200 Of The Most Common Business Homophones

200 Of The Most Common Business Homophones

Being aware of the many homophones than can be used in business is very important.

Imagine this scenario.

It’s Monday morning and you receive an e-mail from your project leader about the new robotics line:

 

Hi,

Hope you had a great weekend. Just letting you know that we’ve chosen steal for the new design. Trust you’re on board.

 

So, now you’re re-reading the e-mail, for the third time, and wondering if your colleague is a shameless thief who has now left a record of his intent to copy a competitor’s design. You’re thinking that if this is the case, he really should pay attention to his grammar and remember to include the to next time. Then, your common sense sinks in and you realize that he actually meant to write the word steel and was innocently referring to the commodity metal from which the radiators will be made.

 

Your fictional colleague most likely allowed his word processing software to select the incorrect homophone during a spellcheck run. Steal and steel are pronounced identically but have completely different meanings, hence the entire context of the e-mail could be totally misinterpreted.

 

What are homonyms?

Homonyms are words that are spelled or pronounced the same, but which have different meanings. Within the category are two types:

  1. Homophones: Words that sound the same or similar, are spelled differently, and have a different meaning
  2. Homographs: Words that are spelled the same but have a different meaning. The words may sound different or the same.

 

Why is it so important to recognize homophones?

Homophones are particularly tricky because they’re so easy to miss. Unlike a misplaced consonant which is underlined with the famous red squiggle, a homonym used in an inappropriate context will be rarely identified by a common spellchecking program.

 

 

Homophones

 

In some cases, spelling mistakes in professional correspondence might be overlooked. In others, they can have quite some negative consequences for the writer and sometimes the organization that he or she represents. Paying close attention to spelling and grammar is extremely important in the business world as it’s easy to lose credibility with the simplest of errors. For instance, a 2011 BBC article brings light to an entrepreneur who claims spelling errors lead to millions in losses for the UK online market. It is quoted that “sales figures suggest misspellings put off consumers who could have concerns about a website’s credibility.”

 

Homophones

 

Homophone Practice

To help you avoid some common English vocabulary mix-ups, we’ve composed 100 sentences for some homophone practice. Just fill in the blanks with the appropriate word then scroll down for the answers.

If you’d like to download the pdf version, click on this link: Homophone Practice

Have fun!

 

