Understanding English: Homographs

March 1, 2018 by IELTS

There are several different words in the English language that present challenges even for English speaking people. One category of English words are called homographs. These words are those that are spelled the same.

Sometimes they’re pronounced the same way and other times they’re different. They also have different meanings. To perform well on your IELTS exam at the IELTS Test Centre in Toronto, Ottawa, or elsewhere in Canada, you need to have a general understanding of these words and their meanings.

To help you prepare for your exam and improve your English speaking and writing skills, we’ll look at several examples of homographs. Some of the more common homographs you’re sure to encounter during your studies include:

  • Bow: This word can refer to bending in greeting as, “He bowed to show respect.” It can also refer to a weapon used for hunting as in, “He pulled back on his bow to shoot the arrow.”
  • Tear: This word can be used to signify a person is crying as “She had a tear in her eye because she was sad.” It is also used to describe the action of pulling or ripping an object such as, “After an intense workout, she was ready to tear her shirt off and take a shower.”
  • Wind: When you hear this word used, it can be used to describe the movement of air like, “The wind blew all night long.” The other meaning is used to describe turning or twisting such as, “If you do not wind your watch, it will stop."
  • Down: This word can be used to describe a direction such as, “She was heading down the stairs when she tripped and fell.” It can also be used to refer to a type of feathers like, “His favourite pillow was filled with down.”
  • Close: When you use this word, remember it has two meanings, to shut: “He got up to close the window because it had gotten colder outside.” It’s also used to describe a short distance away: “She was getting close to the restaurant when she remembered she forgot her purse.”
  • Bass: This word can be used to describe a fish or a low musical frequency such as, “He went bass fishing,” or “He liked to play the bass.
  • Lead: This English word is used to describe a type of metal such as a lead pipe, or a person who is in charge or above others like, “She auditioned for the lead role in the upcoming theatre play.”
  • Does: This word is used as the plural spelling for a group of female deer such as, “The does gathered together in the field to graze.” It is also the singular form of the word do, as in, “He does laundry every weekend.”

Remember to check back next month when we discuss homophones. For assistance in preparing for your upcoming IELTS exam, as well as study materials to help improve your skills, please feel free to explore our website further. You can also contact your nearest IELTS Test Centre for study preparation assistance or when you are ready to register and take your exam.

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