Confusing words: near, close
When used in the sense of ‘not far’ or ‘a short distance away’, the adjectives near and close have the same meaning and are interchangeable.
We can say:
- His house is very close. ✓ or
His house is very near. ✓
- Where’s the nearest shop? ✓ or
Where’s the closest shop? ✓
- Which town is nearer? ✓ or
Which town is closer?
Be careful of exceptions (as usual)!
There are some cases when near and close are NOT interchangeable. (You were expecting that, weren’t you?)
Here are some of the most common exceptions that more advanced learners of English would be expected to know:
We use close to talk about people’s relationships with one another:
- They’re a close family
- My dad was closer to his brother than to his sister.
- Mike and I are very close friends.
Close is also used in the following collocations:
- a close encounter
The mountaineer Joe Simpson has had several close encounters with death.
- a close race
After a close race, Obama won the election.
- a close finish
It was a close finish – only a tenth of a second separated the two runners.
- a near miss
The asteroid passed 27,700 km from the surface of Earth – a near miss.
- in the near future
The volcano could erupt in the near future, according to scientists.
- in the near distance
We could see someone in the near distance.
Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below.