Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs:
Words that fall under any of these three categories often confuse readers and writers alike. So, what are they?
HOMONYMS are two or more words that have the same sound or spelling but differ in meaning, such as Wave and Waive.
HOMOPHONES are two or more words, such as Knew and New, which we pronounce the same but that differ in meaning, origin, and–often–spelling.
HOMOGRAPHS are words which we spell the same, but which differ in origin, meaning, and–sometimes–pronunciation, such as the verb Bear (to carry or endure) and the noun Bear (the animal).
BRITISH ENGLISH VERSUS AMERICAN ENGLISH: To add to the fun … erm, confusion! … we Brits and Americans (as well as other English-speaking nations) love to spell the same words differently. So, to attempt to keep these posts coherent for us all, my next post will look at the differences between the two most common ones, British and American. And in each subsequent post on specific Homonyms, I will endeavour to note any differences between these two nations’ way of doing things.
DIALECT: The other major confusing factor on word pronunciation is regional dialect. One word I am familiar with which offers a wonderful example of this is ‘Due’. I pronounce this as in ‘Dew/Jew’ but have heard it said as in ‘Do’ as well. This is way too broad a topic, with way too many variations in speech, for me to address in this series of articles. So, if you read a set of words and think something like, ‘Well, they don’t sound the same at all!’, then please bear with me (and not the kind with teeth and claws!) 😂. The simple explanation will come down to a variation in dialect and accent, I’m sure. However, where I’ve seen this kind of word misused frequently, I will give it a mention, even though it might not–technically–fall within any of these three categories of Homonyms, Homgraphs, or Homophones. For example, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read in a book, ‘Pay your dos’ instead of ‘Pay your dues.’ … You get the idea 😊
That’s it from me today. I hope you’ve found this article useful, and I’ll see you again soon for Homonyms with Harmony, Part 2–American and British English Conventions. After that, we will explore the origins of Homonyms, before going on to follow commonly misunderstood or misused words in alphabetical order 🙂
For the sake of ease and to reduce repetitiveness and confusion, I will shelter Homophones, Homonyms, and Homographs, under the one umbrella of Homonyms. Even with the brief definitions, it’s easy to see how many overlaps they each contain from one to another ☂️ 🙂☂️
[Author’s Note: This article appeared originally on Story Empire, a collaborative website all about offering tips, tricks, and advice to writers, whether seasoned or brand new. It’s my aim to, eventually, publish all of these articles on Homonyms, etc., in a handy reference book. I’d love to hear what you think. You can find the original post, along with lots of other writing resources, in the embedded link below …]
Currently, Story Empire has twelve bestselling authors who share a passion for all things related to writing, publishing, and promoting fiction. These contributors, of which I am one, each bring our expertise and experience to a multitude of topics, aimed at various levels of ability. We set up this site for the sole purpose of helping our fellow authors, and we cover areas such as Point of View, Story Structure, Plot Types, How Tos, Inspiration, Encouragement, Publishing, Marketing (a dreaded word for many creatives!), Characterisation, Setting, and much, much more! Please do take a look and explore 🙂
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