A great wine is a perfect __________ to a delicious steak. (Complement/compliment)
He __________ us to bankruptcy by purchasing 10,000 tonnes of lead. (Lead/led)
It took my father 30 years to __________ up this company to where it is. (Billed/build)
I work in a __________ which offers a nice degree of privacy. (Cubical/cubicle)
An entity set up in Ireland receives many __________ benefits. (Tax/tacks)
Details of the merger were __________ last Friday. (Discussed/disgust)
Oil is quite __________ at the moment, so our utility bill is relatively low. (Cheap/cheep)
We are planning to __________ the start-up. (Buy/by/Bye)
We are not __________ to use our mobile phones in the production area. (Allowed/Aloud)
The corporation had to divest of some __________. (Capital/capitol)
I __________ be able to make it for the trials. I will let you know on Thursday. (Might/mite)
I worked on this presentation in __________. I never got the opportunity to present. (Vain/vein)
My boss does not often __________ good work. (Praise/preys)
Our goal this year is to earn a __________. (Profit/prophet)
__________, I propose to reduce the level of investment in R&D to $500 million. (Finally/finely)
We need to __________ for his approval before moving ahead. (Wait/weight)
The __________ problem is that we don’t have enough people dedicated to this project. (Main/mane)
In the __________, it was not possible to work from home. (Passed/past)
Markus has __________ 2,000 units this month. That’s a new record! (Sold/soled)
I will have __________ of mind when I receive his confirmation. (Peace/piece)
He’s a __________ wolf. He rarely speaks with anybody in the office. (Loan/lone)
These new safety measures will __________ a successful quality audit. (Ensure/insure)
For a healthy mind, it’s important to __________ regularly. (Exercise/exorcise)
A car policy needs to be __________ to all employees, regardless of their position in the company. (Fair/fare)
He’s very strategic and __________ looking. (Foreword/forward)
Before presenting to the board, you need to get the __________ straight. (Facts/fax)
John __________ the meeting. (Missed/mist)
A large cup of coffee is an essential part of my __________ routine. (Morning/mourning)
The vehicles __________ the emissions test. (Passed/past)
__________ is the nearest train station? (Wear/where)
It’s not acceptable to use the office phone for __________ use. (Personal/personnel)
His __________ worked for the same company 20 years ago. (Farther/father)
How much will it cost to __________ the production facility? (Ensure/insure)
I need to urgently __________ a report on what has happened. (Right/write)
The site manager decided to __________ the equipment. (Sell/cell)
Did you __________ the news about the takeover? (Hear/here)
Last month, all employees took a __________ in influence management. (Coarse/course)
What are the terms of the __________? (Loan/lone)
__________ was no reason for __________ outburst. (Their/there)
I would __________ you to get some __________ from a lawyer. (Advice/ Advise)
Our office expenses can’t be __________ than last year’s. (Higher/hire)
Everything he said was a __________. (Lie/lye)
The flight __________ from Brussels to New York is much too expensive.(Fair/fare)
We need to lift employee __________ around here. Any ideas? (Moral/morale)
In Japanese custom, the __________ period is 49 days after a person passes away. (Morning/mourning)
The filing room can only be entered by __________. (Personal/personnel)
The layoffs will surely have an __________ on employee motivation. (Affect/ Effect)
One needs a lot of __________ to make it through Mary’s 90 slide PowerPoint presentation.  (Patience/patients)
I don’t think anybody uses __________ machines anymore. (Facts/fax)
It’s customary to __________ a suit when visiting customers. (Wear/where)
