Par Francesca

22 mars 2021

L’anglais est une langue difficile à apprendre. Mais lorsqu’il s’agit de construire le vocabulaire et l’orthographe, il est essentiel d’apprendre la différence entre les termes linguistiques homographes, homophones et homonymes. Bien comprendre ces termes vous aidera à maîtriser la langue anglaise et à renforcer votre confiance lorsque vous parlez.

Note de Pierre : cet article vous est proposé par Francesca du site FLE pédagogique. Vous y trouverez des exemples issus de l’anglais, mais bien connaître la distinction entre homographes, homophones et homonymes vous aidera quelle que soit votre langue de prédilection.

Commençons par les bases. 

Première partie : l’homographe

Qu’est-ce qu’un homographe ?

Un homographe est un mot avec la même orthographe mais avec une signification différente. Cependant, certains dictionnaires insistent sur le fait que le son doit également être différent. La prononciation différente d’un mot aide l’apprenant à distinguer le sens.

C’est là que les apprenants de langue font généralement des erreurs. Si vous ne comprenez pas le contexte dans lequel le mot est utilisé, vous risquez de ne pas apprendre à le prononcer correctement. 

Cas n°1 : prononciation identique, sens différent  

Par exemple, la prononciation du mot bank (/bæŋk/) est la même, mais il y a deux significations.

  • She went to the bank to deposit her check. 
    ↳ A financial institution / une institution financière
  • We often jog near the river bank
    ↳ A land along the river / des terres bordant la rivière

Voici d’autres mots avec la même prononciation mais des significations différentes :

Mot

Phrase 1

Phrase 2

Mass

A mass of garbage was piled up outside our building.

The film Ratatouille had a mass appeal. 


Une masse de déchets s’accumulait devant notre immeuble.

Le film Ratatouille a connu un large succès.

Stalk

The stalk of celery is known to be used in herbal remedies. 

A lion stalks its prey.


La branche de céleri est connue pour être utilisée dans des remèdes à base de plantes. 

Le lion traque sa proie.

Cas n°2 : prononciation et sens différents

Par exemple, le mot live a deux prononciations possibles : live (verbe) ⇒ /lɪv/  et  live (adverbe) ⇒  /laɪv/

Alors dans chacune de ces phrases, le mot live est lu d’une manière différente. 

  • I live in France.
    ↳ (verbe, /lɪv/)  
  • The live football match was exhilarating.
    ↳ (adverbe, /laɪv/)
I live in France.
The live football match was exhilarating.

A noter qu’un mot possédant une orthographe unique, mais plusieurs prononciations affectant son sens, est appelé hétéronyme.

D’autres exemples d’homographes :

Lead

Prononciation

Exemple

Sens 1 : mener (verbe)

/liːd/

We need a good government to lead the country.

Sens 2 : plomb (nom)

/lɛd/

The lead pipes need to be changed. 

Sow

Prononciation

Exemple

Sens 1 : semer (verbe)

/səʊ/

As you sow, so shall you reap. 

Sens 2 : truie (nom)

/saʊ/

The sow gave birth to many piglets 

Wind

Prononciation

Exemple

Sens 1 : vent (nom)

/ˈwɪnd/

The wind blows in my face.

Sens 2 : enrouler (verbe)

 /waɪnd/

You need to wind your clock.  

Deuxième partie : l’homophone

Qu’est-ce qu’un homophone ?

Un homophone est un mot qui se prononce de la même manière mais qui a des significations différentes. Les homophones sont également orthographiés différemment.

Voici plusieurs exemples d’homophones :

Mots homophones

Exemple 1

Exemple 2

Allowed / aloud (/əˈlaʊd/)

Only one person is allowed to enter the room.

Reading aloud helps your pronunciation.

Alter / altar (/ˈɔl.tɚ/)

Hyde is Jekyll’s alter-ego.

The father stood at the altar as he read out the sermon.

Ant / aunt (/ænt)

An ant can lift upto 10 times its body weight. 

My aunt bought me a cake on my birthday.

Ate / eight (/eɪt/)

She ate madeline daily for breakfast. 

There are eight rows in the classroom. 

Ball / bawl (/bɔl/)

She wore a new dress to the ball.

The baby started to bawl when he got hungry.

Band / banned (/bænd/)

He used to play in a band

Smoking is banned in public places. 

Bare / bear (/bɛəɹ/)

Too much sun damages your bare skin.

He couldn’t bear to stand in the heat. 

Be / bee (/biː/)

To be, or not to be, that is the question.

The bee went from flower to flower in the garden.

Beach / beech (/biːt͡ʃ/)

They decided to go to the beach for a picnic.

