How do you know when to use close or close?

Do you know the difference between tear and tear?

Don’t worry if you don’t know the difference.

Native English speakers struggle with these words too.

In today’s episode, Lindsay and Aubrey share with you different homographs and how to know the difference between each.

Read Versus Read

Lindsay and Aubrey are excited about the summer.

Aubrey mentions that during the summer, people often take the time to start reading a book.

Aubrey then asks Lindsay if she has read any good books lately.

Lindsay says she started reading a book by someone they interviewed recently in All Ears English.

Dr. Jon Finn was on the show and the book is called “The Habit Mechanic.”

The book talks about neuroscience, habit loops, and doing the right things in life to be happy and successful.

The reason Aubrey asked Lindsay about books was that in today’s episode, they will be talking about Homographs.

The word read in the past tense, and the word read, the act of reading a book, are both spelled the same but mean different things.

Homographs are words that are spelled the same but not necessarily pronounced the same and have different meanings and origins.

Homographs can be confusing at times, especially when you consider pronunciation.

Aubrey shared an instance where her students mispronounced the word objection and said it like the word object, the noun.

She tried to clarify how you pronouncing a word can change its meaning.

It can happen to anyone. Even native English speakers can have that mistake.

Confusing Homographs

Lindsay and Aubrey share with you different homographs that are commonly confused with each other.

  • Close (verb) and Close (adjective)

The word close used as a verb is pronounced with a “z” sound and means the opposite of open. The word close as an adjective means you are near or it can also mean the feeling you have towards someone you care about. They are spelled the same but used differently.


Verb: Can you please close the door?

Adjective: He’s a close talker. / I feel close to her.


Scenario: Lindsay and Aubrey work together and they are talking about their sales team.

Aubrey: Were you able to close that deal you were telling me about?

Lindsay: Not yet, but we are so close.

  • Lead (noun) and Lead (verb)

Lead the noun is a chemical element and its symbol is Pb. This chemical has been very familiar to a lot of people around the world because it is toxic and very harmful. There are a lot of instances where people have been exposed to Lead and get rashes or get poisoned. The verb lead means to cause someone to move forward as you guide them. The example below for this word is a very common expression that means you can provide all the resources to someone but you can’t make them


Noun: My pencil is made of Lead.

Verb: You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.


Scenario: Lindsay and Aubrey are in a car and Lindsay is driving.

Aubrey: You really have a lead foot today.

Lindsay: Oh yes, sorry! I like to be in the lead when I’m driving.

  • Tear (noun) and Tear (verb)

Tear the noun means the tear from your eyes when you cry. The word tear the verb is to rip something apart like paper or fabric. This can really be tricky to use so Lindsay advises to always check the context of a sentence so you know how to use the word tear.


Noun: I can see a tear running down your cheek.

Verb: Did you tear the paper?


Scenario: Lindsay and Aubrey are talking about a sports injury.

Aubrey: I hear you have some kind of muscle tear.

Lindsay: Oh yes. I tore my hamstring

Aubrey: Sorry to hear that. It sounds miserable.

Lindsay: It really hurt. I definitely shed a tear or two.

  • Minute (noun) and Minute (adjective)

Minute as a noun is a measure of time and the word minute as an adjective means something really small or unimportant.


Noun: I need a minute.

Adjective: I don’t worry about the minute details.


Scenario: Lindsay and Aubrey are getting ready to go somewhere

Lindsay: Are you ready to go?

Aubrey: I need a minute or two to get ready.

Lindsay: You look great! Stop worrying about the minute details.


Homographs can be very confusing. Even native English speakers mix up these words.

With Lindsay and Aubrey sharing several common homographs, this can help you get started in learning how to distinguish between them.

The key is to always pay attention to the context.

This can be a potential roadblock if you can not differentiate these words from each other.

If you are an intermediate-level English speaker, this can be a good way for you to benchmark how good your skills already are.

If you can nail homographs, this will give you the confidence to speak like a native English speaker.

Lindsay advises you to not put this opportunity aside.

You can go back and replay this episode and take some notes.

Don’t worry if you make mistakes along the way.

Just as the All Ears English saying goes, “Connection Not Perfection.”

Make the effort to get them right but don’t stress to be perfect with these because even the native English speakers get confused with these words.

What are the other homographs that you know about and often get confused with?

Let us know in the comments below and we’ll do our best to help you differentiate them.

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