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Know About Homonyms: Homophones and Homographs

Updated on May 5, 2020
Poonam-Malik profile image

I was a good student in school, and a fairly good teacher also. So, I thought of helping some of the budding writers brush up their grammar.

Introduction

Homonyms are confusing words. No, I did not define homonyms. I said it because the definition of homonyms itself refers to two different yet same types of words - homophones and homographs.

Homographs have the same spelling but convey different meanings in different contexts. For example, ‘tie’ could mean a neck-tie and also mean to bind something with a string or rope.

Homophones refer to words that have the same pronunciation but have different meanings, as ‘no’ and ‘know.’

Both homographs and homophones are homonyms.

We can very easily get confused. For example, consider the words, chilly, chilli, and chili. All three sound and spell similar. If you know all their meanings, you are a genius. But if you do not know, then I suggest you to please read the article till the end.

We will explain ten words of each category with examples and sample tests to enhance your knowledge.

Homophones

Meat-meet

We do not eat meat.

We meet our colleagues daily.

Piece-peace

She ate the biggest piece of the cake.

India is a peace-loving nation.

Whole-hole

The whole world is badly affected.

There is a hole in my pocket.

Cell-sell

I bought a new cell phone yesterday.

Both these boys sell ice-cream.

Sole-soul

He is the sole breadwinner in his family.

A soul never dies as per holy books.

Waist-waste

She has a very thin waist.

Do not waste time.

Of-off

He gave me a small piece of chocolate.

She cut off the topmost part of the tomatoes.

One-won

One is the first number.

We won the match.

Weather-whether

The weather is fine today.

Tell me whether you want coffee or not.

To-two-too

He said sorry to his father.

She kept two books in her bag.

This dress is too good.

Homographs

Cell

The cell is the basic unit of all living things.

The prisoner fainted in his cell.

This torch has no cells inside.

Fill all the cells in the table.

Desert

Camel is the ship of the desert.

He can easily desert his old friends for new ones.

Object

I strongly object to your suggestion.

The object of a sentence comes after the verb.

It is a very tiny object, as you can see.

My object is to help the poor.

Minute

Give me a minute to finish, please.

She chopped the ginger into minute pieces.

Lock

Do not lock the door.

A big lock was on the door.

Row

The soldiers stood in a row.

How will you row the boat, without the oars?

I was not involved in the row you are talking about.

Of

Have you observed the life of the people living in villages?

He gave away a major part of his earnings in charity.

The actor played the part of the old man very well.

Well

Well, I am going to stay here for three years.

He is quite well-off.

This well is very deep.

I am not feeling well today.

Well-meaning and well-being

Second

This my second visit to Melbourne.

A second is 1/60 of a minute.

Tear

I cannot bear to see a single tear in my child’s eye.

I gave the child a few sheets of paper to tear because he enjoyed the sound.

Test Your Knowledge

Now, before I proceed with some tests to challenge your wits, there are some more facts about homonyms that you should know.

  • There a lot more homonyms than the ones listed above.
  • Some of the homonyms are used as different parts of speech; for example, lock as a noun and as a verb.
  • The pronunciation in some, not in all, homographs is different. For example, read and minute. Please do check this point.

This means every time you are in the slightest doubt, be sure to check the dictionary.

Honestly test your knowledge by filling in the blanks below. Score one point for every correct answer.

  1. First, I had coffee and ____ finished the sandwich.
  2. We work in the ______ office here; the head office is in Kolkata.
  3. She had prepared custard, my favorite _____.
  4. Sand-dunes are found in a ______.
  5. We must take a ____ opinion.
  6. Tell me everything about blood ____. How are they different from the other cells in our body?
  7. What is the ___ by your watch?
  8. Every ____ we meet you are in a hurry to leave.
  9. I like tea better _____ coffee.

10. She likes to make new friends; this earns her more ____ on her blog.

Answers: 1. then 2. branch 3. dessert 4. Desert 5. Second 6. Cells 7. time 8. time 9. than 10. likes

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed doing the exercise above. Were you happy with your scores?

Now, as I promised above, here is the explanation of chili, chilli, chilly.

Chilly means cold like in chilly weather.

Chilli is the pepper usually red or green chillies.

Chili is the American spelling of chilli.

Another such homonym is check and I leave it to you to find out yourself.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

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    • Poonam-Malik profile imageAUTHOR

      POONAM MALIK 

      3 weeks ago from Faridabad

      My pleasure, Vikram Sir. I will surely try my best to meet your expectations in my next post very soon, which is again on a grammar topic.

    • talesofvikram profile image

      Vikram Brahma 

      3 weeks ago from Assam, India

      Hey Poonam ji, nice article and I learned a lot from this article itself. Thanks for very much for sharing your knowledge through your article. Keep writing more of such article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Arnaba Saha profile image

      Arnaba Saha 

      3 weeks ago from New Delhi

      Hello Poonam Ji,

      Homonyms, homographs, and homophones are truly little tricksters that can easily confuse anyone. For a long time, I used to get confused between principle and principal.

      Now, imagine me writing "principle" instead of "principal" in the letter-writing practice (letters addressed to the head of the school) sessions in school.

      The funny part is, I just now googled to confirm whether I was committing the same mistake again or not.HEHE.

      Thanks, Poonam Ji for providing such insightful and interesting hub for us. It was a pleasure reading about my childhood nemesis. Keep up the good work.

    • Sowrabha Mahesh profile image

      sowspeaks 

      3 weeks ago from Bengaluru

      Hi Poonamji! Very interesting article on homonyms with lots of relevant illustrations.I liked your inclusion of the test.My 10 year old daughter and I had great fun attempting it.Thank you so much.

    • hmkrishna profile image

      Halemane Muralikrishna 

      3 weeks ago from South India

      Thank you, Ms Poonam, for providing some knowledge regarding homographs, which are totally new for me. Looking into these, we sometimes think about how confusing are the usages. Keep writing more such articles for understanding English in a better way.

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