• John Kador

Homonyms, Homographs, and Homophones

Native-born speakers of English often don’t understand how confusing our language is.  I was born in Hungary, so I remember how confusing English could be.  For example, I remember that when I checked books out of the library, the librarian told me that if I didn’t bring the books back by a certain date, there would be a fine.  Great, I thought, it’s always great to be fine.

The following sentences all play with the concept of homonyms, homographs, and homophones.  A homonym, in the strict sense, is one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings. Homographs are words that share the same spelling, irrespective of their pronunciation). Homophones  are words that share the same pronunciation, irrespective of their spelling).  Here’s a nice chart that spells out the differences.

  1. He could lead if he would get the lead out.

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

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

  4. The bandage was wound around the wound.

  5. The farm was used to produce produce.

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

  7. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

  8. I did not object to the object.

  9. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

  10. They were too close to the door to close it.

  11. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

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

  13. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

  14. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

  15. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

Can you identify the homonyms,homographs, and  homophones in each sentence?

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