PEARTREE LIFE: Experiencing Languages

Can you /beə/ homonyms?

A /beə/

Recently, at English for Lunch, the students had a look at English homonyms. According to a broader definition, a homonym is ‘a word that sounds the same or is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning’ (Cambridge Dictionary).

English has LOTS of homonyms. Can you think of any?

Ok, here are some examples:
Stalk (part of a plant) and stalk (follow/harass a person)
Bare (not covered) and bear (the animal)
Left (past tense of leave) and left (opposite of right)

Not to overuse Greek-origin words here but if homonyms are PRONOUNCED the same, they are called ‘homophones’ and if they are SPELLED the same, we call them ‘homographs’ (regardless of pronunciation).

Some homonyms can, therefore, be both homophones AND homographs at the same time: staff (employee or long stick), rose (flower or past tense of ‘rise’). Some homonyms, however, are homophones but not homographs: No and know (Same pronunciation, different spelling) and some homonyms are homographs but not homophones: Bow (bend at the waist) and bow (weapon): Different pronunciation, same spelling.

This may be enough of linguistics for today but if you’d like to think more about this, here is a picture which captures the relationship of homonyms and other language concepts:

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About Peartree Languages

Peartree Languages is a language school located in Cardiff.


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