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Spanish Homophones

Avoid Confusion Among Words That Sound Alike

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Because Spanish is written much more phonetically than is English, Spanish has far fewer homophones — different words that are pronounced the same although they may be spelled differently — than does English. But Spanish homophones and homographs (two different words that are spelled the same, which in Spanish means they also are pronounced the same) do exist, and it is helpful to learn them if you hope to spell correctly.

Some of the Spanish homophone pairs are spelled alike, except that one of the words uses an accent to distinguish it from the other. For example, the definite article el, which usually means "the," and the pronoun él, which usually means "he" or "him," are written alike except for the accent. There are also homophone pairs that exist because of a silent h or because certain letters or letter combinations are pronounced alike.

Here are most of the common homographs and homophones of Spanish, as well as some of the uncommon ones, each with a common definition. The definitions given are not the only ones possible. Note: An asterisk before a word pair indicates that the words sound alike in some regions but are distinguished from each other elsewhere.

  • a (first letter of the alphabet), a (to), ha (conjugated form of haber)
  • ama, amo (owner, master/mistress), ama, amo (conjugated forms of amar, to love)
  • * arrollo (conjugated form of arrollar, to roll up), arroyo (stream)
  • * asar (to roast), azar (chance, fate)
  • * Asia (Asia), hacia (toward)
  • asta (mast), hasta (until)
  • barón (baron), varón (man)
  • baile (dance), baile (type of judge)
  • basta (enough), basta (coarse), vasta (vast)
  • basto (coarse), vasto (vast)
  • bazar (bazaar), vasar (kitchen shelf)
  • be (phonetic spelling of the letter b), ve (phonetic spelling of the letter v)
  • bello (beautiful), vello (bird down)
  • bienes (property), vienes (conjugated form of venir, to come)
  • bis (encore), vis (force)
  • calle (street), calle (conjugated form of callar, to silence)
  • * calló (conjugated form of callar, to silence), cayó (conjugated form of caer, to fall)
  • * casa (house), caza (conjugated form of cazar, to hunt)
  • * cazo (saucepan), cazo (conjugated form of cazar, to hunt)
  • * ce (phonetic spelling of the letter c), se (reflexive pronoun), (conjugated form of saber, to know)
  • * cebo (bait), sebo (fat)
  • * cegar (to blind), segar (to cut off)
  • * cepa (vine), sepa (conjugated form of saber, to know)
  • * cerrar (to close), serrar (to saw)
  • * cesión (cession), sesión (meeting)
  • * cesto (basket), sexto (sixth)
  • * cien (hundred), sien (temple of the head)
  • * ciento (hundred), siento (conjugated form of sentir, to feel)
  • * cima (summit), sima (chasm)
  • * cocer (to cook), coser (to sew)
  • copa (cup), copa (conjugated form of copar, to win)
  • de (of, from), de (phonetic spelling of the letter d), (conjugated form of dar, to give)
  • el (the), él (he, him, it)
  • errar (to make a mistake), herrar (to put horseshoes on)
  • ese (that), ese (phonetic spelling of the letter s), ése (that)
  • flamenco (Flemish, a dance), flamenco (flamingo)
  • fui, fuiste, fue, etc. (conjugated forms of ser, to be), fui, fuiste, fue, etc. (conjugated forms of ir, to go)
  • grabar (to record), gravar (to worsen)
  • * halla (conjugated form of hallar, to find), haya (conjugated form of haber, to have)
  • * has (conjugated form of haber, to have), haz (conjugated form of hacer, to do)
  • hierba or yerba (herb), hierva (conjugated form of hervir, to boil)
  • hierro (iron), yerro (mistake)
  • hojear (to leaf through), ojear (to look at)
  • honda (deep), honda (sling), onda (wave)
  • hola (hello), ola (wave)
  • hora (hour), ora (conjugated form of orar, to pray), ora (correlative conjunction usually translated as "now")
  • * hoya (hole in ground), olla (cooking pot)
  • * hozar (to move dirt around with one's snout), osar (to dare)
  • huno (Hunnish), uno (one)
  • huso (spindle), uso (utilization)
  • la (the, her, it), la (note of the musical scale)
  • * lisa (smooth), liza (battle)
  • mal (bad), mall (shopping mall)
  • mas (but), más (more)
  • * masa (mass), maza (club used as weapon)
  • * mesa (table), meza (conjugated form of mecer, to rock)
  • mi (my), mi (note of the musical scale), (me)
  • mora (Moorish), mora (blackberry)
  • o (letter of the alphabet), o (or)
  • oro (gold), oro (conjugated form of orar, to pray)
  • papa (potato), Papa (pope)
  • * pollo (chicken), poyo (stone bench)
  • polo (pole as of a magnet or planet), polo (polo)
  • * poso (sediment), pozo (well, shaft)
  • puya (goad), puya (puya, a type of plant found primarily in the Andes)
  • que (who, that), qué (what, how)
  • * rasa (conjugated form of rasar, to skim), raza (race or ethnicity)
  • rebelarse (to rebel), revelarse (to reveal oneself)
  • recabar (to ask for), recavar (to dig again)
  • * rallar (to grate), rayar (to make lines on)
  • sabia (wise female), savia (vitality)
  • sol (sun, unit of Peruvian currency), sol (note of the musical scale)
  • solo (alone), sólo (only)
  • si (if), (yes)
  • * sumo (supreme), zumo (juice)
  • * tasa (rate), taza (cup)
  • te (you), te (phonetic spelling of the letter t), (tea)
  • ti (you), ti (note of the musical scale)
  • tu (your), (you)
  • tubo (pipe), tuvo (conjugated form of tener, to have)
  • vino (wine), vino (conjugated form of venir, to come)
Most of the word pairs where the two words are closely related but are distinguished in usage by an orthographic accent are not included in the above list. Among them are cual/cuál, como/cómo, este/éste, aquel/aquél, cuanto/cuánto, donde/dónde, o/ó and quien/quién.

Also not included are nouns that are written the same as a conjugated form of a related verb. For example, habla can be a noun meaning "language" or "speech," but the word obviously is a close relative of the verb hablar, to speak.

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