English Grammar Basic Grammar and syntax

What are homonyms? (with examples)

What are homonyms? (with examples)

Homonyms are words that have the same pronunciation (eg,“maid“y“made“) or have the same spelling (eg,“lead weight“y“to lead“).

When homonyms have the same sound, they are called“homophones“. When they have the same spelling, they are called“homographic“. (Homographs with different sounds (eg,“teardrop“y“to make a hole“) are called“heteronyms“).

So it is possible for a homonym to be both a homophone (same sound) and a homograph (same spelling), for example,“vampire bat“y“cricket bat“.

Examples of Homonyms

  • pike (the fish) and pike (the weapon)
    (These homonyms are homographs – they have the same spelling.)
  • bear (the animal) and bare (no clothes)
    (These homonyms are homophones – they have different spellings but the same sound.)
  • site (a location), sight (vision), and cite (to quote)
    (These homonyms are homophones.)

More about Homographs, Heteronyms, and Homophones

Aquí hay algunos ejemplos más de homógrafos (incluidos heterónimos y no heterónimos) y homófonos:

Homographs. These are words with the same spelling but different meanings. When homographs have different sounds, they are known as“heteronyms“.

  • lead (the metal) and lead (which attaches to a dog’s collar)
    (These homographs are heteronyms.)
  • tear (water drop from the eye) and tear (a rip)
    (These homographs are heteronyms.)

Homographs (Non-heteronyms). No todos los homógrafos son heterónimos (es decir, algunos tienen la misma ortografía y sonido).

  • pike (weapon) and pike (fish)
    (These homographs are not heteronyms – they are pronounced the same.)
  • lie (an untruth) and lie (to lie down)
    (These homographs are not heteronyms – they are pronounced the same.)

Homophones. Estas son palabras con el mismo sonido pero con diferentes grafías y significados:

  • place (location) and plaice (the fish)
  • pear (fruit) and pair (a couple)
  • see (to see) and sea (ocean)

Real-Life Examples of Homonyms

Los homónimos, especialmente los homógrafos, son comunes en los chistes:

  • Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana. (Comedian Groucho Marx)
    (flies = means to fly and then flying insects)
    (like = means as though and then to like)
  • “I am“is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that“I do“is the longest sentence? (Comedian George Carlin)
    (sentence = means grammatical sentence and then prison sentence)
  • The man whose whole left side was cut off is all right now.
    (Often in jokes, only one of the homonyms is present. Read about the difference between alright and all right.)

Los chistes que explotan los homónimos se llaman juegos de palabras.

Homophones in Business Names

Homophones are common in pun-style business names:

  • John’s Plaice.
    (Fish-and-chip shop)
  • Our Suns
    (Supplier of non-slip work boots)
  • Curl Up and Dye
    (Hair salon)

Homophones That Cause Writing Mistakes

Unfortunately, homophones (and words that are nearly homophones) are often responsible for spelling errors:

  • His idea is starting to bare fruit. ❌
    (Should be“bear.“)
  • The hat compliments your eyes. ❌
    (Should be“complements.“)

Remember that only homophones can cause spelling errors. Homographs can’t because their spelling is the same.

Why Should I Care about Homonyms?

There are two good reasons to worry about homonyms.

(Reason 1) Homonyms are a common cause of spelling mistakes.

Los homónimos (como“course“y“thick“) and near-same names (such as“to affect“y“effect“) are often responsible for typing errors. Recognizing this will lower your threshold to look up a dictionary or Google to check which of the homophones to use.

This list of easily confused words includes lessons and quizzes on over two hundred homonyms and near-homonyms that often give writers trouble.

(Reason 2) Puns can be memorable.

Using a namesake in a title can make it catchy and memorable.

  • Doggie styles
    (Dog-grooming salon)

Key Points

  • If you know that a word can be spelled in different ways (for example, their, there, they’re), make sure you’re using the correct version before continuing.
  • A clever play on words in a title can make the title memorable.

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