Homonyms in English

Have you ever had such situations when listening to spoken English, it was very difficult for you to make out what the speaker was saying due to the fact that the sound of some words seemed exactly the same to you? It might sound a little odd, but it wasn’t just a feeling! 

In English, there indeed are such words - homonyms.

 The word “homonym” comes from the Greek words "homos" - the same and "onyma" - a name, and it denotes words that are the same in sound and spelling, but different in meaning.

There are several types of homonyms: absolute homonyms, homographs, homophones, and also paronyms.

Absolute homonyms - words wich are written and pronounced the same way, but have different meanings.

For example,
lie - to have a horizontal positions  and lie - to not say the truth,

band - tape and band - musical team.

She has a red silk band on her dress. - She has a red silk ribbon on her dress. AND  The Beatles are the most famous band in the world. The Beatles are the most popular musical team in the world.

Homographs are words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently and are also known as heteronyms.

Bow [bəu] - a weapon and bow [bau] - to make a move with your head.
Tear [tɪə] - liquid from your eyes and tear [teə] - rip apart.

The children were all in tears. - The children cried a lot. AND The paper is old and tears easily. - The paper is old and is ripped apart easily.

Words with the same pronunciation but completely different spellings are called homophones.

These are words like:
see - to view and sea - the sea (big water),

Cell - tiny pieces of organism and sell - to give away for money.

The doctors discovered DNA cells. - I would like to sell my old car.

In the English language, it is also not uncommon to find words in which there is no complete coincidence in sound or spelling, but they are still somewhat similar. Such words are called paronyms.

Bear and beer
Historic - referring to the past and historical - referring to history as a science.

She had an old teddy bear called Rick. - After we’ve played a match, we sit and chat over a beer

And finally, a few more examples of English homonyms:

Pray – to do a religious ritual

Prey- victim

Coarse - rude

Course - direction

Cue - a tip, help

Queue – a line

Hair - on the head

Hare – a wild animal

Hole - empty space inside smth

Whole – complete, full

I - pronoun

Eye – organ which is used to see smth

Peace - no war

Piece – a part of smth

Tail - a back part of an animal

Tale - a story

Author: Inga Shatalova

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