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Today we answer a question from Mehdi.


What is the difference between close and near?


Dear Mehdi,

Thank you for writing. You ask a good question.

“Close” and “near” are commonly used as adjectives. When you are talking about physical distances, you can use either word. Like this:

The subway station is close.

The subway station is near.

Both these sentences are correct and mean the same thing.

But if you are talking about something that deals with abstract ideas or qualities, like relationships, you use “close” instead of “near.”

As in this example:

My friend and I live in different countries, but we are very close.

Here, I am saying that my friend and I are not in the same physical area, but we are emotionally connected. We are good friends.

However, if I say, “My neighbor and I live in the same apartment building, but we are not close,” I mean we occupy the same physical area, but we are not emotionally connected. My dog tried to bite his dog once, and he has never spoken to me again!

Thanks for writing, Mehdi. Reading comments from our listeners is the best part of the job – it makes us feel close to our audience.

For now, that’s Ask a Teacher!

I’m Anne Ball.

Anne Ball wrote this story for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

Do you have a question for the teacher? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.


Words in This Story

abstract – adj. relating to or involving general ideas or qualities rather than specific people, objects, or actions