Yes John, learning how to spell in elementary school is important…

Homonyms, Homographs, Heteronyms, Homophones, Palindromes.

By Christopher Naslund

In writing choosing the right word is import, especially if you choose a word that can be used in a different sentence to have a completely different meaning and therefor can change the whole message of whatever your writing.

‘Homonyms’ are two words that are identical in spelling and in pronunciation, but entirely different in etymology and meaning: such as I felt the felt. But what of those that half qualify? A heteronym (or “homograph”) is a word having the same spelling as another, but a different sound and meaning,

Heteronyms are words that are spelled identically but have different meanings when pronounced differently.

For example: Lead, pronounced LEED, means to guide. However, lead, pronounced LED, means a metallic element.

Compare: heteronyms to homographs, homophones, and homonyms.

Homographs are words that are spelled the same but differ in meaning, derivation, or pronunciation.

Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but differ in meaning, derivation, or spelling.

Homonyms are words that are spelled and pronounced the same but have different meanings. There is overlap among these categories.

Heteronyms are specific types of homographs in which the different pronunciations are associated with different meanings. Many heteronyms are the result of one pronunciation being a verb and another being a noun.

1) The bandage was wound completely around the wound.

2) What kind of organic produce would the farm produce?

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) At the Army base, a bass was painted on the head of a bass drum.

9) The dove dove into the bushes, right after it was shot at.

10) I don’t know why he did not object to that object?

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw began to get number.

19) Upon seeing the tear in the invaluable painting I shed a tear.

20) Then, of course, I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

21) Why would I intimate anything about this, to my most intimate friend?

22) I spent all evening evening out the wrinkles in my shirt.


Some entries are linked to an illustrative verse or quote.

  • Affect (verb) and affect (noun, in psychology)
  • Unionized (meaning formed a union) and unionized (reverse of ionized)Bases (plural of basis) and bases (plural of base, but also a near-homonym for basis)
  • Severer (more severe) and severer (one who severs)
  • Bass (fish) and bass (voice)
  • Close (adjective) and close (verb)
  • Lead (metal) and lead (verb)
  • Putting (not golf) and putting (golf)
  • Console (verb) and console (noun)
  • Sewer (one who sews) and sewer (sanitation infrastructure)
  • Bow (defer) and bow (for violin)
  • Tear (verb) and tear (noun)
  • Wind (noun) and wind (verb, to rhyme with bind)
  • Contract and contract

Import words from an import man, Mark Twain- “I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English – it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them – then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice”.

Make sure to make sure your using the correct word!

I know my examples are more along the lines of saying a word that is spelled the same differently. But what if we said the wrong word altogether. This is how is may look.

HEY CLASS, share your examples of Homonyms, Homographs, Heteronyms, Homophones, Palindromes.


About cnaslund

25-year-old college student studying public relations and expecting to graduate in May 2011. Reason I set up a WordPress account... We had to. We are using it in a Feature Article class at CSUF.
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3 Responses to Yes John, learning how to spell in elementary school is important…

  1. cnaslund says:

    Not sure why number 8 decided to be a smiley face… and when I review the doc, there are no gaps before or after 10. weird.

  2. caitlinarmstrong says:

    Wow! This was really interesting, I have never heard of homographs, homophones, and homonyms. This is probably a sad fact since I sorta consider myself a good writer, but now I am glad I know of them so I don’t make any mistakes! I also love all the examples you gave!

  3. jnguyen115 says:

    Even as college students, you’d be amazed at how many people do not know this kind of stuff. Lucky for me, I’ve always had a knack for spelling but even now I get confused between words that are spelled the same and have different meanings – or words that are pronounced the same way but have different ways of being spelled. Thanks for this useful information!

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