Homographs - Learn What They Are and How to Use Them

Can you get me a can of water? Did you notice something? Is the word ‘can’ being used twice in the same sentence? Do you think it means the same thing?

In the English language, homographs, like homophones, belong to the broad category called homonyms. Though they might appear to be a little confusing, you can have a lot of fun learning and using them in your sentences. Trying to analyse how these words function and can be used will help you with your vocabulary and language development as a whole. In this article, you will get to know all about homographs. The following topics will be discussed in this article.

Table of Contents

What are Homographs?

The word homographs has derived from the Greek word “homosgraphos”, which means having the same written form as another. In simple terms, homographs are those words that have the same spellings but completely different meanings.

According to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, a homograph is defined as “a word that is spelt like another word but has a different meaning from it, and may have a different pronunciation.” Take a look at some examples to understand how each homograph has different meanings, how they belong to different parts of speech and perform different functions.

Examples of Homographs

Here is a list of the most common homographs that can be used in everyday language. Check out the following table.

Homograph

Part of Speech

Meaning

Sentence Example

Can

Noun

A container

Salvia stored dry flowers in a can.

Verb

Being able to do something

I am sure I can do it.

Date

Noun

A day in a month or a year

Do you remember the date and year of our graduation?

Noun

A sweet fruit

I have two dates everyday in the morning on an empty stomach.

Band

Noun

A group of musicians

The band played at the inaugural ceremony of the award function.

Noun

A strip of material tied around something

Bibin tied a friendship band for his brother.

Saw

Noun

A tool used to cut wood or metal

My father needed a saw to cut the wood into multiple pieces.

Verb

To look at something around you

My cousin told me that he saw a Porsche today.

Ruler

Noun

Someone who rules a kingdom

Who is the first Mughal ruler?

Noun

A long, narrow piece of wood, steel or plastic that is flat and used to measure things or draw straight lines

The maths teacher taught the students how to use a ruler to measure and draw lines.

Rose

Noun

A flower

My mom gave me a bunch of orange roses for my birthday.

Verb

To come up

His friend rose to the occasion and helped them out.

Bark

Noun

The outer portion of a tree

I used the bark of the pine tree to make some interior decor for our house.

Verb

A loud noise made by the dog

Nobody knew why the dog kept barking even after the owner gave him food.

Fall

Noun

A season of the year, otherwise known as autumn

The colours brown and yellow represent the fall season.

Verb

To go down

She was about to fall down.

Ship

Noun

A large or big boat that is used to carry passengers or goods

My children were so excited to witness two ships crossing at the same time.

Verb

To send something by ship or some kind of transport

The dealers informed me that the orders that have been placed already will be shipped within a day or two.

Park

Noun

A large area of land that is mostly used for children to play or for people to walk

There is a children’s park in our area.

Verb

To leave or stage the vehicle somewhere for a period of time

My cousin has become an expert now. She parks the car without any sort of confusion.

Spring

Noun

A season of the year

Spring is my favourite season.

Verb

To jump or move suddenly or quickly

Tim will spring up in excitement when he hears of your victory.

File

Noun

A case to keep some documents together and safely

Do you have a file to carry all your original certificates?

Verb

To keep something in a particular place

You have to file it if you want it to be safe.

Wave

Noun

Water that moves across the surface of water

My son was excited to see the waves.

Verb

To move your hands from side to side

My pet dog waved his hand the moment he saw my mom.

Well

Noun

A large, deep hole in the ground that carries water which can be used for domestic purposes

There is a very deep well in our old house.

Adverb

Something that is done in a good way

Do you know him well?

Adjective

To be in a good state

I am well.

Trip

Noun

A leisure journey

When are you going on that Bangalore trip you have been planning for months?

Verb

An action of nearly falling as a result of you foot catching on something

He tripped and fell.

Tie

Noun

A long piece of cloth with a knot in front, that is used to wear around the neck

Mia’s father does not like to wear a tie.

Verb

To fasten something or someone with a rope or a string

My brother helped me tie my shoelace.

Drink

Noun

Some liquid that quenches your thirst

Would you like to have a drink?

Verb

To have something liquid that quenches your thirst

What would you like to drink?

Orange

Noun

A fruit

My nephew likes oranges.

Adjective

A colour

We were asked to wear an orange dress for the party.

Point

Noun

A specific/particular idea, thought or opinion that someone is expressing

What is the point you are trying to make?

Noun

The most important piece of information or what is being said/discussed

The whole point of this meeting was to discuss the future business prospects.

Verb

To show or draw attention to something by using your finger or some object like a stick

Will you be able to point out what exactly is the problem here?

Fly

Noun

An insect

A fly was continuously passing in front of my eyes.

Verb

The action of moving through air

Did you know that peacocks can fly?

Palm

Noun

The inner part of your hand

I know her like the palm of my hand.

Noun

A tall, straight tree

There is a farm full of palm trees on the way to my home.

Drop

Noun

A very small amount of liquid

I added a drop of honey to my lemon tea.

Verb

To fall or let something fall down

She said that she dropped the glass bowl by mistake.

Letter

Noun

A written or printed document for formal and informal purposes

Jancy wrote a letter to her mom.

Noun

Another word to refer to an alphabet or a symbol

She writes the letter ‘S’ beautifully.

Left

Adjective

The left side or direction

Her father has a severe pain in his left knee.

Verb

To move or go away from someone or something permanently or for a short period of time

We left the hall around 12 p.m.

Adverb

To move to the left side

She jumped to the left instead of jumping to the right side.

Exercises on Homographs

Fill in the gaps with correct homographs by choosing the most suitable option from the homographs given below.

(bark, book, left, match, sink, bank, rig, band, well, watch)

  1. The boy ____ the match in between due to the injury.
  2. What is the time on your ____?
  3. The ____ of the mango tree is very hard.
  4. Tina has performed ____ in the exam.
  5. My brother gave me a diamond ___.
  6. There was a ____ between KKR and RCB.
  7. Can you please ____ the tickets for me?
  8. SBI is the largest ____ in India.
  9. Please keep the dishes in the ____.
  10. The Beatles were the most popular ____ of our times.

Answers –

  1. The boy left the match in between due to the injury.
  2. What is the time on your watch?
  3. The bark of the mango tree is very hard.
  4. Tina has performed well in the exam.
  5. My brother gave me a diamond ring.
  6. There was a match between KKR and RCB.
  7. Can you please book the tickets for me?
  8. SBI is the largest bank in India.
  9. Please keep the dishes in the sink.
  10. The Beatles were the most popular band of our times.

Frequently Asked Questions on Homographs

What are homographs?

The word homographs has been derived from the Greek word “homosgrapho”, where ‘homos’ means same and ‘grapho’ means write. Thus homographs are those words that have the same spellings but completely different meanings.

What are homophones?

Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings. Here the word ‘phone’ means sound, and the word ‘homo’ means same/similar sound.

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