Combine vs combine

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The words combine and combine are spelled identically but are pronounced differently and have different meanings, which makes them heteronyms. Heteronyms exist because of our ever-changing English language, and these words with the same spelling and different pronunciation and meaning are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. It can be difficult to learn how to spell different words that look the same and how to use them in sentences, because they are easily confused. The way the pronunciations and definitions differ can be confusing even to native English speakers when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Phonological spelling and spelling rules do not always work, and most people avoid misspelling and misuse by studying vocabulary words from spelling lists, enhancing their literacy skills through spelling practice, and learning words in English by studying a dictionary of the English language. English words are also spelled according to their etymologies rather than their sound. For instance, the word tear meaning a liquid drop that falls from an eye is derived from the Old English word tear, meaning a drop or nectar; tear meaning to pull apart comes from the Old English word tearan, which means to lacerate. Heteronyms are confusing words and are commonly misspelled words because of the confusion that arises from words that are pronounced differently but are spelled the same and come from a different etymology. They are often used in puns and riddles. When reading, it is sometimes difficult to know which word is being used in a sentence and how to pronounce the word phonetically. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check for these commonly confused words but instead, learn to spell. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a heteronym in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Do not confuse heteronyms with homophones, which are two or more words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings like sow and sew; do not confuse them with homonyms, which are words that have the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings like spring as in spring forth and spring as in the season of the year. We will examine the definitions of the words combine and combine, where these words came from, and some examples of their use in sentences.

Combine (cum-BINE) is a verb that means to join things together, to unite or merge, to blend. Related words are combines, combined, combining, combination. The word combine is derived from the Latin word combinare, which means to unite or join together.

Combine (CAHM-bine) is primarily a noun that means a harvesting machine that threshes and cleans grain. Combine may also be used as a verb to mean to operate a harvesting machine that threshes and cleans grain. Related words are combines, combined, combining, combiner. The word combine is shortened from the term combine harvester, a machine invented in the mid-1800s.


“Alcohol and cannabis combine forces when used simultaneously,” meaning you might feel more drunk and stoned than you anticipated. (Boston Magazine)

Saturday was an opportunity for Jefferson City’s locally owned retail stores and restaurants to combine efforts and promote shopping local for the holidays. (The Jefferson City News Tribune)

The tractor test also only enables younger drivers to drive a tractor on the road – they are not able to drive a telehandler or move the combine harvester, as these will exceed the 3.5t weight limit for 17- to 18-year-olds and the 7.5t limit for 18- to 21-year-olds. (Farmers Weekly)

Introduced to the Canadian market last year and available for limited field demonstrations in the United States during the fall 2018 harvest, the Fendt IDEAL combine was officially introduced to American farmers earlier this year at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Ky. (The Lakefield Standard)