Well, it’s actually three types of words, but they can make learning English an absolute nightmare.
What are they? Homophones, homographs and homonyms. Words that sound the same or are spelled the same – or both!
Even understanding the difference between the three types of words can cause a concentration furrow in your brow. But let’s give it a go!
The Latin root ‘-phone’ means ‘sound’. So, homophones are words that have the same sound, different spelling.
- there/their/they’re – hey’re in their car over there.
- to/too/two – Give these two books to Andy too.
- your/you’re – You’re going to drop your book.
The root ‘-graph’ means ‘write’. What does that make homographs? Words with the same spelling, different sound.
- minute – A minute is a minute (tiny) amount of time.
- row – They had a row over how you row a boat.
- wound – He wound a bandage around my wound.
‘Name’ comes from the root ‘-onym’. Saying that words have the same ‘name’ simply means they have the same spelling and same sound.
- bat – Don’t hit the bat (animal) with the bat!
- pen – The farmer dropped his pen in the pig pen (enclosure).
- suit – That suit really suits you!
- left – I left the car park by turning left at the exit.
This is quite a contradictory topic and there are various opinions on the matter. So, you will also read that a homophone or a homograph is actually a homonym, because there’s a lot of overlap. Here, we’ve broken it down in a way that we think is easiest for you to understand.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what the three titles are; it’s all about you getting your head around the fact that, in English, there are many words that sound the same and/or are spelled the same. This will all make your language learning more … fun!