English Homonyms: What are they?

Learning about Homonyms

What are English Homonyms?

English Homonyms are the most confusing words in English. They are two words that have the same spelling and pronunciation but have different meanings. The term “homonym” comes from the prefix “homo-,” which means the same, and the suffix “-nym,” which means name. Therefore, an English homonym is a word that has the same name as another word, meaning that the two words look and sound exactly alike.

Homonyms are common English words speakers use in everyday conversation. Regularly, we always hear the words address, well, tire, bark, wear, pair, etc. However, most of the time we wonder if we correctly use them since we are not exactly sure about their meanings. Learning homonyms can be a little tricky even for geeks and confusing for ESL students.

So, in this article, we will learn about English Homonyms and why learning them is essential if you want to become a great English speaker.

Why learning Homonym is important?

As English speakers, it very important that we learn homonyms. Learning English homonyms can be a big challenge especially if you are a bookworm however, but learning then homonyms can be rewarding. Besides, it will not only improve your lexical foundation, but you can also improve your English grammar when you learn them. In an idiomatic sense, you are hitting two birds with one stone.

For example, the word address can refer to a location (noun) but somehow it can also mean to speak to (verb).

Also, consider the word bark. Bark means a tree’s outer layer (noun) but it can also refer to the sound a dog makes (noun/verb).

Looking at the example, we can conclude that you learn the word definition of the word and the part of speech that it belongs to.

Nevertheless, there is no specific technique on how we can easily learn English homonyms other than studying them and finding out their several meanings and using them constantly.

Certainly, English homonyms are easy to remember because they have the same spelling, but you need to be careful when you use them in spoken English since the stress of the word can change.

Homonyms Examples

Light

A. Opposite of dark
Mary has blue eyes and light brown hair.
B. Opposite of heavy
I could carry my luggage because it’s just pretty light.

Trip

A. A travel experience
I’m going on a business trip to London next month.
B. When your foot hits an object, and you lose balance and fall
I broke when my leg when I tripped on my shoelace yesterday.

Change

A. To transform / (noun) A transformation
The internet has changed the way people interact and communicate.
B. The money you receive back after paying more than an item costs
My friend let me kept the $5 change after I bought her a glass of lemonade.

Duck

A. A bird that likes to swim in the water
Children like to feed the ducks in the pond at the park.
B. to put your head/body down quickly–often in response to some danger
The boy threw a rock at my head, but I ducked so it didn’t hit me.

Bank

A. A place to keep your money
My brother works in a bank as a teller.
B. The inclined land on the edge of a river = “riverbank”
They found seashells near the river bank.

Wave

A. When the water of the ocean rises and crashes down on the beach
The waves in Hawaii are big, which makes it popular for Surfing.
B. To greet or say goodbye to someone by moving your hand
I waved goodbye to my friend as the bus departed.

Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs: What’s the difference?

English Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs are three confusing terms in English. However, despite their identical prefixes, these three English terms have a difference. Let’s check out these definitions.

Homophones

If you don’t check the words clearly, finding the difference between English homonyms and homophones may be difficult. Similar to English homonyms, English homophones are words that sound alike, thanks to that all-important suffix “-phone,” which means sound. Homophones have the same sound but different definitions, and their spelling is often different. For example, consider the word “to” and “two” and “too.” “To” is a preposition, two is a number while “too” is an adverb. Homophones may or may have not the same spelling because the definition is really about the sound.

Other examples of homophones:
allowed / aloud
for / four
bored / board

Homographs

English Homonyms and English Homographs are twins. Homographs are words that have the same spelling, as shown by the suffix “-graph,” which means writing. In addition, these words have the same spelling but different meanings and usually different pronunciation. For example, consider the words “short” and “short.” As an adjective, the word “short” means small length, distance, or height. Second, the word “short” also means not have enough of something.

Other examples of homographs:
bass (a kind of stringed instrument)/ bass (a fish found in the river or sea)

bat (a specially shaped piece of wood used for hitting the ball in some games)/ bat (a flying mammal)

The Bottom line

Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs in English are very similar to each other. And because they are almost similar, almost all ESL students and even native English speakers get easily confused with these sets of words. The bottom line of the story is that the difference between these three terms would depend on whom you are asking.

But generally speaking, English homographs and homophones are kinds of homonyms according to some dictionaries.

As part of the crazy English universe, English homonyms are confusing for ESL learners because they aren’t yet familiar with other meanings of a word. To make things more understandable and comprehensive, it is better to study the use and definition of words first. If you will do this, learning English homonyms, homographs and homophones will just be as easy as it seems to be.

Lastly, learning these words will not only improve your English vocabulary box and make you feel smarter but will also help you appreciate the tricky qualities of the English language.

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