Shawnie, a member of our excellent Palo Alto Software Customer Care Team, emailed me this list of homographs (words that are spelled the same, but have different meanings and different pronunciations). She thought I might enjoy them, and I certainly do.

We polish the Polish furniture.
He could lead if he would get the lead out.
A farm can produce produce.
The landfill was so full it had to refuse refuse.
The soldier decided to desert in the desert.
There’s no time like the present to present the present.
At the fishing resort, a bass was painted on the head of a bass drum.
The dove dove into the bushes.
I did not object to the object.
The parking permit for the invalid was invalid.
The bandage was wound around the wound.
There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
They were not close enough to the door to close it.
The buck does funny things when the does are present.
They sent a sewer down to stitch the tear in the sewer line.
To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number.
I shed a tear when I saw the tear in my clothes.
I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.

I hope you got a chuckle and a smile from them. But beware! If you run this list through a spell check program you will get an error in several sentences. Where the homographs appear next to one another the spell checker sees these as unnecessary duplicate words.

Be cognizant of your audience as well. If English is not the birth language of your readers, the use of homographs, homophones or homonyms can easily introduce unwanted confusion in your business operations, negotiations, instruction manuals, etc.

Just for fun, see if you can replace one of the homographic words in each sentence with a synonym, and in doing so, keep the sentence meaning the same.

Steve Lange
Senior Editor
Palo Alto Software