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

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 every day.
/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

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