Categories: Education

Homophones, Homonyms, And Homographs – Oh My!

Homo-what? No, they have nothing at all to do with sexual preference. Homophones, homonyms, and homographs are different types of words that can be confusing based on their spellings, meanings, and/or pronunciations. Homo comes from the Greek word meaning “same” (it’s in Latin that homo means “man”). The spellings, meanings, and/or pronunciations of all these homo-words are the same or similar. Here is a closer look at each type of word, in order to help you sort out and potential confusion.

Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation, but they have different meanings, and they may or may not be spelled the same. Here are some common examples of homophones.
Air and Heir

The fresh air feels great.
The heir to the throne is Prince William.
Waste and Waist

Can you please throw out the waste from the trash can?
That diet has helped you lose a lot of inches around your waist.
To, Two, and Too

Are you going to see the play?
The play is at two o’clock.
We’re going to come and see the play, too.
Weight and Wait

The weight of the car makes it too heavy to lift without a crane.
Can you please wait for me before you go?
Rain and Reign

It is so wet outside after all that rain.
The king’s reign was long and treacherous.

Homonyms are a subset of homophones. Homonyms are words that have the same pronunciation and the same spelling, but they have different meanings. Here are some common examples of homonyms.
Fire and Fire

The boss is going to fire all of the bad employees.
The fire destroyed all the houses on the street.
Pen and Pen

The lion is kept in a giant pen at the zoo.
You should always sign your checks with a pen.
Bear and Bear

There is a giant bear living in the forest behind my house.
I can’t bear to think about breaking up with my boyfriend.
Park and Park

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Let’s all go play frisbee in the park.
You can’t park your car in the middle of the road.
Watch and Watch

Are you going to watch TV?
I bought myself a new watch at the jewelry store.

Homographs are words that are spelled the same, and they may or may not have the same pronunciation and meaning. Here are some common examples of homographs.
Wind and Wind

There is a strong wind blowing to the west.
You need to wind up that toy before it will work.
Lead and Lead

Will you lead the parade?
The old house has lead paint.
Dove and Dove

The beautiful white dove flies high in the sky.
Last summer, she dove into the swimming pool.
Live and Live

That band is awesome when they play live!
Do you always want to live in the same town?
Desert and Desert

The desert is so hot!
Don’t desert me and leave me here alone.
Wrap-Up: A Quick Guide
Homophones have the same pronunciation.
Homonyms have the same pronunciation and the same spelling.
Homographs have the same spelling.

Elain Valentine is a English major and aspiring writing teacher who understands how tough learning the quirks of English can be. She loves to blog about everything from literary education to the best grammar checkers available.

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