The 10 Most Common Homographs

Homographs are words that are spelt the same but pronounced differently. So what are the 10 most common in English? Here we go:

1. use


Feel free to use /juːz/ our swimming pool anytime you like.
What’s the use /juːs/ of learning English?

2. number

/ˈnʌmbə/, /ˈnʌmə/

My lucky number /ˈnʌmbə/ is 5.
If my feet get any number /ˈnʌmə/, they’ll fall off!

3. live

/lɪv/, /laɪv/

Do you live /lɪv/ around here?
I’m a big fan of live /laɪv/ wrestling.

4. does

/dəz/, /dəʊz/

Does /dəz/ anyone know the way to Leamington Spa?
Male deers are called stags and female deers are called does /dəʊz/.

5. read

/red/, /ri:d/

Have you read /red/ today’s newspaper?
Please read /ri:d/ the instructions very carefully.

6. house


I’m convinced the old house /haʊs/ on the hill is haunted.
The zoo houses /ˈhaʊzɪz/ one of the rarest animals in the world.

7. close


Could you close /cləʊz/ the window?
I’ve always been really close /cləʊs/ to my sister.

8. wind


Don’t forget to wind /waɪnd/ your watch.
The wind /wɪnd/ is terrible today!

9. lead

/led/, /li:d/

Don’t drink the water. The lead /led/pipes are rusty.
You lead /li:d/ the way and I’ll follow you.

10. row

/rəʊ/, /raʊ/

Row, row, row /rəʊ/ the boat, gently down the stream.
My neighbours had a very noisy row /raʊ/ last night.

Homographs are covered in chapter 3 of ‘The Sound of English’ and covered on all accent reduction courses at Pronunciation Studio.