Similar but not equal. Spanish Homonymous words.

Similar but not equal. Homonymous words.

In Spanish, as in English, there is the homonymous words. These are words with similarity of sound or write, but with different meaning.

To differentiate both types of homonymous, in Spanish will make the following definitions:

Homographs words: are those which are written identically but which, according to the context of use, have different meanings.

Homophones: they are those who sound identically but are written differently, and have different meaning.

In the case of these latter, in Spanish is acute and increases the amount, due to several special circumstances:

  • Except when it is preceded by the letter “c”, the letter “h” in Spanish is silent or phonetically transparent.
  • The letters “b” and “v”, although not should, are pronounced virtually equal in all the countries that speak Spanish.homonymous words
  • The letter “y”, when precedes vowels, sounds the same as the digraph “LL”.
  • With rare exceptions, most Spanish speakers, pronounce “z” like “s” letters and, in the cases that precedes the vowel “e” or “i”, the letter “c”.
  • There is a fourth case is much less frequent, but that should be mentioned for the purpose of learning the language. It is the use of the letter “k”, which when it precedes vowels sounds the same to:
    • the letter “c” preceding the “a”, “o” and “u”.
    • the combination “qu” preceding the “e” and the “i”.

As the reader must guess, these circumstances not only hinder the learning of a new language, but also constitute a “headache” for many native speakers, which tend to have lots of spelling mistakes when writing, for confusing ones with others throughout his life.

How to learn these homonymous words?

Though very dispersed, there are rules that allow “to find the correct word” in many cases. In others, simply there are that adjust is to the context of the phrase or sentence, as in the English.

In the case of the Homographs, let’s look at the example of the English word “pole”.

pole: to support the power line

pole: for practicing the high jump pole vault

pole: a young tree of right trunk and no branches at the base

pole: for to skiing

pole: for to fish

Another examples would be: “bank”, “crane”, “bow”, “bat”, “fine”  and many others.

But that experience only can be acquired “living” with the language. For now, we only mention a few examples of notable and often used in Spanish:

Homonymous Words – Homographs
Word Meaning 1 Meaning 2
vino wine 3rd person sing. verb to come (comes)
arco segment of a circumference weapon that shoot the arrow
justa person that does actions with justice medieval tournament
pienso 1st person sing. verb to think (think) dry concentrated food for animals
vela wax candle sail
bote boat canister
aro ring 1st person sing. verb to plow (plow)
banco place to save money furniture used for seating
rio 1st person sing. verb to laugh (laugh) river

Homophonous Words.homonymous words

In the case of the homophonous, can give as an example the following words in English: “new” and “knew”, “here” and “hear” and “two” and “too.

In Spanish, we can take the following examples:

Homonymous words – Homophones
Word 1 Meaning 1 Word 2 Meaning 2
savia sap sabia wise
botar to throw votar to vote
herrar put the horseshoe errar err
cien one hundred sien temple
cocer to boil coser to sew
bello beatiful vello fuzz
baron baron varon male
hojear leaf through ojear to glimpse
halla find aya governess
rayo ray rallo grater

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Written By Alberto Otano

3 Comments on “Similar but not equal. Spanish Homonymous words.

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