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ESL Help: Learning Antonyms, Synonyms and More

written by: Sonal Panse • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 1/5/2012

Learning English grammar is a necessary part of learning to speak and write English. Grammar explains the rules of language usage and can make life easier for new learners. Here we will take a look at some grammatical terms known as antonyms, synonyms, homonyms and acronyms.

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    The word antonym comes from two Greek words, "anti", which means opposing or against, and "onoma", which means name. So antonym means an opposing name.

    An antonym is a word that has the opposite meaning to another word. Antonyms can be differentiated from the words they are opposite to by a prefix, or they may be totally different words. All words do not have antonyms. Some words that do not have antonyms are orange, twelve and table.

    Here are some examples of antonyms -

    • ancient - modern
    • qualify - disqualify
    • justice - injustice
    • past - present

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    The word synonym comes from two Greek words, "syn", which means the same or together, and "onoma", which means name. So synonym stands for the same name.

    A synonym is a word that has the same or almost the same meaning as another word.

    A word can have one synonym or several synonyms.

    Here are some examples of synonyms -

    • anguish - distress, sorrow
    • genuine - actual, real
    • goad - provoke, badger
    • pain - ache, discomfort
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    The word homonym comes from two Greek words, "homos", which means the same, and "onoma", which means name. So homonym means the same name.

    Homonyms are of two types, homophones and homographs.

    Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation, but have different spellings or meanings or both. For example:

    • beet - beat,
    • meat - meet
    • deer - dear
    • sea - see

    Homographs are words that have the same spellings, can have the same pronunciation or a different pronunciation, but have different meanings. For example:

    • row ( to row a boat) - row (to fight)
    • rail (as in railway) - rail (as in yell in anger)
    • sow (to plant) - sow (female pig)
    • band (as in a hair-band) - band (as in a music group)

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    The word acronym comes from two Greek words, "akros", which means an end or a tip, and "onoma", which means name.

    An acronym is a word that is an abbreviation of a group of words, generally made up of the initial letters of these words. An acronym may be written in capital letters or in lowercase letters.

    Some examples of acronyms are -

    • Scuba - Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus
    • UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
    • SARS - severe acute respiratory syndrome
    • ARM - Adjustable Rate Mortgage

    You can download a list of antonyms, synonyms, homonyms and acronyms here -