Have you ever heard of a heteronym? Perhaps not by name, but we use them all of the time.
Heteronyms are actually words that are spelled identically but have different meanings when pronounced differently. Sometimes the meanings are completely different, whereas other times they have somewhat related meanings.
For example, let’s look at the word “estimate”. Pronounced as EStimit, it is used as a noun, as in, “We need to get an estimate of what the costs will be.” Pronounced as Estimate, it is used as a verb, as in “Let’s estimate the time it will take to build the house.”
Another example is in the word “produce”. Said as “PROduce”, it is a noun meaning fresh fruits and vegetables, as in “Let’s buy some fresh produce at the supermarket.” Pronounced as “pruhDUCE”, it is a verb which means to bring into existence, as in, “The company will produce a new model car next year.”
There are a surprising number of heteronyms in the English language. The following is a good website to help you discover more of these heteronyms, and how to pronounce them.