It's a really funny word. So what does it mean?
A cell phone for homosexuals? Hardly.
A new yaoi or yuri fanfic site? Neat idea, but no.
A new service where they only have one plan? Umm, no.
In plain English, homophones are words that sound alike, but have completely different meanings and they're usually spelled differently too. They're also some of the most abused words in the English language. There's a lot of them too, which we'll cover in later chapters. As long as you spell them right, even a spell-checker won't pick them up. Overall, I think a beta reader is probably the best way to check or double-check for these.
So let's get started.
One of the most common examples is there, their, and they're.
Try it. Say each of those words out loud. You shouldn't hear any difference between them. These are homophones. They're not the same word and one can't be used in place of the other.
#1: There -- This one refers to a place.
- "You can put your things over there."
- "Let's meet there tomorrow."
- "If you need it, there are some spare kunai in the drawer."
See? All those refer to a place or location. You can put your stuff in a certain spot. You and your friends are going to meet in a specific place tomorrow. For my fellow Narutards, I have some extra kunai in the top drawer of my desk. =]P
#2: Their -- This one is used to express possession. No, not with ghosts or demons. Things, items, ideas. Things that someone or a group of people can own.
- "Their idea of the perfect body makes me want to give the poor girl a sandwich."
- "Oh, that's their dog."
- "Kakashi? He's their sensei."
All those refer to something that belongs to someone or a group of someones. Some people have the idea that women have to be super-skinny to be attractive. The neighbors own a dog, which happens to be pooping in your yard. Kakashi is Team 7's teacher or sensei.
#3: They're -- This is a contraction of "they are". A really good way to check for this one is to split it into "they are" and then say the sentence out loud. If it still makes sense, you have to right word.
- "They're going to the beach this weekend."
- "Gawd! They're such snobs!"
- "So they're going to go find Sasuke?"
In those examples, "they're" could be safely separated into "they are" and the sentence would still make sense. A little more formal or more emphasized, depending on how you said it.
If you're ready for a challenge, try this quiz. Don't bother cheating. I won't know unless you tell me. =)