Homophones in English are the words that have the same pronunciation but very different meanings and spellings. Air and heir are an example of a pair of homophones and cause a lot of confusion for beginners of English language and also sometimes for native speakers. Consider the sentences below:
Air as noun:
Air as verb:
Heir as noun:
His eldest son and heir was murdered.
JetBlue announced today that it will make free high-speed Wi-Fi access available on land as well as in the air as part of a fleet-wide redesign of its Airbus A320 models that make up the majority of the airline’s aircraft. (The New York Times)
Takata Corp. shares on Monday hit their lowest level since 2009 after U.S. regulators said recalls involving Takata-made air bags would expand by about five million vehicles, triggering concern over wider recall costs. (The Wall Street Journal)
When meeting Ferruccio Lamborghini Jr., the heir of the Tonino Lamborghini Group and grandson of supercar maker Ferruccio Lamborghini, it is apparent that he is extremely humble for the heir of a company that juggles $350 million from worldwide sales ― most of which comes from customers who love to flaunt their wealth. (The Korea Times)
The antitrust charge stems from an investigation into anti-competitive practices among heir location firms, which work to track down heirs who may be owed a portion of an inheritance after a distant relative dies without a will. (The Quad-City Times)
Air or heir:
Air is the invisible substance that surrounds Earth, consisting of oxygen, nitrogen and other invisible gases or the space above Earth, or to give expression to. An heir is someone legally entitled to property or a title upon a certain person’s demise. Heir may also be used figuratively to refer to someone who carries on a tradition or legacy of a predecessor. The h in heir is not pronounced, making air and heir homophones.