A homograph is when two or more words are spelt the same but have different meanings and sometimes pronunciation. I’ll give you an example…
‘Close’ can mean 2 different things:
- near (adverb) – pronounced with a voiceless ‘s’ – clo-suh
- to shut (verb) – pronounced with a voiced ‘s’ – clo-z
One tip before we begin is that homo = the same.
These are very tricky for non-natives to learn and distinguish between. Have a crack at learning some of the most common ones. I’ve given you the two (or more) homographs, the meaning and some tips for pronunciation.
Let’s take a look at a few examples with pictures first.
I bet you’re wondering what the hell does voiced and voiceless mean? If you don’t know, you should to be able to understand this page better. Follow the link to find out (voiced and voiceless sounds).
I hope you’re enjoying learning about homographs; they are a fantastic way to improve your spoken English. I’ve got some good news for you; homographs are not alone in the English language. They do in fact have a few siblings called homonyms and homophones. They are like homographs but slightly different. They are also extremely useful to know, follow the links to find out what they are.
Homonyms – words spelt the same but have different meanings (easy).
Homophones – words spelt differently but pronounced the same. They also have a different meaning and/or spelling. (harder).
Are you ready to practice what you’ve learnt? Ok, try pronouncing these sentences with homographs correctly. If you get stuck, go back to the tables above for some pronunciation tips.
lead or read?
Here’s a classic example of a homograph. Can you pronounce this paragraph correctly? It’s difficult, even I have trouble reading it!
Head over to my just for fun section if you want to practice more weird and wonderful exercises like this.
If you really want to become a pronunciation pro, I suggest taking English pronunciation classes online. Here are some of the best ones: