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Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs

Homonyms, Homophones, HomographsIf you are confused about the differences between homonyms, homophones, and homographs, you're in the right place to get it straightened out!


Homonyms

This is the big category—the umbrella—under which we find homophones and homographs.

 

Homophones

Homophones are words that sound alike, but have different meanings and spellings. They are the sets of words that you probably learned in elementary school, though your teacher may have used the broader category of homonyms.

Examples of common homophones include:

  • their and there
  • deer and dear
  • hear and here
  • to, too, and two

Regional accents may affect whether words are homophones. For example, in certain parts of the country, weather and whether sound the same. For those of us in the U.S., due and do are pronounced alike, but in most British accents, they sound different.


Homographs

Homographs are words that are spelled the same, but have different meanings and may have different pronunciations.

Examples of common homographs include:

  • does and does
    He does like to run.
    Does are female deer.
    (Same spelling, different pronunciation.)
  • wind and wind
    I can feel the wind in my hair.
    Wind up the string before it gets tangled.
    (Same spelling, different pronunciation.)
  • well and well
    Sam doesn't feel well today.
    Our neighbors are digging a new well.
    (Same spelling, same pronunciation.)

One way to remember the difference between the terms homophone and homograph is by looking at the derivation of the words:

HOMO ("same") + PHONE ("sound")
HOMO ("same") + GRAPH ("writing")

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