Rachel's English



Heteronyms are something to be careful of. They are words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently. The difference usually comes in the fact that it is a different part of speech, and that the emphasis comes on a different syllable. Let's look at some examples. 

This word, as a noun, dove, is a kind of bird. There's a dove flying overhead. As a verb, dove is the past tense of dive. I dove off the pier. Dove, dove. Dove has the 'uh' as in 'butter' [ʌ] pronunciation, dove has the 'oh' as in 'no' [oʊ] pronunciation.

This word: close. As a verb, it means to shut something. As an adjective, it's the opposite of far. Close, close. The difference is in the consonant. Is it voiced or unvoiced? In the verb, close, it is voiced. In the adjectvie, close, it is unvoiced.

This word, as a verb, alternate, it means to go back and forth between two things. As a noun, it is a person or a thing that is the second choice. Verb: alternate, noun: alternate. It can also be an adjective, actually, describing a noun: the alternate singer. Alternate: it's the 'ay' as in 'say' [eɪ] sound, alternate, it's the schwa, 'uh' as in 'supply' [ə]. Alternate.

This word, as a verb, desert, it means to leave. As a noun, desert, it means a dry, arid region. Now the difference is in which syllable gets emphasized. And what that does is, it changes the vowel sound. Desert: de-, schwa: desert. Desert: de-, 'eh' as in 'bed' [ε], desert.

This word, as a verb it means to guide: lead. But it's also an element, a noun, lead. Lead: 'ee' as in 'she' [i], lead: 'eh' as in 'bed'.

This word, as a noun, tear, it's what happens, what comes from your eyes when you cry. As a verb, tear, it means to rip. Tear, tear. The 'ir' as in 'here' [ɪə], the 'er' as in 'share' [εə]. 

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