English words with different pronunciations

As regular readers of this blog will know, we’ve recently changed our name from Englishtown to English Live. 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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