Pronunciation · vocabulary

Rain rein reign – Words that Sound the Same (Homophones)

As I’m writing this, it’s raining in England. But I don’t care. I’m in Tel Aviv and it’s warm and sunny!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with talk about the weather. I intended to look at some words in English that sound exactly the same. This is called homophone (literally: same sound). As you know very little in English makes sense and that’s why these words are spelt differently.

The words in the headline to this article are pronounced the same:

Rain, rein, reign

Rain – you know what this is.

Rein – the strap that you use to ride a horse (see picture).

rain rein

Rein is also a verb, which means to hold in, to restrain. Example: parents can rein in their children if they want to join the football club, the music club, the scouts, the ballet class, the art class, and another fifty hobbies, by saying: Choose only two activities. Or if the ministers of a country want to go to war, they can be reined in by the president who can say: listen, it’s not clever if we go to war now because there will be many casualties and we’ll lose the elections.

Reign – what a king or queen does, they rule = reign their country.

Checking the Pronunciation

To check the pronunciation of the words – which are all homophones – in this article, consult your dictionary. Or: look the word up in the dictionary on the internet and click on the sound icon.

Here are some more well-known homophones:

air heir

Air is the stuff we breathe.

Heir is a person who inherits = gets something from someone who has died.

our hour

“Our” means belonging to us.

An hour is 60 minutes.

pray prey

Pray is when you talk to (a) God.

Prey is what lions catch if they want to eat a nice juicy deer.

see sea

See is what you do with your eyes.

Sea is the water you swim in.

aloud allowed

Aloud is when you’re using your voice.

Allowed is when it’s okay to do something.

steel steal

Steel is the strong stuff that bridges are made of.

Steal is when a thief takes something.

weather whether

Weather is when it’s sunny, rainy, hot or cold outside.

Whether means if: She asked whether it was okay to talk now.

That’s enough for now!

In the following exercise you need to choose the right word from the word pairs at the top:

Exercise

You can do this exercise online here:

steel/steal

1 The gymnast is incredibly strong. He seems to be made of __________.

2 Do you mind if I __________ your wife for a moment?

see/sea

3 It’s the dream of many people to live in a house by the ________.

4 I _________ you still haven’t cleaned your desk.

air/heir

5 The crown prince is the _________ to the throne.

6 The mountain _________ is clean and pure.

aloud/allowed

7 Please refrain from reading the text _________.

8 No pets are __________ in the holiday apartment.

rain/rein/reign

9 Queen Elizabeth II’s __________ of 60 years was celebrated with a huge festival.

10 Looks like it is going to __________. The sky is really dark.

11 The rider pulled the __________ and the horse halted.

pray/prey

12 The worshippers bowed their heads and started to ________.

13 The crocodile devoured its ________.

our/hour

14 The time is now, and the __________ is here.

15 This is ___________ house.

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