Homonym vs. Homophone vs. Homograph (Grammar Rules) - Writer's Digest

Homonym vs. Homophone vs. Homograph (Grammar Rules)

Learn when you're writing or reading a homonym vs. homophone vs. homograph with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of each.
Publish date:

We've presented our fair share of homonyms, homophones, and homographs in this Grammar Rules series. So what are they anyway? We should probably dig into that question a bit. In fact, that's the mission of this post.

(Analogy vs. Metaphor vs. Simile.)

Let's untangle these similar terms that aren't exactly the same, even if there is a little crossover.


Homonym vs. Homophone vs. Homograph

Homonym can actually carry two meanings. In one instance, a homonym is any collection of words that can be classified as homophones and/or homographs. The other instance insists that homonyms are only instances when words are both homophones AND homographs. Either way, let's explain homophones and homographs.

Homophone is one of two or more words that are pronounced the same but have a different meaning or spelling. Here are a few examples: 

They sound the same, but they have different spellings and meanings.

Homograph, on the other hand, is one of two or more words that spelled the same but have a different meaning or pronunciation. For instance, the word "tear" is different if "you tear a page" than if "you let that tear run down your cheek when you're sad." Spelled the same but different meaning and pronunciation.

Make sense?

A final note on homonyms, homophones, and homographs:

I like to give little clues for figuring out when you're using one term or the other. So just remember that homophones sound the same, like if you were talking on a phone. Meanwhile, homographs are spelled the same, like if you used a graphite pencil. And then, homonyms are either, both, and/or only both.


Grammar and Mechanics

No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.

Click to continue.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Fight or Flight

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's fighting time.


Vintage WD: 10 Rules for Suspense Fiction

John Grisham once admitted that this article from 1973 helped him write his thrillers. In it, author Brian Garfield shares his go-to advice for creating great suspense fiction.


The Chaotically Seductive Path to Persuasive Copy

In this article, author, writing coach, and copywriter David Pennington teaches you the simple secrets of excellent copywriting.

Grinnell_Literary Techniques

Using Literary Techniques in Narrative Journalism

In this article, author Dustin Grinnell examines Jon Franklin’s award-winning article Mrs. Kelly’s Monster to help writers master the use of literary techniques in narrative journalism.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 545

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a cleaning poem.


New Agent Alert: Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary Services

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary Services) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.


5 Tips for Writing Scary Stories and Horror Novels

Bestselling and award-winning author Simone St. James shares five tips for writing scary stories and horror novels that readers will love to fear.


On vs. Upon vs. Up On (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use on vs. upon vs. up on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.