In English language, there are many words that spell the same but differ in meaning as per their usage. These are also called homographs. Based on their usage and functions, words are categorized into eight parts of speech. These words change their meaning in accordance to their usage. However the change in the meaning of the word occurs only when the word is used as a noun, adjective, verb and adverb.
To understand this better, let us look at some examples:
- The cottage needs a good clean.
- He clean forgot about dropping the letters in the post box.
- The entertainment was good clean fun for the whole family.
- He cleaned up his act and came off drugs.
In the above example, we have used the word clean and used it in 4 different sentences, each signifying a different meaning, along with its usage as different parts of speech.
Sentence A - The cottage needs a good clean. The word clean in this sentence means the act or an instance of cleaning. Since this is an act, hence it is a noun.
Sentence B - He clean forgot about dropping the letters in the post box. The meaning of the word clean in this sentence is completely, and since it is modifying the word forgot which a verb (action word) is, it is an adverb.
Sentence C - The entertainment was good clean fun for the whole family. In this case, the meaning of the word clean is fit for everyone, nothing obscene. The word in this case is modifying fun, which is a noun; hence the word here is an adjective.
Sentence D - He cleaned up his act and came off drugs. In this case the word cleans means to rid of undesirable features. Clean has been used to denote an action, and hence in this case it is a verb.
- The new lamp had good light for reading.
- Magnesium is a light metal.
- Rahul likes to travel light.
- The choice lighted on me.
Sentence A - The new lamp had good light for reading. In this the word light is being is used to mean a particular quality or type of light. And also it has been used as a noun.
Sentence B - Magnesium is a light metal. In this the word is used to mean having relatively low density, also since it is used to describe the word metal which is a noun, it is an adjective.
Sentence C - Rahul likes to travel light. In this, the word light means little equipment, baggage, etc.
Sentence D - the choice lighted on me. In this the word light is used to denote an action thus it is verb and it means to strike or fall on.
Some of the similar kinds of words are:
We love you. (Here, love is a verb as it is showing the action in terms of expressing an emotion)
Love is blind. (Here, Love is a noun as it is a name of an emotion)
We drink water. (Here, water is a noun as it is name of the thing)
They water the plants. (Here, water is a verb as here it means giving water to plants i.e. an action)
This is a water pipe. (Here, water is a adjective as it is describing pipe which is a noun)
The heavens showered blessings from above. (Here, ‘above’ is used as a noun)
She is above average in intelligence. (Here, above is a preposition as here it is showing the position or the status of the pronoun ‘she’)
Analyze the above sentence. (Here, above is an adjective as it telling something about the noun ‘sentence’)
He did not take anything during the fast. (It names something, so it is a noun)
Muslims fast during Ramazan. (This is an activity, so fast is a verb)
She speaks fast. (This becomes adverb here as it is describing a verb i.e. )
I have pain in the back
. (It is a noun here)
I will come back
in 5 minutes. (It is an adverb here, as it describes verb- come)
Have you closed the back
door.(It is describing a noun-door, so it is an adjective)
his car through the gate. (Back is used as a verb here)
He lives near the station. (Near is a preposition here)
He got nervous as the examinations neared. (Here, it is a verb)
Most of my near relatives live abroad. (Here, it is used as an adjective for noun-relatives)
I went near enough to see over it. (Near is an adverb here which described enough)
Thus from these examples it is implicit that with different usage, the same word in English language can have different meanings.