During the crisis, the CEO __________ any questions about cost cutting. (Alluded/eluded)
Please send me a __________ by e-mail. (Confirmation/conformation)
The consultant __________ us for the lunch we invited him to. (Billed/build)
We have 3 very __________ topics we will need to discuss today. They are not at all related. (Discreet/discrete)
__________ let me know if that works for you. (Pleas/please)
The year-end __________ will be done before the board. (Review/revue)
The chemical company generates toxic __________. (Waist/waste)
He was the only one not wearing a __________. (Soot/suit)
The executives were __________ for embezzlement. (Persecute/prosecute)
The manager’s decision to fire the worker after his first tardiness in 5 years was __________. (Undo/undue)
I took the fact that he used my prototype at the conference as a great __________. (Complement/compliment)
My work shoes need to be __________. There’s almost a hole in the left one. (Sold/soled)
He spent 30 minutes of the meeting reading his slides __________. (Allowed/Aloud)
I will provide you with a __________ pass to the conference. (Guest/guessed)
How long have you been working __________? (Hear/here)
It’s necessary for him to __________ in on the issue. Without his opinion we can’t move forward. (Way/weigh)
I would have never __________ that he was the CEO. (Guest/guessed)
I would appreciate your __________ on this matter. (Incite/insight)
Do you __________ why he said __________ to the request? (Know/no)
He was born to __________. (Lead/led)
There was a __________ error in the figures. (Miner/minor)
After hearing the news, I felt like I was in a complete __________. (Days/daze)
I was __________ that the deal would surely close. (Told/tolled)
__________ the end of this year, our sales will have grown __________ 25%. (Buy/by/Bye)
My mentor is my __________. I can tell him absolutely anything. (Confident/confidant)
It’s important to have clear __________ and responsibilities in an organization. (Roles/rolls)
__________ of the managers had no idea about the change in policy. (Some/sum)
For the duration of the event, the president stayed in his hotel __________. (Suite/sweet)
Despite his __________, his position was cut. (Pleas/please)
We are looking to __________ a new office manager. (higher/hire)
Our company employs 326 adult __________ in Africa. (Miners/minors)
After much insistence, I __________ to his proposal. (Acceded / Exceeded)
We __________ our budget by $2 million. (Acceded / Exceeded)
__________ issues can affect employee performance. (Affect/ Effect)
I wanted to cancel the meeting, __________ my manager insisted on having it. (But/butt)
I’m __________ that he will do the job well. (Confident/confidant)
Because of the merger, we’ll be looking at a __________ of our HR policy. (Confirmation/conformation)
In Belgium, employees have 20 __________ of annual vacation. (Days/daze)
How much does a human resource manager __________? (Earn/urn)
I’m taking a __________ off. (Weak/week)
That was a __________ proposal. (Grate/great)
The __________ of the losses was staggering. (Some/sum)
The __________ of the story is never to make a promise to a customer unless you’re sure you can deliver. (Moral/morale)
There was an __________ of laughter when John finished telling his anecdote. (Eruption/irruption)
With his strong mind and impressive people skills, a successful career in this company is __________. (Immanent/imminent)
__________ way to the laboratory? (Which/witch)
We had a __________ quarter. (Weak/week)
It is important that you are __________ with the news. Don’t tell anybody. (Discreet/discrete)
When it was his __________ to talk, he completely froze. (Queue/cue)
In __________, we could add a new product line to our __________ offering. (Principal/principle)