A beech is a tree native to temperate Europe, Asia, and North America.

Billed / build (/bɪld/)

They billed her incorrectly. 

They wanted to build a sand castle. 

Beer / bier (/bɪə/)

The beer gardens are always full. 

Her bier was carried to the cemetery.

Blue / blew (/bluː/)

The aeroplane flies over the blue ocean.

The wind blew the leaves away. 

Bored / board (/bɔɹd/)

The class was bored with the long lectures.

The problem was presented to the Board of Directors

Break / brake (/bɹeɪk/)

She drank a lot of coffee during her break

He has to fix the brake cables.

Buy / by (/baɪ/)

My uncle wants to buy me an iPad.

They will arrive at their destination by 6pm. 

Capital / capitol (/ˈkæp.ɪ.təl/)

Please fill the form in capital letters only.

The new President will give his speech at the Capitol tomorrow.

Cellar / seller (/ˈsɛlɚ/)

The Smiths built a wine cellar themselves.

The seller refuses to give a discount.

Cereal / serial (/ˈsɪriəl/)

Betty eats a large bowl of cereal every morning.

He gave the serial number of his computer.

Cite / site (/saɪt/)

Remember to cite the author.

There was an inspection on the construction site.

Coarse / course (/kɔːɹs/)

The man was coarse.

Register soon to attend the French language course.

Council / counsel (/ˈkaʊn.səl/)

The school council brought new rules.

Parents must counsel their children regularly

Deer / dear (/dɪɹ/)

I saw a deer in the zoo today. 

The book Heide is very dear to my heart.

Die / dye (/daɪ/)

One should die in peace.

Rita loves to dye her hair in bizarre colours.

Discreet / discrete (/dɪsˈkɹiːt/)

They have been very discreet about their business.

Life changes in discrete ways.

Dough / doe (/dəʊ/)

Cookie dough is my favorite thing to eat.

Doe is a female deer and has no antlers.

Dual / duel (/ˈduəl/)

She played a dual role in the film.

The knight challenged him to a duel.

Fir / fur (/fɝ/)

There was a line of fir trees on either side of the road.

Cats have sleek fur.

Flea / flee (/fliː/)

She was bitten by a flea.

He wants to flee the country.

Flour / flower (/flaʊɚ/)

Ella dusted flour from her face and continued baking.

The flower garden across the street looks beautiful.

For / four (/fɔɹ/)

The cake is for Amy’s birthday.

Bring four glasses to the dining table. 

Forward / foreword (/ˈfɔɹwɚd/)

Always put your best foot forward.

The book has a foreword by the Minister.

Foul / fowl (/faʊl/)

No love is foul, no prison is fair.

A fowl is an animal recognised as a chicken.

Fair / fare (/fɛr/)

It is not fair to cheat and lie.

The taxi fare for the ride home was very high.

Genes / jeans (/ˈdʒiːnz/)

Genes decide the physical traits.

Mr. Trumann always wears a pair of blue jeans and a white t-shirt.

Hear / here (/hɪr/)

Ask no questions and hear no lies.

The journey begins here.

Heel / heal (/hɪɹ/)

The lack of defenders in the football match is their Achilles’ heel.

A broken bone takes time to heal.

Idle / idyll (/ˈaɪdəl/)

The devil finds work for idle hands to do.

The idyll of Provence.

Knap / nap (/næp/)

The prominent grains make quartz difficult to knap

A ten-minute power nap can boost your productivity. 

Knave / nave (/neɪv/)

They do not need to turn knaves into knights.

The nave pillars were of white marble.

Leak / leek (/liːk/)

A small leak will sink a great ship.

Leek is a broadleaf vegetable.

Leased / least (/list/)

The proprietor leased a part of his office to another firm.

At least now people are more aware of global warming. 

Made / maid (/meɪd/)

The compressors are made in Germany.

A maid that laughs is half taken.

Maize / maze (/meɪz/)

Maize can grow in any soil.

I was led to a maze of corridors. 

Meet / meat (/miːt/)

We meet every weekend at the cafe.

She is trying to stop eating meat.

Night / knight (/naɪt/)

At night, all cats are grey.

The knight in shining armor came to rescue the damsel in distress.

Peace / piece (/piːs/)

If you want peace, prepare for war.

I would like a piece of cake.

Peal / peel (/piːl/)

There was a sudden peal of thunder.

I always peel my apple.

Queue / cue (/kju/)

Please form a queue outside the office.

She waited for a cue to go on.

Read / red (/ɹɛd/)

I have read all Harry Potter books.

She turned red when Phil complimented her.

Reek / wreak (/rik/)

There was a terrible reek coming from the walls.

