoken AND mean different things, even though they are spelled the same.

Some examples of heterophones include:

Heterophones are words that are spelled the same but mean different things and sound differently when spoken.


  • Remember what hetero means?

So hetero means different.

  • What about graph?

Graph means look. So heterographs are literally words that look different.

Not just any words though. Heterographs look different when written and mean different things, but they sound the same.

Some examples include:

Heterographs are words that sound the same, but they look different when written and mean different things.


The root word, homo, means same.

  • Remember what phone means?

So homophones are literally words that look the same and sound the same.

Not just any words though. Homophones look the same when written, sound the same when spoken, but mean different things.

Some examples include:

Homophones are words that sound the same when they are spoken, look the same when they are written, but mean very different things.

As you can see, understanding when to use certain words can make a big difference.

To further understand these terms and when to use them, watch Homonyms from D!NG:

Head over to the Got It? section to practice your new understanding of heterophones, heterographs, and homophones.

keep going

Elephango's Philosophy

We help prepare learners for a future that cannot yet be defined. They must be ready for change, willing to learn and able to think critically. Elephango is designed to create lifelong learners who are ready for that rapidly changing future.