• Heather Wenonah Ellis

What Are Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs?

Updated: Jul 11




Hello writers and authors,


Welcome Back to Clever Writer By Heather!

Where we encourage you to DREAM big, CREATE stories that INSPIRE others!


Today we will be continuing our Grammar and Punctuation series on what are homonyms, homophones, and homographs.


In my previous blogs, we talked about:

· Where to place the period when using quotation marks and abbreviations.


· Then we discussed where to begin our next sentence after the period, whether it was one space or two.


· And we looked at the history behind that question.


· We also looked at how to use brackets in our writing, both rounded and squared.


· And we looked at where to place the punctuation around them.


If you want to take a closer look at these topics, I invite you to check out my YouTube channel, Clever Writer By Heather.


Go ahead and click the subscribe button. And hit that bell that way, you can stay updated with my latest videos and writing tips.


Okay, let's get into why we are here today.


Have you come across words that are spelled the same but have different meanings?


Or words that are spelled differently but sound the same?


We call these words homonyms, homophones, or homographs .


Many words in English sound or look alike and can cause a lot of confusion for us in the English language, especially if you are writing a story.


Sometimes these troublemakers can give us a headache if we don't understand how to use them in the written language, in our case English.


Let's see if we can demystify the meanings between the three categories for you today.


Before we get into our teaching today, let's grab some writing inspiration from American Poet, novelist, and short-story writer Sylvia Plath.


She said,


"And by the way, Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." ~ Sylvia Plath

Self-doubt is a nuisance. It breeds nothing but trouble.


I say kick it in the pants and get on with writing!


That's what we're here for, right?


We are here because we want to be writers.


Some of you may enjoy writing poems or write in your journals.


Some of you may just want to improve your writing in academia, and that's great.


And some of you may want to go on to have successful writing careers. And if that's you, let me tell you this.


No one is going to do it for you. You have to get up and go after your dream!


Don't let the state of affairs in your community detour you from writing. Instead, why not write about it.


You can write it like a news article or a blog. You can even get creative here and pen a story with characters and scenery emulating the neighborhoods around you.


The point is, there is always something to write about. Just look around. Use your imagination to improvise your storytelling. And have fun with it!


Okay, it's time to get into our teaching today on what are homonyms, homophones, and homographs.


If you want to follow along with the explainer video, click here.


Okay, let's begin with our topic question:


What are homonyms, homophones, and homographs?


Aren't they all the same thing?


Many words in English sound or look alike, right? It sounds confusing, I know.


Don't worry. We will straighten out all this confusion in the next few minutes.


Just relax and enjoy the teaching.


We will begin by breaking down what a homonym

/’hä-mə-ˌnim/ is.


First, we will look at what a homonym is not. Let's look at the following example.


"Just waiting for the bus cause my car got toad."



I think we can see where the error is. The word toad is misused in this sentence. This is cute and funny, but it's incorrect.


Homonyms seem confusing to understand because they could be referred to as three distinct classes of words.


Homonyms may be words with identical pronunciations but different spellings and meanings.


Or they may be words with both identical pronunciations and identical spellings but different meanings.


Finally, they may be words that are spelled alike but are different in pronunciation and meaning.


The definition of a homonym is a word that is both a homophone and a homograph.


Now you're probably wondering how do we distinguish between the two categories of words?


Well, let's take a look at what a homophone /ˈhä-mə-ˌfōn/ is and how to use them correctly in a sentence.


The word homophone comes from the Greek word homos meaning same, and phone meaning voice.


Homophones can be words that sound the same but have different meanings.


This is great, but how do we keep this organized in our heads so to not confuse this with what a homograph is?


Here's one way to help you.


We know that homo means same. And we know phone means voice.


A phone is an object we can bring to our ear…and what do we do with it?


Well, we listen to the sounds of a voice coming through from the other side of the phone.


Listen and sound are what we do with our ears, right?


Okay. Stay with me here..


Homo (same)….Phone(sound)


Same sound---words that sound the same. They can be spelled differently.


The message to focus on here is words that sound the same are what we call homophones.


For example:

hear (listening to something)

here (in, at, or to this place or position)


These words are spelled differently but sound the same.


Let's take these words and put them in a sentence.


"I hear what you're saying, but she is not here yet."


Notice the word hear it indicates listening to something. And here, this part of the sentence suggests "she" is not in the same place as the person listening to something.


All right, let's take a look at some of the most common homophones that can seem a little tricky for writers to differentiate.


Theirs/there's


theirs (belonging to or associated with people)

there's (a contraction of there is)


to/too/two


to (motion or direction)

too (as well or in addition)

two (number 2)


ad/add


ad (advertisement)

add (increase)


Okay, so what is a homograph /ˈhä-mə-ˌgraf/?


The word homograph comes from the Greek word homos meaning same and graph meaning write.


So, homographs are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings.


Here's one way you can look at it.


Okay, we know homo means the same.


Now when we look at the word graph, what does this remind you of? Well, I think of a chart.


So if we think of a graph as a chart or a visual, what do we do with it? Well, we don't listen to it, right?


We look at it with our eyes. Now focus on the word look.


Home (same) Graph (look).


Homographs are words that have the same look.


In other words, they are spelled the same. They could have different meanings.


The point to focus on here is homographs are spelled the same.


Let's see how to use homographs in a sentence.


We will use the example – Read.


Read pronounced (Red) means the past tense of reading.

Read pronounced (Reed) means present tense of reading.


Here is the sentence example.


She will read (reed) the book that her older sister read (red) last year.


The word read in the first part of the sentence suggests that "she" is reading now in the present tense.


Read in the latter part of the sentence tells us that her sister had already read the book last year, indicating the book's past tense.


All right, now that we distinguished the three categories of words for you, I hope this increases your grammar confidence in your writing journey.


Stick with this writing technique you're learning, and you will be the writer of your dreams.


I hope this blog helped clarified any confusion you had around homonyms.


Today we learned that homonyms are both homophones and homographs.


We also looked at how to correctly use each category of words in sentences to help make our writing clearer for the reader.


Comment below, If this video helped you in any way.


And remember the inspiration we gleaned from American Poet Sylia Plath.


She said,


"Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." ~Sylia Plath

There is always something to write about. Just look around.


Use your imagination to improvise your storytelling.


And have fun with it!


Until next time,

Happy writing!


If you'd like to do further reading on my other writing tips, I invite you to check out my website, The Clever Writer Portal.


Or visit my YouTube channel, Clever Writer By Heather.


Source:

Dimir, Sylvia Plath: Her Life and Importance to American Literature and History, https://owlcation.com/humanities/Sylvia-Plath-Her-Life-and-Importance-to-American-LIterature-and-History, February 19, 2018


Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com


IELTS, https://ielts.com.au/articles/homophones-homographs-homonyms/

https://www.dictionary.com


Online Etymology Dictionary, https://www.etymonline.com/


Jane Straus, Confusing Words and Homonyms, https://www.grammarbook.com/homonyms/confusing-words.asp


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