English words with different pronunciations

The word ‘live’ is an interesting one, because it can be pronounced in different ways with different meanings. You might go to watch a ‘live’ /laɪv/ (adj.) concert. That means the musicians are actually there and performing for you. The other way to use this words is as a verb, for example, to ‘live’ /lɪv/ (verb) your life to the fullest.

There are some other English words that sound different depending on whether they are in the verb or adjective form. For example, you might ‘close’ /kləʊz/ (verb) a door but sit ‘close’ /kləʊs/  (adjective/adverb) to the window.

Other English words vary their pronunciation depending on whether they are a verb or a noun. So, after performing in a concert, you would ‘bow’ /baʊ/ (verb) when the audience applauds but when someone gives you a gift, it might be wrapped up and tied with a ribbon with a ‘bow’ /boʊ/ (noun) in it.

There are some words that work in similar ways, too. For example, you might ‘use’ /juːz/ (verb) chopsticks to eat in some countries but their ‘use’ /juːs/ (noun) might be uncommon in others. Likewise, you might ‘excuse’ /ɪkˈskjuːz/ (verb) a friend for being late, but only if they have a good ‘excuse’ /ɪkˈskjuːs/ (noun).

If you work hard school or university, you will ‘graduate’ /ˈɡrædʒ.u.eɪt/ (verb), which will make you a ‘graduate’ /ˈɡrædʒ.u.ət/ (noun).

One simple way to make sure you are clear on the differences in the way these words sound is to write a few paragraphs of text using all of them and practise saying it aloud. Give it a go and see if you can master these English words with different pronunciations.

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