Difference Between Homonyms and Homographs

Main Difference – Homonyms vs Homographs

The main difference between homonyms and homographs is that homonyms share the same pronunciation whereas homographs share the same spelling. Homonyms are words that have the same pronunciation but different meaning regardless of their spelling. Homographs are words that have the same spelling but different meanings regardless of their pronunciations.  These two categories can sometimes overlap. Homographs that contain the same pronunciation can be categorized as a homonym whereas homonyms that contain the same spelling can be categorized as a homograph. However, this doesn’t mean that all homonyms are homographs, or all homographs are homonyms.

What are Homonyms

Homonyms refer to two or more words that share the same pronunciation but different meanings. Some homonyms have the same spellings whereas some homonyms don’t. This means that a homonym can be a homograph or a homophone. The relationship between a set of homonyms is called homonymy.

Given below are some examples of homonyms that share the same spelling.

left (direction/ past tense of leave)

He left the party early.

Turn left from there.

bank (edge of the river, financial institution)

He built a house on the river bank.

The bank loaned me $100 000.

bear (animal, tolerate)

We saw a bear at the zoo.

He couldn’t bear the pain.

Given below are some examples of homonyms that have different spelling.

right/ write

Turn right from the junction.

He can write nicely.

allowed/aloud

He read it aloud.

Pets are not allowed.

new/knew

My grandpa knew his great grandparents.

I bought new shoes.Difference Between Homonyms and Homographs

What are Homographs

Homographs refer to two or more words that share the same spelling but different meanings. They can either have different spellings or same spellings. Homographs that have different pronunciations are called heteronyms.  Homonyms that have the same pronunciation can be called homonyms.

Given below are some examples of homographs that share similar pronunciation. 

bow (weapon, bend)

He made a bow and arrows.

You have to bow to the audience at the end.

fit (tantrum, match)

The spoilt little girl threw a fit.

These two pieces don’t fit.

Given below are some examples of homographs that share different pronunciation. 

Can (modal verb, metal container)

She can sing very well.

The soup came in a can.

Desert (dry place, abandon)

The Sahara is the largest desert on Earth.

Now is not the time to desert your country.Main Difference - Homonyms vs Homographs

Difference Between Homonyms and Homographs

Definition

Homonyms refer to two or more words that share the same pronunciation but different meanings, regardless of spellings.

Homographs refer to two or more words that share the same spelling but different meanings, regardless of pronunciation.

Spelling

Homonyms may or may not share the same spelling.

Homographs share same spelling.

Pronunciation

Homonyms share the same pronunciations.

Homographs may or may not share the same pronunciation.

Difference Between Homonyms and Homographs- infographic

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