Whole vs Hole – What are the differences?

The English words ‘whole’ and ‘hole’ are often mistaken to be the same. It is common for English language learners to confuse these words since they are homophones and have the same pronunciation. They also function differently in a sentence. These words work as verb, noun, and adjective depending on the making of the sentences.

Whole vs Hole

The main difference between a whole and a hole is that whole is a noun and an adjective and signify entirety. On the other hand, the word hole is a noun and a verb that denotes emptiness. Although similar in pronunciations, both the words have different meanings, usage, spelling, and origin.

whole and hole

The term ‘whole’ refers to all of a thing or component. The word as an adjective refers to something whole, complete, or unbroken. This noun refers to something that has a total or an absolute amount. We may also employ it as an adverb to emphasize novelty.

A hole is a noun. In other words, it refers to an opening that runs through something. The hole is a noun as well as a verb. It alludes to a blank spot in something. Making a hole or driving into a hole can be described using the transitive word hole.

Comparison Table Between Whole and Hole

Parameters of ComparisonWholeHole
IntroductionWe can use it as a noun and an adjective in a sentence.We can use it as a noun in a sentence.
MeaningAs an adjective, it means something whole, complete, or unbroken. As a noun, it means an absolute amount of things.It refers to an opening, a hollow spot, a flaw, or a dismal place.
PronunciationIt pronounces ‘hole’, and the ‘w’ is silent.It considered all the syllables while pronouncing.
SpellingIt has similar spelling as a hole with the prefix ‘w’.Its spelling is h-o-l-e.
OriginThe word ‘whole’ comes from the Old English word ‘hal,’ which means complete, whole, undamaged, safe, sound, and straightforward.It derived a hole from the Old English word Holian, which means to scoop out or hollow out.

What is Whole?

The whole is an adjective that means all of something or the complete or entire object or thing. Examples:
Did you eat the whole pizza?
This whole thing is crazy.
The whole truth differed from the one told earlier.

As an adjective, it writes as:
The whole state mourned the death of the actor.
She showed me the whole truth.
After the ceremony, there was not a bottle left whole.

As a noun, it writes as
Four quarters make a whole.
She spent the whole of the year in the hospital.

Some commonly used synonyms of the word ‘whole’ are entire, complete, full, total, undivided, intact.
Some commonly used antonyms of the word whole are incomplete, insufficient, part, broken, partial, fractional.
Some idioms with the word are ‘as a whole’, ‘a whole heap’, the whole lot, ‘the whole picture.’

The word whole is a determiner. To talk about quantity, we use entire before nouns and after other determiners (my, the, a/an, their). It is a term we use to characterize a thing that is complete: I have wanted to be a good son my whole life.

What is Hole?

A hole refers to an opening, a hollow spot, a flaw, or a dismal place. It can be a hole in anything that leads to the other side or a hollow in something.
‘Hole’ is a verb that means ‘to have a hole in something.’ It, however, is limited to ships and boats (e.g., the torpedo holed the cruise).

A hole is a noun. Examples: There is a big hole in your sock.
The labour is digging a hole in the ground.
There is a hole in the doughnut.
The word ‘hole’ finds usage in idioms such as Full of Holes and Hole Up. That both ‘hole’ and ‘hollow’ begin with an ‘h’ is a handy way to recall the distinction.

As a noun, it writes as
That road is full of holes.
He escaped through a hole in the wall.
That is a mouse hole.
Did you find yourself in a hole?

As a verb, it writes as:
The team was holed up in the valleys somewhere.
Some commonly used synonyms of the hole are pit, ditch, trench, depression, hollow, shaft, pothole.
Some most used antonyms of the ‘hole’ are filler, filling, patch, plug, seal, stopper, barrier, blockage, obstacle, obstruction.

Main Difference Between Whole and Hole

  • ‘Whole’ can be used both as an adjective and a noun in a sentence. You can use the hole as a noun and a verb in a sentence.
  • The adjective whole implies a complete or unbroken state. As a noun, it refers to an absolute amount or perfect thing. Holes are entrances, hollow regions, faults, or desolate areas.
  • Usually, people pronounce ‘whole’ as ‘hole’ with silent ‘w’. When pronouncing holes, they account for all syllables.
  • A ‘w’ prefix means that ‘whole’ spells along the same lines as a ‘hole’. We spell a hole as h-o-l-e.
  • ‘Whole’ is derived from the Old English word ‘hal,’ which shows ‘complete, whole, undamaged, safe, sound, genuine, and straightforward.’ The term ‘hole’ comes from the Old English word ‘Holian,’ which means ‘to scoop out’ or ‘to hollow out.’


These words used in the same sentence are:
I spent the whole afternoon trying to sew the hole in my shirt.
The whole premise of Alice in Wonderland is that a girl falls down a rabbit hole and begins an adventure.

We won’t go into the reasons several English letters are silent. Several English words begin with ‘Wh-‘ such as ‘whole.’
Despite the absence of a ‘w’ at the beginning, the word ‘hole’ is pronounced the same way in English.
However, the terms whole and hole have different meanings, so never write them interchangeably in writing.

Since these words are so similar written, spellcheckers will not flag either term as incorrect, so you need to look out for accidental typos.


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