Difference between Homonyms and Homophones

Often, a word can have multiple meanings despite having the same sound or spelling. If someone does not have proper knowledge of such words, understanding English can be a difficult task.

Therefore, understanding the difference between Homonyms and Homophones is extremely important.

Difference between Homonyms and Homophones

Difference between Homonyms and Homophones | Definitions

First, let’s understand the difference between Homonyms and Homophones with definitions.

Words that are spelt and pronounced the same but have different meanings are called Homonyms.

I can go to the market only afternoon. [Can=verb (ability)]
The can was opened by a small knife. [Can=noun (container)]

Homo (same) + Nym (name) = Homonym (same name)

On the other hand,

Words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings are called homophones.

Father served us chocolate dessert. (Dessert=eatable)
The girl was stranded alone in the desert. (Desert=land mass

Homo (same) + Phone (sound) = Homophone (same sound)

Difference between Homonyms and Homophones | Examples

Now understand the difference between Homonyms and Homophones through some examples.

Let us now look at some homophones.

Aye Aye Captain!” said the sailor as he pulled the sails. (old English for ‘yes’)
The stone hit the worker in the eye while he was working in the quarry. (part of the body)

The censor board decided to ban the play in the communally sensitive regions of the country. (a group)
The motion sensor detection lights failed to operate in time. (a mechanism)

Over-exercise has affected his health. (affect – to act upon)
The advertising campaign didn’t have much effect on sales. (effect – result)

You should follow the advice of your parents. (advice – counsel)
The doctor advised him to take rest. (advise -suggest)

The student should cite at least two examples for each occurrence. (to quote from a source)
No one was in sight when I reached the charity ball. (to be seen)

Check out the highlighted words in the sentences below to understand how homonyms can be complex yet interesting!

It took 5 hours for the crane to shift the trailer off the highway. (a machine)
The crane kept staring at the fish in the water as if meditating until death. (a bird)

On the advice of the doctor, I am lying in bed. (advise – Noun)
No advice has yet reached us on new pay scales. ( advice – Adjective)

The file that vanished today from the office had confidential information. (set of papers)
The residents are going to file a case against the builder pressing criminal charges against him. (record legally)

The rainwater was bailed out of the boat. (bail – Verb)
The prisoner was released on bail. (bail – Noun)

The brass vessels were no match to the Golden chairs placed in the royal dining hall. (to be equal to)
The match was well played by both teams. (a game)

Lisa visits his grandmother’s grave every year on her birthday. (final resting place)
It was a grave mistake that killed hundreds of innocent people. (Serious)

He was shot in his right arm. (arm -Noun)
Police seized many illegal fire arms. (arms – Noun)

The PM addressed the audience and the ministers in his speech. (officially spoke)
The address you have written on the form is not correct. (a place where you live)

Hope you now understand the difference between Homonyms and Homophones.

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