Heteronyms, as the title suggests, are words that are spelled the same but are pronounced differently. So how are you supposed to know how to pronounce them…?
Language is all about context. Words mean different things in different situations depending on the context.
Learning with heteronyms will help you to learn to read by context, instead of focusing on each individual word, one at a time.
It’s impossible to know how to pronounce a heteronym unless you use the words around it as guides.
Improve Your Pronunciation
Included in this article is an mp3 of a native speaker reading each sentence correctly.
To get optimal value from this exercise, it’s recommended that you read the first sentence out loud, then listen to the mp3 to check your pronunciation.
Next, pause the mp3 and read the next sentence out loud, then listen to the mp3 again. Then, if you didn’t understand all of the words, look at the definitions and learn the meanings of the words. (Be sure to add any words you don’t know to Anki)
Repeat this until you’ve completed all 19 sentences.
Fun English with Heteronyms
1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
- bandage – material used to help protect an injury
- wound (v) – past tense of “wind,” meaning movement in a circular motion, wrap
- wound (n) – an injury
2. The farm was used to produce produce.
- produce (v) – make or manufacture
- produce (n) – things that have been grown on a farm: fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.
3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
- dump – a place for depositing trash
- refuse (v) – not willing to accept
- refuse (n) – trash
4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
- polish (v) – to make the surface of something smooth and shiny by rubbing it
- Polish (n) – something or someone from Poland
5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
- lead (v) – to organize and direct, to be in command
- lead (n) – a type of metal, used in bullets
6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
- desert (v) – to leave or abandon in a disloyal way
- dessert (n) – a sweet food eaten at the end of a meal
- desert (v) – a place with little rain or snowfall
7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
- no time like the present – better to do something now than leave it for later
- present (v) – to give something to someone
- present (n) – a gift
8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
- bass (n) – a type of fish
- bass (n) – an instrument of the lowest range
- drum – a percussion instrument
9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
- dove (n) – a white bird, often used as a sign of peace
- dove (v) – past tense of dive, to jump head first into something
10. I did not object to the object.
- object (v) – to disapprove or disagree
- object (n) – a material thing that can be seen and touched
11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
- invalid (v) – not valid, not legally acceptable
- invalid (n) – a person made weak or disabled by illness or injury
12. They were too close to the door to close it.
- close (adj) – a short distance away from something
- close (v) – shut
13. The buck does funny things when does are present.
- buck – a male deer
- does (v) – to perform an action
- does (n) – female deer
14. A sewer fell down into the sewer line.
- sewer – someone who makes clothes using needles and thread
- sewer line – pipes used to carry human waste
15. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
- sow (n) – a pig
- sow (v) – to plant
16. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
- wind (n) – the natural movement of the air
- wind (v) – to move in a circular or twisting way
17. After a number of injections my jaw got number.
- number (n) – an unspecific amount (1, 3, 6, 10, 15…)
- jaw – the bone structure of the mouth and teeth
- number (adj) – less able to feel sensation
18. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
- tear (n) – a rip, hole, or split
- tear (n) – what leaves your eyes when you cry
- shed a tear – when you cry only one tear
19. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
- subject (v) – to cause or force someone to do something
- subject (n) – a person or thing that is being discussed
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