Insects can wreak havoc on crops.

Sole / soul (/soʊl/)

His sole aim was to be an entrepreneur.

Brevity is the soul of wit.

Steak / stake (/steɪk/)

She made beef steak for dinner.

They own 50% stake in the company.

Steal / steel (/stiːl/)

Paul didn’t steal the watch.

The tongue is not made of steel, yet it cuts.

Straight / strait (/stɹeɪt/)

He went straight to bed.

A strait is a narrow passage of water that joins two large areas of water.

Whole / hole (/hoʊl/)

She read the whole magazine in an hour.

Karen punched a hole into the wall.

Weak / week (/wik/)

Not eating healthy makes you weak for days.

Raul works 4 days a week.

Weather / whether (/ˈwɛðɚ/)

The weather is deteriorating as the days pass.

I am not sure whether she will come or not.

A présent, voici quelques homophones en anglais qui sont très souvent confondus :

Mots homophones

Exemple 1

Exemple 2

There / their (/ðɛəɹ/)

There are 7 days in a week.

John and Mary had their first child in September.

Compliment / complement (/ˈkɑmpləmənt/)

The boss gave him a big compliment for his diligent work.

Ketchup is a perfect complement for fries.

Then / than (/ðɛn/)

He then went to his aunt’s home for supper.

She is older than Keith.

To / too (/tu/)

I go to work everyday at 9 am.

It is never too late to learn.

Your / you’re (/jʊr/)

Your books are on the table.

You’re late to the class again.

Accept / except (/ækˈsɛpt//ɪkˈsɛpt/)*

The teacher will accept her award in the ceremony.

Everyone arrived at the party except Safa.

Access / excess (/ˈæksɛs/ – /ɪk.ˈsɛs/)*

The only access to the house is through the main door.

Exercising is the right way to lose excess weight.

*Les deux derniers couples de mots (accept / except, access / excess) ne sont pas exactement des homophones : leur prononciation diffère légèrement. Mais comme ils sont très souvent confondus, il était important de les inclure.

Troisième partie : l’homonyme

Qu’est-ce qu’un homonyme ?

Un homonyme est un mot qui est homographe (mots qui ont la même orthographe, quelle que soit la prononciation) ou homophone (mots qui partagent la même prononciation, quelle que soit l’orthographe), ou les deux

Par exemple : sea and see  

  • The Mediterranean Sea is very beautiful. 
  • We see a movie every weekend. 

En termes simples, les mots qui ont une orthographe ou une prononciation identique, tout en conservant des significations différentes.

Voici une liste de mots synonymes, qui sont homographes et homophones.

Mot

Sens 1

Sens 2

Address (əˈdrɛs/)

Adresse (nom)
Please write your telephone number and address here.

S’adresser à (verbe)
The Dean will address the students.

Air (/ˈɛə/)

L’air (nom)
A tasty odor in the air seems to float in the house.

Exposer, diffuser (verbe)
He airs his ideas openly.

Arm (/ɑɹm/)

Bras (nom)
Jack broke his arm playing volleyball.

Armer (verbe)
The police arm themselves with weapons.

Band (/bænd/)

Groupe (nom)
The band was playing their favorite song.

Bande (nom)
The rubber band snapped as she tried to tie her pens together.

Bark (/bɑɹk/)

Aboyer (verbe)
The dogs on the street bark every night.

Ecorce (nom)
He built a clock with a bark of a tree.

Bat (/bæt/)

Chauve-souris (nom)
A bat flies swiftly.

Cligner (verbe)
They won’t bat an eye.

Bright (/bɹaɪt/)

Lumineux (adjectif)
The room is bright and warm in summers.

Brillant (adjectif)
She is a bright person.

Current ( /ˈkʌɹənt/)

Courant (nom)
The river has a fast current.

Actuel (adjectif)
She is the current CEO of the company.

Die (/daɪ/)

Mourir (verbe)
Better die with honour than with shame.

(nom)
It is your turn to roll the die.

Express ( /ɛk.ˈspɹɛs/)

Exprimer (verbe)
No words can express my grief.

Express (adjectif)
The express train leaves in 5 minutes.

Fair (/fɛə/)

Bon, juste (adjectif)
They got a fair deal at the flea market.

Clair (adjectif)
Her fair skin was burnt on a harsh sunny day.

Kind (/kaɪnd/)

Gentil (adjectif)
He is always kind to me.

Type (nom)
There is only one kind of evidence against him.

Match (/mæt͡ʃ/)

Correspondre, associer (verbe)
He tried to match the pieces of the puzzle.

Match (nom)
The cricket match at Wembley was rescheduled due to rain.

