Words that sound different – homographs

posted in: about words, language | 0

tear in jeans, eye crying a tearI have been informed by my sister Steph that a word like tear, that can be pronounced in two different ways, is called a homograph, meaning written the same. I didn’t know that before – did you know that?

However, I’ve got a nice long list of fun homographs, which I’ve been making into sentences, to illustrate the different pronunciations, and also the peculiarity of the English Language.



We’ll start with the words which have the different pronunciations between verb and noun:

display of fresh fruit, eg watermelons, mangoes, etcProduce. I want to produce the best produce I can on this farm. (proDUCE and PROduce with s short o)

Lead. If the driver wants to lead the race, they need a lead boot! (leed and led)

Wound. The nurse wound the bandage round the wound. (wahwnd and woond)

Refuse. I refuse to take out the refuse. (refuse and REFuse with a short e)

Content. I am content with the content of this website. (conTENT and CONtent)

Tear. I shed a tear when I discovered a tear in my best jeans. (teer and tair)

Moped. I moped when my moped was stolen. (mowpd and MOWped)

Segment. I will segment this cake and make sure I have the largest segment. (segMENT and SEGment)

Import. I want to import mobile phones, but I don’t know what the import tax will be. (imPORT and IMport)

Export. If I export clotted cream, will there be export duty? (exPORT and EXport)

And this one was thought up by my daughter – Wind. The wind could wind between the trees. (wind and wiynd)


Some come with different tenses of the verb:

Read. I wanted to read the book this afternoon, but my mum had read it already and taken it back to the library. (reed and red)


And some are just peculiar!

Use. I can’t use this; it is no use to me. (youwse and youse)

Used. These used to be my smart shoes, but not since I used them in the rain. (yoused and youwsed)

Minute. This conversation is going to be minute – I need to leave in a minute. (Not to be confused with minuet!) (my-newt and minit – as well as min-you-et)


Don’t you love the way you have to read the sentences a couple of times over and make your brain change gear in the middle before they come out right? Sometimes I’m sure there’s an audible clunk!


I already knew about homophones, which sound the same but are spelled differently (they’re, their, and there, for instance) but my sister also informed me about homonyms, which are the same word, pronounced the same, but meaning two different things.  My favourite example of this is refrain, meaning to not do something, or the chorus between two verses of a song. But more on those in another blog post…

If you have any pet homographs, homophones and homonyms, do let me know, and we can have fun with them.

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