'Boarders’ or ‘Borders’: What’s the Difference?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on September 13, 2022

If you are currently stuck and wondering whether you should use 'boarders' or 'borders,' you've come to the right place.

  • 'Boarders' is a noun that has several meanings. It is most commonly used to refer to a person who lodges at another person's home and pays them money in return for regular meals.
  • 'Borders' can be both a noun and a verb and also has more than one meaning. The most common one is the political line between countries.

Continue reading this article if you want to learn about all the definitions of these two words and know how to use them in a sentence.

When to Use 'Boarders' or 'Borders'

Let's begin by exploring the different meanings of each word and how you can use them in a sentence.

What Does 'Boarders' Mean?

The word 'boarders' with an 'a' can mean a few different things, but it is always a noun. Read on for its various definitions.

A lodger

The first and most common meaning of the word 'boarder' refers to a person who pays to lodge at another person's house and receive regular home-cooked meals. Let's see the word used in a sentence:

I'm currently looking for a boarder to make some extra cash. Room and three meals a day included.

The noun was derived from the verb 'board' and has been around since the 1520s.

Knowing this meaning of the word, what would you say a 'boarding school' is?

Did you guess? It's a school where students can sleep and receive their meals.

A rider

'Boarders' can also refer to people who undertake activities that use a board - such as snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing, or paddleboarding.

I love going to the Alps in the Winter - the slopes are perfect for boarders.

Sometimes it can be helpful to specify which kind of boarder you are referring to if it is not apparent. In the example above, your interlocutor can infer that you are talking about a snowboarder. Let us show you an example where it might not be so clear:

Every year, thousands of new borders take up the sport.

As you can see, it is difficult to infer which kind of sport you are referring to. Let's add a sentence to this statement to clarify.

Paddleboarding is an increasingly popular pastime. Every year, thousands of new borders take up the sport.

Note that people who ride skateboards are often referred to as 'skaters,' but using the word in this sense will still be valid.

What Does 'Borders' Mean?

As mentioned earlier, the word 'borders' without an 'a' has several different meanings. Not only that but it can be used both as a noun and a verb. Let's break down the various meanings of the word here below.

'Borders' as a Noun

As a noun, the word 'borders' can refer to one of two things:

The boundary between two countries
The outer edge of something

That first definition is pretty straightforward. Borders mark the separation between countries. For example:

Remember to take your passport - you'll need it at the border to get into Canada.

The second definition is also reasonably straightforward, although it is important to mention that it can be used in various situations. Whenever you want to refer to the outer edge of something, you can use the word 'border.'

Let's see some instances of the word used in a sentence:

  • She knitted the quilt by herself - it is made of soft white cotton with a beautiful cream lace border.
  • The letter paper has a colorful border around the edges.
  • My mom said I'm not allowed outside the neighborhood's borders - it's too dangerous.

'Borders' as a Verb

For the most part, 'borders' as a verb has the same meanings as described above for the noun.

  • The U.S.A. borders Canada.
  • A beautiful cream lace borders the quilt.
  • A colorful strip borders the letter paper.
  • A row of trees borders the neighborhood.

The verb border has an additional meaning, and it is to resemble closely. For example, imagine you went to a comedy show and enjoyed most of the jokes but found some of them to be somewhat questionable; you might say:

I enjoyed the show but some of those jokes bordered on offensive.

A Word on Homophones

So why do the words' boarders' and 'borders' sound the same if they have different meanings? The reason for that is that they are homophones. Let's spend a little time looking into this concept.

'Boarders' or 'Borders' - Are They Interchangeable?

As we have seen, the two words have completely separate meanings. As such, they are not interchangeable. Therefore you cannot decide to use 'boarders' or 'borders' depending on your preference. You must pick the correct word to use based on the context.

The two words may sound identical, but notice that they are spelled differently. They also have completely different meanings. That is because they are homophones.

See the following example that makes use of both words in the same sentence and highlights the fact that they have different meanings:

The boarders decided to take a holiday together, but they ran into a bit of trouble when they arrived at the border - they had forgotten their passports.

What Are Homophones?

Homophones are two words that sound identical but have different meanings.

'Boarders' and 'borders' are perfect examples of homophones. When you say the words, they sound the same. However, they do not mean the same thing.

Here are some more examples of homophones:

  • sea/see
  • brake/break
  • sun/son
  • right/write
  • flour/flower

The homophones above have different spellings, but there are also words with the same spellings that are pronounced the same. These are called homonyms. Here are some examples:

  • second/second
  • bark/bark
  • bear/bear
  • cabinet/cabinet

And then there are homographs - words that are written the same but sound different and have different meanings.

  • bow/bow
  • polish/Polish
  • close/close
  • lead/lead

Commonly Confused Homonyms

There are some homonyms in the English language that are often confused. This results in them being misspelled. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • affect/effect
  • they’re/their/there
  • are/our
  • except/accept
  • to/too
  • you're/your

If you want to stand out with your English skills, we recommend identifying the homonyms above and understanding them so that you'll spell them accurately.

Final Thoughts on 'Boarders' or 'Borders'

Now that you've read this article, we hope you feel you better understand the difference between the two words and when to use which - 'boarders' or 'borders.'

Remember, 'boarder' refers to a lodger or someone who practices a sport with a board; 'border' refers to the outer edge of a thing, area or country.

These two words are homonyms.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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