Homonyms, homophones, and homographs are three types of words that often confuse readers and writers because of their similarities. But, they have distinct meanings and usages, which are essential to understand.

Below are the differences between them with examples:

  1. Homonyms: Homonyms are words with the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings. Homonyms examples:
  • “Bear” can refer to a large, furry animal or to “tolerate” something.
  • “Bank” can refer to a financial institution or the land along the edge of a river.

2. Homophones: Homophones are words with the same pronunciation but different spellings and meanings. 

Some examples of homophones are:

  • “Flower” and “flour” are homophones. “Flower” refers to a plant’s reproductive organ, whereas “flour” is a powder made from grinding cereal grains.
  • “Knight” and “night” are homophones. “Knight” refers to a historical figure or someone who is awarded a title of nobility, whereas “night” is the time between sunset and sunrise.

3. Homographs: Homographs are words with the same spelling but different pronunciations and meanings. Some examples of homographs :

  • “Tear” refers to pulling something apart, which can mean a drop of water from the eye. These have different pronunciations, with “tear” (to pull apart) pronounced like “air” and “tear” (a drop of water) pronounced like “ear.”
  • “Lead” can refer to a soft, heavy, bluish-grey metal, meaning to guide or direct someone. These have different pronunciations, with “lead” (the metal) pronounced like “led” and “lead” (to guide) pronounced like “leed.”

It’s important to remember that these categories can overlap and that certain words can be both homophones and homographs. For example, “wind” can mean a gust of air or twisting something tightly. It can be pronounced differently depending on its meaning.

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