Learn English: Words with many meanings

Learn English: Words with many meanings

English can be really confusing! Many words sound the same, but have different meanings. Some words are even spelled exactly the same way and sound the same way too, and they still have different meanings! Today, I’m going to teach you all about these kinds of words in English, and I’ll give you many examples. You’ll learn about homonyms, homographs, and homophones. You’ll learn a little bit of grammar and some new vocabulary. Learning this stuff will definitely help you to become a better reader and writer of English. Think you know it all? Take the quiz at www.engvid.com, where you can also find many more free English lessons.


To be or not to be? That is the question. Hi. James, from EngVid. We’re looking at homonyms. What are they? Well, before we even go there, why don’t we just go to the board for a second? I want to show you something. I’m sure you’ve heard this before. All right? English people say, “Those four things are for you.” Okay. Four, for. How about this? “When you go to the store to buy the milk, swing by John’s house and say bye to him for me.” Now, a few of these words sound the same, but we know the meanings are not the same. And this is what we mean by homonyms. Okay? But I’m going to give you a little test before we get started on the lesson because I want to do some grammar. Let’s look at the board.

So Mr. E who wants to test thee, and he’s giving you a little story. Now, bear in mind, when we’re finished, at the end of the video or near the end, we’re going to come back to this with the proper words and see what you’ve learned. “I want you to bare with me as I teach you to go on to the hire lessons on EngVid. When you complete the hole video, you will be a much better student because you will no how to read and right like a native speaker.” Now, to a native speaker, actually, it’s quite funny. What I just said, if they’re not looking at the board, it’s perfect English. But if you were to actually write this on paper, they would be scratching their heads going, “What is wrong with you?” ‘Empty’, ‘job’, ‘whole’, ‘no’, and ‘correct’ don’t make any sense. And probably, what I just said to you doesn’t make any sense because you’re thinking, “Huh? You wrote that, James. You should know.” And you’re right. And in a second or two, so will you. Ready?

Okay. Ready? Let’s do the grammar. Now, what are homonyms? Well, “nym” means “name”. Right? We’re here. I’m going to go off for a second so that you can see. “Nym” means “name”. “Homo” means “same”. So it means “same name”. But this is a general term. And what we have to look at is not the general term but the individual terms for grammar. Because some teachers may say to you, “This is a homophone or homograph.” And you’re going to say, “What?” Well, I’ll break it down for you.

Homophone. Think your iPhone. Got the iTalk going here. “Phone “is for sound, right? Because we have “phonics”, sounds. So what we have here is a homophone sounds the same, but it’s spelled differently and has a different meaning. “Bare” and “bear”. Right? In the story earlier, we talked about “bare”, and it didn’t look quite right? You were right because I was using a homophone. Okay? But it also could be a homograph. What? Too many words. We’re going to simplify. You know what a graph is, right? It tells you how things are moving. Usually, graphs are written, right? So “graph”. And we come to — in English, we say “graphic”. “He had graphic speech”, which means, “He was saying something, or it was written very strongly.” So written the same — a word can be written the same, but it has a different meaning. “Bear” and “bear” — notice this one’s a noun, and this one’s a verb. In case you’re confused because I used the same thing over and over, why don’t we just look over here. That might explain it to you. Okay.

So we’re looking over here. We’ve got “bare”. The first “bare” is “not covering” or “no covering”. If this is my bare arm, you will see there is no shirt. It’s bare. I won’t take the rest off and go bare because this is for children. This isn’t an adult video. It also means “open to view”. If I say, “My life is bare, laid bare”, it means it’s open. Anyone can look at it. If you have bare cupboards at home, there’s nothing in them. Okay? They’re empty. No covering. There’s nothing inside. It’s empty.

When we look at “bear”, it’s almost the same, but this one’s an adjective. But when we say “bear” as a verb, it means “to support”. Well, you have, let’s say, a wall. And you have a table. Okay? This is your table. If I put this on it, this is having a hard time supporting it. See? The table is not really stable. Once I put this on it, it cannot bear the weight. It will break. So when we talk about support and we say “bear” — “Can it bear this?” — it means, “Can it take the weight? Is it strong enough?” That’s “bear” as a verb. Okay?