 

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A great wine is a perfect complement to a delicious steak. (Complement/compliment)
He led us to bankruptcy by purchasing 10,000 tonnes of lead. (Lead/led)
It took my father 30 years to build up this company to where it is. (Billed/build)
Our office contains 10 cubicles, which offer a nice degree of privacy. (Cubical/cubicle)
An entity set up in Ireland receives many tax benefits. (Tax/tacks)
Details of the merger were discussed last Friday. (Discussed/disgust)
Oil is quite cheap at the moment, so our utility bill is relatively low. (Cheap/cheep)
We are planning to buy the start-up. (Buy/by/Bye)
We are not allowed to use our mobile phones in the production area. (Allowed/Aloud)
The corporation had to divest of some capital. (Capital/capitol)
I might be able to make it for the trials. I will let you know on Thursday. (Might/mite)
I worked on this presentation in vain. I never got the opportunity to present. (Vain/vein)
My boss does not often praise good work. (Praise/preys)
Our goal this year is to earn a profit. (Profit/prophet)
Finally, I propose to reduce the level of investment in R&D to $500 million. (Finally/finely)
We need to wait for his approval before moving ahead. (Wait/weight)
The main problem is that we don’t have enough people dedicated to this project. (Main/mane)
In the past, it was not possible to work from home. (Passed/past)
Markus has sold 2,000 units this month. That’s a new record! (Sold/soled)
I will have peace of mind when I receive his confirmation. (Peace/piece)
He’s a lone wolf. He rarely speaks with anybody in the office. (Loan/lone)
These new safety measures will ensure a successful quality audit. (Ensure/insure)
For a healthy mind, it’s important to exercise regularly. (Exercise/exorcise)
A car policy needs to be fair to all employees, regardless of their position in the company. (Fair/fare)
He’s very strategic and forward looking. (Foreword/forward)
Before presenting to the board, you need to get the facts straight. (Facts/fax)
John missed the meeting. (Missed/mist)
A large cup of coffee is an essential part of my morning routine. (Morning/mourning)
The vehicles passed the emissions test. (Passed/past)
Where is the nearest train station? (Wear/where)
It’s not acceptable to use the office phone for personal use. (Personal/personnel)
His father worked for the same company 20 years ago. (Farther/father)
How much will it cost to insure the production facility? (Ensure/insure)
I need to urgently write a report on what has happened. (Right/write)
The site manager decided to sell the equipment. (Sell/cell)
Did you hear the news about the takeover? (Hear/here)
Last month, all employees took a course in influence management. (Coarse/course)
What are the terms of the loan? (Loan/lone)
There was no reason for their outburst. (Their/there)
I would advise you to get some advice from a lawyer. (Advice/ Advise)
Our office expenses can’t be higher than last year’s. (Higher/hire)
Everything he said was a lie. Lie/lye
The flight fare from Brussels to New York is much too expensive.(Fair/fare)
We need to lift employee morale around here. Any ideas? (Moral/morale)
In Japanese custom, the mourning period is 49 days after a person passes away. (Morning/mourning)
The filing room can only be entered by personnel. (Personal/personnel)
The layoffs will surely have an effect on employee motivation. (Affect/ Effect)
One needs a lot of patience to make it through Mary’s 90 slide PowerPoint presentation.  (Patience/patients)
I don’t think anybody uses fax machines anymore. (Facts/fax)
It’s customary to wear a suit when visiting customers. (Wear/where)
During the crisis, the CEO eluded any questions about cost cutting. (Alluded/eluded)
Please send me a confirmation by e-mail. (Confirmation/conformation)
The consultant billed us for the lunch we invited him to. (Billed/build)
We have 3 very discrete topics we will need to discuss today. They are not at all related. (Discreet/discrete)
Please let me know if that works for you. (Pleas/please)
The year-end review will be done before the board. (Review/revue)
The chemical company generates toxic waste. (Waist/waste)
He was the only one not wearing a suit. (Soot/suit)
The executives were prosecuted for embezzlement. (Persecute/prosecute)
The manager’s decision to fire the worker after his first tardiness in 5 years was undue. (Undo/undue)
I took the fact that he used my prototype at the conference as a great compliment. (Complement/compliment)
My work shoes need to be soled. There’s almost a hole in the left one. (Sold/soled)
He spent 30 minutes of the meeting reading his slides aloud. (Allowed/Aloud)
I will provide you with a guest pass to the conference. (Guest/guessed)
How long have you been working here? (Hear/here)
It’s necessary for him to weigh in on the issue. Without his opinion we can’t move forward. (Way/weigh)
I would have never guessed that he was the CEO. (Guest/guessed)
I would appreciate your insight on this matter. (Incite/insight)
Do you know why he said no to the request? (Know/no)
He was born to lead. (Lead/led)
There was a minor error in the figures. (Miner/minor)
After hearing the news, I felt like I was in a complete daze. (Days/daze)
I was told that the deal would surely close. (Told/tolled)
By the end of this year, our sales will have grown by 25%. (Buy/by/Bye)
My mentor is my confidant. I can tell him absolutely anything. (Confident/confidant)
It’s important to have clear roles and responsibilities in an organization. (Roles/rolls)
Some of the managers had no idea about the change in policy. (Some/sum)
For the duration of the event, the president stayed in his hotel suite. (Suite/sweet)
Despite his pleas, his position was cut. (Pleas/please)
We are looking to hire a new office manager. (higher/hire)
Our company employs 326 adult miners in Africa. (Miners/minors)
After much insistence, I acceded to his proposal. (Acceded / Exceeded)
We exceeded our budget by $2 million. (Acceded / Exceeded)
Personal issues can affect employee performance. (Affect/ Effect)
I wanted to cancel the meeting, but my manager insisted on having it. (But/butt)
I’m confident that he will do the job well. (Confident/confidant)
Because of the merger, we’ll be looking at a conformation of our HR policy. (Confirmation/conformation)
In Belgium, employees have 20 days of annual vacation. (Days/daze)
How much does a human resource manager earn? (Earn/urn)
I’m taking a week off. (Weak/week)
That was a great proposal. (Grate/great)
The sum of the losses was staggering. (Some/sum)
The moral of the story is never to make a promise to a customer unless you’re sure you can deliver. (Moral/morale)
There was an eruption of laughter when John finished telling his anecdote. (Eruption/irruption)
With his strong mind and impressive people skills, a successful career in this company is imminent. (Immanent/imminent)
Which way to the laboratory? (Which/witch)
We had a weak quarter. (Weak/week)
It is important that you are discreet with the news. Don’t tell anybody. (Discreet/discrete)
When it was his cue to talk, he completely froze. (Queue/cue)
In principle, we could add a new product line to our principal offering. (Principal/principle)

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