Have you ever read something that was misleading due to inappropriate context? We often overlook mistakes in professional correspondence because some words are rarely identified by the common spellchecking program. These errors result in negative consequences for the writer and sometimes the organization represented. Homophones, homographs and homonyms are culprits that will wreak havoc unless you understand how they work.
The root –phone means “sound,” as it does in telephone and phonics.
They are words that sound the same, but have different meanings and are spelled differently.
Ex: doe, a dear…. and dough that you bake into bread
The root –graph means “write,” as it does in autograph and telegraph.
Homographs are words that share the same spelling, but have different meanings, and are sometimes pronounced differently.
Ex: The driver ‘tears’ the speeding ticket into pieces, as her eyes fill with ‘tears’ for being stopped by the police. Homographs because both words are spelled “T-E-A-R-S.”
The root –onym means “name.” You hear it in synonym and antonym.
Homonyms are two or more words that share the same pronunciation, but have different meanings, regardless of the spellings.
Ex: The ‘bank’ robber sat on the ‘bank’ of the river, wondering where to go next. ‘By’ the way, did you ‘buy’ her flowers before you bid her good-‘bye?’
Can you identify the homophones, homographs and homonyms?
The principle complaint by the principal is that he got bored during the Board of Directors meeting. To him, it took too long to read a two page report. The secretary, dressed in red, read and emphasized every minute detail about the minutes. After the minutes were read and approved, the principal soared from his seat and hit a wall! Now he’s in the hospital, broken and sore. Since everyone else displayed patience and common sense, they now visit him in the hospital with all the other patients!
Make sure you “yous” the “wright” homophones, homographs and homonyms to communicate effectively!
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Word Nerd is a quarterly feature created by members of the SDA National Membership Committee. Special thanks to Gloria Jackson, CDFA for this quarter's topic. Gloria is the Office Manager for Christy/Cobb, Inc. in Birmingham, Alabama.