Grate or Great – Homophones, Meaning & Usage

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Are you confused between the words “grate” and “great”? Don’t worry, it’s not just you. These two words sound exactly the same, and one of them has three different definitions. So, I’ll explain what “great” and “grate” mean in all their contexts and show you how to use them correctly.

Grate or Great: What’s the Difference?

Grate or Great Homophones Meaning Usage

“Grate” and “great” are clearly homophones because they sound the same when spoken. The differences are in the spelling and context.

The word “grate” can be a verb, a noun, or an adjective. As a verb, it means to shred or scrape something. As a noun, it’s the cover of a manhole or vent. And in an adjective form, it’s used to describe an unpleasant sound or experience.

  • You need to grate the cheese.
  • I need a screwdriver to remove the grate from this radiator.
  • The sound of children is so grating.

Then there’s “great,” an adjective we use to describe something of high quality or importance.

  • Catherine the Great was the reigning empress of Russia in the 1700s.
  • I think your new boyfriend is just great.

How Do You Use the Word Grate?

“Grate” is the word we often use when talking about cooking and baking, like grating cheese for pasta or carrots for a carrot cake recipe. That’s the verb form. As a noun, it’s simply a metal cover over something.

But, as I mentioned above, it can also be used as an adjective to explain a harsh, unpleasant sound, like nails on a chalkboard, or when someone’s personality just doesn’t jive with yours.

What Is the Antonym of Grate?

The antonym (or opposite) of “grate” is “smooth” in regard to the adjective. If something is smooth, it doesn’t have rough edges or bumps that can be grated.

Synonyms of Grate (Verb)

  • Scrape
  • Shred
  • Grind
  • Scratch
  • Rub

Synonyms of Grate (Noun)

  • Manhole cover
  • Metal frame
  • Metal cover

Synonyms of Grate or Grating (Adjective)

  • Annoying
  • Disturbing
  • Raking

Synonyms of Great

  • Fantastic
  • Wonderful
  • Tremendous
  • Excellent
  • Amazing

Examples of Grate in a Sentence

Grate or Great Homophones Meaning Usage 1
  • I let my daughter grate some cheese for the lasagna to get her used to help out. (verb)
  • I have to remove the metal grate to access the radiator. (noun)
  • I need to grate some carrots for the salad. (verb)
  • I hate the sound of nails on a chalkboard; the sound is so grating. (adjective) 

Examples of Great in a Sentence

  • That was a great movie! Thanks for inviting me.
  • I think our team did a great job on the project and deserves an A+.
  • My best friend has such a great sense of humor; it’s one of the reasons I love her so much.
  • My grandfather had great, thick hair until the day he died, so I’m not worried about balding.

Grated Cheese Is Great!

So, I know the word “grate” can get a little confusing with its many meanings and uses, but I hope my quick guide helped explain how you can remember the differences. And for the word “great,” just note that it only has one true meaning. That makes it easy!

Enjoyed reading about homophones? Check out some others we covered: