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 terms that are spelled the same, but they have different pronunciations and meanings. The homograph that makes me scratch my head is "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 terms 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 they sound the same and can have either the same or different spelling and that is called a homonym. An example is the term fair. This could mean being objective or a county-wide festival. This collection of worksheets explores fun and engaging aspects of this topic. The names of animals and the sounds that they make often can swivel into multiple words. We encourage students to use terms in multiple contexts within sentences that they originally write. These worksheets work on expanding vocabulary by identifying words that can be used in different context. Having the ability to master these types of vocabulary terms can help heighten your ability to express yourself and engage your audience in all of your written work.
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Printable Words That Have Multiple Meanings Worksheets
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Sometimes the meaning of a word changes depending on whether it is functioning as a noun, a verb, or an adjective. Read each sentence below. Then, based on the context, choose the correct class for each bolded term. Check your answer by reading the definition.
Circle the letter of the sentence in which the bold has the same meaning as in the original sentence.
How Can Words Have Multiple Meanings?
Have you ever looked for a word's meaning in a dictionary and gotten confused with several meanings beside it? You must have wondered how can words have multiple meanings? It is quite possible in the English language. Words that have identical spelling and are pronounced similarly or either of both come under the category of Homonyms. These words are the English language's tricksters because we do not know the context in which it is said or written; we won't know which meaning to associate them.
Examples of Homonyms
1. Bail vs. Bail vs. Bale
bail - to clear water bail - release of a prisoner bale - a large bundle
2. Band vs. Band vs. Banned
band - a ring, something that binds band - a group banned - prohibited
3. Capital vs. Capital vs. Capitol
capital - punishable by death capital - the chief city capitol - the building where the legislature meets
4. Cent vs. Scent vs. Sent
cent - penny coin scent - an odor sent - past tense of send
5. For vs. Fore vs. Four
for - on behalf of fore - on the front four - 3 + 1
6. Their vs. There vs. They're
their - (used to show) belonging there - refer to a place they're - contraction of they are
What are Homographs?
Such words with identical spellings but varying meanings and pronunciations are called homographs. This is a subtype of homonyms, but unlike them, homographs are words that have the same spellings. These replicas of words cause too much confusion if you don't know in which context is the word written. Here are some examples of homographs.
We learned this topic last week. - (learn-duh) She is an extremely learned individual. - (learn-ned)
This is not a minute issue. - (my-new-tuh) Wait a minute! - (me-nut)
He is going to read the letter now. - (ree-duh) He read the letter a day before yesterday. - (red)
The wind swished around the house. - (win-duh) Wind the clock up as you leave for school. - (whine-d)
They wound up the clock as soon as they got it. - ( wa-un-duh) He inflicted a wound from the punch. - (woon-duh)
What are Homophones?
Words that have the same sounds but different spellings are called homophones. Again, it is a subtype of homonyms, and people get confused when these words are used in conversations or general speeches. Some of the examples of homophones are written below.
1. Alter vs. altar
Did you alter this dress? (meaning: change) He gazed at the altar, and a shiver ran down his spine. (meaning: a high flat place for religious offerings)
2. Boar vs. bore
Boar hunting should be banned. (meaning: animal) Let us bore oil from this canister. (meaning: to make a hole)
3. Fair vs. fare
Even though he has an irritable personality, he's a fair teacher. (meaning: just) Do we have your taxi fare? (meaning: price)
4. Genes vs. jeans
They have rare genes in their blood. (meaning: plural of a gene) I want to pay for this pair of washed light jeans. (meaning: a type of clothing)
5. In vs. inn
There is enough space in the last closet. (meaning: preposition) We will get you a room at the nearest inn. (meaning: hotel)
Our Final Thoughts
To avoid confusion with homonyms, it is always recommended to read the text again and again, or in the case of homophones, listen to the person talking carefully to avoid miscommunication.