Heteronym

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IPA vowels
æ ɑː
trap father - start
e
dress face square
ɪ ɪə
kit fleece near
ɒ əʊ ɔː
lot goat taught
ʊ ʊə
foot goose mature
juː jʊə
cute cure
ʌ ə ɜː
strut comma nurse
ɔɪ
price mouth choice
IPA consonants
Normal sound: /b, d, f, g, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w, z/
 ʃ  ŋ
show church sing
ʒ  j 
usual judge you
θ ð s
think that see
IPA Stress
ˈ Primary stress
hotel /həʊˈtel/
ˌ Secondary stress
understand
/ˌʌndərˈstænd/
IPA Syllabification
. nitrate /ˈnaɪ.treɪt/, night-rate /ˈnaɪt.reɪt/

Two different words are heteronyms if they have different meanings and different pronunciations but share the spelling. For example the metal "lead" /led/ and the verb "lead" /liːd/.

Wikipedia has a long list of heteronyms in Heteronym (linguistics).

Common heteronyms[edit]

Noun is stressed in the first syllabe, verb is stressed in the second or in the last syllable
Spelling Pronunciation PoS Meaning Example
attribute /ˈætrɪbjuːt/ n. a characteristic Its best attribute is its durability.
/əˈtrɪbjuːt/ v. to associate ownership Scholars attribute this musical piece to Bach.
conflict /ˈkɒnflɪkt// n. serious disagreement Violence is no way to resolve conflict!
/kənˈflɪkt/ v. to come into collision The two news reports seem to conflict each other.
record /ˈrekərd/ n. physical information I have a record of my medical expenses.
/rɪˈkɔːrd/ v. to keep a permanent account I plan to record my medical expenses.

Other examples

  • conduct, content, contrast, desert, object, present, produce, project, survey, subject, transfer, transport


Noun is pronounced with /s/, verb is pronouced with /z/.
Spelling Pronunciation PoS Meaning Example
abuse /əˈbjuːs/ n. improper treatment This is an abuse.
/əˈbjuːz/ v. to use improperly Please don't abuse.
house /ˈhaʊs/ n. a residential building I live in a small house.
/ˈhaʊz/ v. to place in residence I can house you for only 3 days.
use /juːs/ n. function, benefit I have a use for 10 euros.
/juːz/ v. employ, utilize I use a toothbrush every day.
Other
Spelling Pronunciation PoS Meaning Example
alternate /ˈɔːltərnət/ adj. other Peter and Mary do dishes on alternate days.
/ælˈtɜːrnət/
/ˈɔːltərneɪt/ v. to take turns Peter and Mary alternate doing the dishes.
dove /dʌv/ n. a bird A white dove symbolizes peace.
/dəʊv/ v. past tense of dive Jane dove into a swimmingpool.
invalid /ɪnˈvælɪd/ adj. incorrect An invalid password.
/ˈɪnvəlɪd/ n. a disabled person A chair for invalids.
Keynes /keɪnz/ proper name John Maynard Keynes, British economist
/kiːnz/ proper name Milton Keynes, a city in England
lead /liːd/ v. to guide John will lead you to your room.
/led/ n. a metal / a stick of graphite A protective wall made of lead. My pencil broke its lead.
read /riːd/ v. present tense I read the news everyday.
/red/ v. past tense and past participle I read Tom Sawyer when I was a teenager.
tear /ˈtɪər/ n. liquid produced by crying A tear dropped into his cup.
/ˈteər/ v. to separate It is easy to tear a sheet of paper.
used /juːst/ modal verb used to indicates something that happened repeatedly I used to read a lot when I was young.
/juːzd/ v. past tense of use: employed, utilized I used my toothbrush yesterday.
Toothpaste is used to clean your teeth.
wind /wɪnd/ n. air movement The afternoon wind.
/waɪnd/ v. to tighten a spring In a wristwatch you must turn the crown to wind the spring.
wound /waʊnd/ v. past tense and past participle of wind Older watches had to be wound every day.
/wuːnd/ n. an injury Ann fell and received a wound.

Riddle[edit]

What words change their pronunciation when capitalized?

The answer to this riddle is below.

Spelling Pronunciation PoS Meaning
polish
Polish
/ˈpɒlɪʃ/ noun a substance used to make something shiny
/ˈpəʊlɪʃ/ adjective from Poland
job
Job
/dʒɒb/ noun work or task
/dʒəʊb/ proper name a biblical character
nice
Nice
/naɪs/ adjective pleasant; friendly
/niːs/ proper name a city in France
reading
Reading
/ˈriːdɪŋ/ -ing form, noun from the verb read
/ˈredɪŋ/ proper name a city in England