At last look, the English language is made up of one hundred-seventy thousand words. When you include slang, close to three-quarters of those words have more than one meaning. If you have a dictionary handy, take a look! It is hard to find that word that only has one meaning, is it? Most of these words only have a slight difference in meaning from their root definition, but some words can be opposites as well. In most cases the context the words are used in dictates the part of speech the word serves as and as a result the meaning intended for the word.
There are three common classifications of words that have multiple meanings: homographs, homonyms, and homophones. Interest fact as these terms start with the prefix homo-, which means the same. The first classification is homographs, these are words that are spelled the same, but they have different pronunciations and meanings. The homograph that makes me scratch my head is the word bass. This could be a fish you pull out of the river or a tone of music that could make your car shake. Homophones are words that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings. An example are the words right and write. One is the outside of left and the other requires a pen or pencil. The last classification can confuse you the because the words sound the same and can have either the same or different spelling and that is called a homonym. An example is the word fair. This could mean being objective or a county-wide festival.