Homonyms, or multiple-meaning words, are words that have the same spelling and usually sound alike, but have different meanings (e.g. dog bark, tree bark).
Beginning in kindergarten, children learn to use context to determine which meaning of a multiple-meaning word is correct in a sentence. Word study for multiple-meaning words continues as students progress and their vocabularies increase.
Examples of homonyms used in sentences:
- I left my phone on the left side of the room.
- The baseball pitcher asked for a pitcher of water.
- The committee chair sat in the center chair.
- The crane flew above the construction crane.
- While they are at the play, I’m going to play with the dog.
- She will park the car so we can walk in the park.
Common Core State Standards Related to Homonyms
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking: Correctly use frequently confused words (e.g., to, too, two; there, their).
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 4 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
Use context (e.g., definitions, examples, cause/effect relationships and comparisons in text, or restatements in text) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
Use context (e.g., cause/effect relationships and comparisons in text) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
Identify new meanings for familiar words and apply them accurately (e.g., knowing duck is a bird and learning the verb to duck).
Multiple Meaning Words (K-2):
- List 1: bolt, bat, bowl, bat, bark, bowl, bark, bolt, bit, bit
- List 2: clip, can, box, clip, can, club, club, box, check, check
- List 3: eye, dip, down, down, dip, fair, dress, fair, dress, eye
- List 4: foot, hard, gum, gum, fly, hard, file, fly, foot, file
- List 5: hit, jam, last, left, last, hide, left, hide, jam, hit
- List 6: mean, mean, lie, miss, miss, over, nails, nails, lie, over
- List 7: play, pet, pet, play, park, pen, park, pen, punch, punch
- List 8: row, root, rock, scale, row, ring, ring, scale, rock, root
- List 9: stamp, seal, seal, star, stamp, shake, star, sink, sink, shake
- List 10: tap, swing, tire, stuff, stick, stick, swing, tire, tap, stuff
Multiple Meaning Words (3-5):
- List 1: blue, before, bore, bear, bear, bore, bill, before, blue, bill
- List 2: brush, chest, clear, chest, count, count, change, change, brush, clear
- List 3: fence, game, fan, game, ear, fork, fence, ear, fork, fan
- List 4: kind, jerk, head, kind, kid, kid, head, jerk, handle, handle
- List 5: log, leaves, light, mold, mine, leaves, mine, mold, light, log
- List 6: paste, plain, pitcher, organ, pitcher, paste, plain, organ, note, note
- List 7: pupil, pool, racket, pound, pool, racket, range, range, pound, pupil
- List 8: scale, saw, rose, rent, saw, right, scale, right, rent, rose
- List 9: shed, space, ship, sole, sole, spring, ship, spring, shed, space
- List 10: steer, stern, squash, stoop, stern, stable, squash, steer, stable, stoop
- List 11: watch, store, trunk, trunk, yard, train, train, yard, store, watch
Multiple Meaning Words (6-8):
- List 1: against, bluff, bluff, batter, case, case, batter, bank, bank, against
- List 2: charge, chair, charge, column, company, cobbler, cobbler, column, chair, company
- List 3: dread, date, either, date, dread, dusting, crane, dusting, crane, either
- List 4: fuse, hail, junk, fuse, hail, fire, initial, initial, fire, junk
- List 5: loom, lash, marker, loom, marker, like, like, lash, late, late
- List 6: patient, novel, novel, mint, monitor, mint, minor, patient, minor, monitor
- List 7: period, period, present, present, peer, raise, press, press, raise, peer
- List 8: scale, rash, rare, right, right, scale, runner, rare, rash, runner
- List 9: shower, second, skin, school, shower, skin, scan, school, scan, second
- List 10: staple, speaker, soil, spell, soil, spell, state, staple, state, speaker
- List 11: trace, suit, strike, terrific, tackle, terrific, trace, suit, strike, tackle
Multiple Meaning Words (9-12):
- List 1: board, awful, atmosphere, bow, blunt, atmosphere, board, awful, bow, blunt
- List 2: certain, buckle, coach, cabinet, cabinet, certain, channel, coach, buckle, channel
- List 3: custom, doctor, cobble, draft, current, doctor, draft, custom, cobble, current
- List 4: firm, fast, flounder, fast, figure, frank, firm, flounder, figure, frank
- List 5: harbor, harbor, hatch, ground, ground, grave, hamper, grave, hatch, hamper
- List 6: overlook, overlook, lounge, lean, incomparable, might, lean, lounge, might, incomparable
- List 7: page, pitch, pawn, periodic, palm, periodic, page, pawn, palm, pitch
- List 8: plane, refrain, riot, prune, refrain, reservation, prune, reservation, riot, plane
- List 9: solution, spare, sentence, sanction, solution, sanction, season, spare, season, sentence
- List 10: taxes, spruce, temper, taxes, spruce, swallow, temple, temper, swallow, temple
VocabularySpellingCity.com provides word lists, printables, and interactive games and activities that give students the opportunity to understand that some words have multiple meanings and to practice distinguishing their meanings through context.
Try Sentence Writing Practice with the Grade 3-5 Homonyms list.