Mean (/miːn/)

Méchant (adjectif)
He was a mean bully in school.

Vouloir, signifier (verbe)
Parents mean well for their children.

Pole (/pəʊl/)

Perche (nom)
Never pole a boat from the bow.

Pôle (nom)
He went to the North Pole for 6 months.

Pound (paʊnd)

Livre (nom)
Penny wise and pound foolish.

Frapper (verbe)
Boxers pound at each other for the trophy.

Rose (/ɹəʊz/)

Monter (passé du verbe to rise)
She rose to success swiftly.

Rose (nom)
Every rose has its thorn.

Ring (/ɹɪŋ/)

Anneau (nom)
Jack proposed to her with a ring.

Appeler (téléphone)
Claudia will ring me tomorrow to confirm her arrival.

Right (/ˈɹaɪt/)

Droit (nom)
Might is right.

A droite (adverbe)
The office is in the right wing.

Spring (/ʃpriŋ/)

Printemps (nom)
Many flowers bloom in early spring.

Sauter (verbe)
High rise buildings spring up all over the city.

Les mots suivants sont homonymes, en étant homophones (ils ont la même prononciation), mais pas homographes (leur orthographe est différente).

Prononciation

Orthographe et sens 1

Orthographe et sens 2

/ɑɹk/

Arc – arc
The rainbow formed a beautiful arc in the sky.

Ark – arche
Noah’s Ark was a massive ship, built at God’s command.

/ˈbɛɹi/

Berry – baie
Berry juice has a strong aroma.

Bury – enterrer
She wants to bury her cat in her yard.

/ˈbraɪdəl/

Bridal – nuptial
The bridal veil is intended to cover some part of the face.

Bridle – bride
He was leading a horse by the bridle.

/ˈkɔɹəl/

Choral – chorale
The choral performance was harmonious.

Coral – corail
True coral needs no painter’s brush.

/dʌn/

Done – fait
He is done with his project within an hour.

Dun – gris-brun
When the dun evening comes.

/ɡeɪt/

Gait – allure
He walked with a rolling gait.

Gate – porte

They shut the university gate at 10 am.

/ɪnˈsaɪt/

Incite – provoquer
Don’t incite hatred with harsh words.

Insight – perception
.He gave me an insight on the new project.

/ˈmɛdəl/

Medal – médaille
He won a gold medal in the race.

Meddle – Empiéter sur qch.
Don’t meddle in people’s affairs.

/ɹʌŋ/

Rung – sonner (passé de ring)
He rung the doorbell many times.

Wrung – tordre (passé de wring)
She wrung the clothes before drying them out.

/sleɪ/

Slay – tuer
The knight used his sword to slay the enemies.

Sleigh – traîneau
Reindeer guide Santa Claus’ sleigh.

Résumons : homographes, homophones, homonymes en anglais

Ces termes sont souvent confondus et mal utilisés car leurs définitions se recoupent. L’élève attentif(ve) fera attention au sens strict, s’assurant qu’il est compris immédiatement.

Voici un récapitulatif de ce que nous venons de voir.

  • Homographe : même orthographe, prononciation différente, sens différent ;
  • Homophone : orthographe différente, même prononciation, sens différent ;
  • Homonyme : même orthographe ou même prononciation (ou les deux), sens différent.

Pour que ce soit plus clair, voici un résumé sous forme de tableau.


Orthographe

Prononciation

Sens

Homographe

Identique

Différente

Différent

Homophone

Différente

Identique

Différent

Homonyme

Potentiellement identique

Potentiellement identique

Différent

(Nd Pierre : deux mots différents mais possédant le même sens sont bien entendus des synonymes.)

Ressources (en anglais) :

Bonus : un test sur les homonymes

Voici un petit exercice pour finir.

Pour chaque phrase, choisissez le mot le plus adapté :

  1. Your / You’re my best friend.
  2. Please accept / expect the award. 
  3. He went farther / father away. 
  4. Their / there children went to school late. 
  5. Is he coming to / too ?
  6. He carried his slay / sleigh to the top of the hill. 
  7. She ate more then / than usual. 
  8. I believe your / you’re book is on the table.
  9. I liked his incite / insight on the project.
  10. Do you have excess / access to my house?

Donnez-nous vos réponses dans les commentaires !

Francesca

Coucou, Une petite histoire de moi. Je m'appelle Francesca Roho. Je suis passionnée par l'apprentissage des langues française et anglaise. J'adore lire et écrire. J'aime aborder des sujets de société qui me tiennent à cœur, notamment en ce qui concerne le féminisme. J'aime découvrir la ville, la culture et les monuments. Mon roman préféré est La Peste d'Albert Camus.

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