There’s no denying how confusing the English language can be. We’ve already covered the many confusing irregular verbs in English, but now let’s move onto something that even native speakers find confusing: homographs.

Homographs are words that are spelled the same, but they have different meanings. The word homograph comes from the Greek word homos, which means “the same, and graph, which means “to write.”

Below are some of the most commonly confused homographs.

1. Close

Close be an adjective used to describe something that’s only a short distance away. However, it can also be a movement wherein you cover an opening.

Example: Go to the shop that’s close to your house, and make sure to close the door before you leave.

2. Fly

A fly can be a type of flying insect, or it can be a verb denoting how something moves through the air.

Example: There’s a fly in the room. Quick, get it to fly out the open window!

3. Pupil

A pupil can be a part of the eye or it can be a student in a school. Oddly enough, these two words are related. They come from the Middle French word pupille, meaning “little girl” or “doll.” This was then used to describe schoolchildren. As for the origin of the pupil of the eye, it comes from the small reflected image (like a doll) seen when looking into someone’s eye.

Example: All the pupils in the classroom have dilated pupils because of the dim light in the room.

4. Wound

Here’s an example of homographs that are pronounced differently. Wound /wu:nd/ can mean an injury, but it can also refer to the past tense of wind, which means to wrap something, like a rope, around something else. 

Example: The vines wound around his ankle, making him fall. That’s why he has a nasty wound on his leg.

When you encounter these words, always take note of the context in which they are used. The way these words are used will give you a clue about which word they’re referring to.

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