Homonyms can be subdivided into homographs and homophones. Homographs are words which are written in the same way but have different meanings. Compare bow in ‘He took a bow /bau/ at the end of the concert’ and ‘He was wearing a bow /bau/ tie’. Homophones are words which are pronounced in the same way but are spelt differently, e.g. bow as in ‘He took a bow’ and bough, ‘the bough of a tree’.

Here are some more examples of homographs.

I live in the north of England, /liv/

Your favourite pop star is singing live on TV tonight, /laiv/

I read in bed each night. /ri:d/

I read War and Peace last year, /red/

The lead singer in the group is great. /li:d/

Lead pipes are dangerous, /led/

The wind blew the tree down, /wind/

Don’t forget to wind your watch, /waind/

I wound my watch last night, /waund/

He suffered a terrible wound in the war. /wu:nd/

Some students at Oxford spend more time learning to row well than studying, /rau/ They shared a flat for ages until they had a row over money and split up. /rau/

This book is called English Vocabulary in Use. /ju:s/

You must know how to use words as well as their meaning. /ju:z/

They lived in a large old house, /haus/

The buildings house a library and two concert halls as well as a theatre, /hauz/

The sow has five piglets, /sau/

The farmers sow the seeds in the spring, /sau/

I bathed the baby this morning. /ba:0t/

We bathed in the sea every day when we were on holiday, /beidd/

Here are some of the many examples of homophones in English.