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Present vs present

  • Present and present are two words that are spelled identically but are pronounced differently and have different meanings, which makes them heteronyms. These word pairs are often misused words. 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 but are not pronounced 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. Heteronyms are a type of homograph, which is a word that is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning. We will examine the definitions of the words present and present, where these words came from, and a few examples of their use in sentences.


     

    Present (PREZ ent) may be used as an a adjective to mean to be in a particular place, to exist or occur at the current time, to focus on what is currently occurring. Present is also used as a noun to mean the current period of time. The word present may also mean a gift that one gives for a birthday, Christmas, or other holiday or occasion. The plural of present is presents. The word present comes from the Old French word, present, which means within reach.

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    Present (pre ZENT) is a verb that means to give something to someone, to make a formal gift of an award or honor to someone, to submit something for others’ consideration. Related words are presents, presented, presenting, presentation, presenter. The word present is derived from the Old French word presenter, which means to exhibit.

    Examples

    Work on stage happens in the present, at a particular moment: it can’t, any more than life, be rewound or fast-forwarded. (The Guardian)

    “I gave him a present at dinner and a card, and he gave me nothing in return,” she says. (Boston Magazine)

    He asked others in the military to present him with their own ideas and vowed to visit with troops in the field in the coming months to discuss concerns they have about race within the ranks. (Stars and Stripes)

    In the interview, Lisa also said she relishes not having to wake up anymore at dawn to present on television. (The Daily Mail)


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