How did you read the words in quote in the headline? Perhaps, you thought the author made an error in typing? No, it’s not an error, but what is called homonyms in English language. Care to have more details as provided by about.com?

What Are Hononyms?

The word homonym was derived from Greek and means same name.

Homonyms are two or more words that have the same sound or spelling but differ in meaning. Generally, the term homonym refers both to homophones (words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings, such as pair and pear) and to homographs (words that are spelled the same but have different meanings, such as “deliberate on a matter” and “be deliberate in your intentions”).

Note though that some dictionaries and textbooks define and distinguish these three terms in different ways. Some equate homonyms only with homophones (words that sound the same). Others equate homonyms only with homographs (words that look the same).

Examples of some commonly confused words.

bow – to bend the head, body or knee bow – a weapon  bow – a type of knot
capital – punishable by death capital – chief city  
ceiling – top of a room sealing – setting, fastening
cell – small unit sell – to give up for money 
cite – mention, quote   sight – vision  site – place 
coarse – rough course – path, procedure  
complement –make complete compliment – praise     
conduct –behaviour conduct – to lead
council – assembly counsel – advice, to advise   
days – plural of day daze – stun  
dear – loved one, valued deer – the animal
desert – to abandon desert – dry land  dessert – after-dinner treat
discrete – distinct dye – colour  
discreet– tactful discrete – distinct  
elicit– draw out illicit – illegal  
eminent– distinguished imminent – soon

Some more examples in sentences:

  • The story of how squirrels came to have a bushy tail is such a long tale.
  • I enjoy bass fishing and playing the bass guitar.
  • The group’s lead singer carried a lead pipe for protection.
  • I have been to New York. There, I observed that most people like being by themselves.
  • I would advise that you to listen to your mother’s advice, she means well for you.
  • The aide to the governor was the one handing out the monetary aid to beneficiaries.
  • I sent him to buy me a perfume of a particular flowery scent.
  • The sun shone on the face of her newborn son.
  • I said bye to him as I walked by the kiosk where I had gone to buy bread.
  • My mother would always tell me “Be deliberate when you deliberate on important issues”.

I am sure that with these examples, you can come up with many of your own, some of which you use in everyday speech and writing. Why not share some of those with us in the Comments?