Easily Confused Words: Red vs. Read

Red and read are homophones and easily confused words. The spell-check of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up among these three words. As long as it’s a word and it is spelled correctly, spell-check keeps on scanning the document.

Red has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means the first color of the rainbow, meaning it has the shortest wavelength.
  • As an adjective, it describes anything of this color, possessing this color: blood, many bricks, cardinal birds, and bullfighters capes, red is one of the most visible colors for all animals.

Read is a verb. It is spelled the same way in the present (pronounced “reed”) and past tense (pronounced as “red”) for the same idea. To read is to follow words on a printed page or screen, and interpret the meaning of those words. To read aloud to speak the words as they are printed, with pauses for the end of each sentence, and where commas appear. After you read lines of text, you can tell others you’ve read them.

[TRIVIA: Cities named “Reading,” in England and Pennsylvania are pronounced “redding.”]

The following sentence uses both words correctly:

The fact that some people make it to high school without learning to read has many educators seeing red. 



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