Read vs. Read – What’s the Difference?

Irregular verbs can be tricky, and read is one of the trickiest of all.

In some conjugations, the spelling does not change at all between past, present, and future—you have to rely on context to decide when the reading actually happened.

Sometimes, though, the pronunciation changes even though the spelling remains the same—read can rhyme with both bed and seed, depending on conjugation.

What is the Difference Between Read and Read?

In this article, I will compare both pronunciations of this word: read vs. read. I will use each version in at least one example sentence, so you can see how to use it in context.

Plus, I will show you a memory tool that you can use as a reminder of when read or read is more appropriate.

When to Use Read (Rhymes with Seed)

read versus redWhat does read mean? Read, pronounced so that it rhymes with seed, is usually a verb. It means to interpret letters and words and determine their meaning.

A person can read a book, for example, or words on a screen, or a sign.

Here are some examples,

  • “Class, please read The Little Dog Laughed to each other in partners,” said the elementary teacher.
  • I like reading with my older brother and sister, but they read quickly and sometimes I can’t keep up.
  • Learning to read can have profound effects on the wiring of the adult brain, even in regions that aren’t usually associated with reading and writing. –The Washington Post

Read can also be a noun, where it usually describes a book that is enjoyable to read, as in the phrase a good read.

Read has a homophone, too: reed, which describes either a type of plant or part of the mouthpiece of some wind instruments.

For example,

  • Moses’s mother hid him in the reeds because he would not stop crying.

When to Use Read (Rhymes with Bed)

definition of read definition of red definitionWhat does read (rhymed with bed) mean? Read is also a verb. When it is pronounced so that it rhymes with bed, it becomes the simple past tense form of the verb read.

  • Excerpts from the Garden-stamped security testimony, none of which is attributed by name, were first read on Mike Francesa’s WFAN radio show. –New York Post

If you read a book yesterday, the word rhymes with bed, but if you will read it tomorrow, it rhymes with seed.

For example,

  • I read (rhymes with bed) your posts on social media yesterday, and I didn’t feel any need to respond.
  • Jim will read (rhymes with seed) To Kill a Mockingbird for a fourth-grade book report.

The past tense read also has a homophone: red. Red is a primary color, along with blue and yellow.

Here is an example,

  • Emiliya bought a bright red Dodge Charger and wrecked it almost immediately.

When to Pronounce Read Each Way

define read define reed  If you are using read as a noun, pronounce it so that it rhymes with seed.

Otherwise, if the verb is past tense, rhyme read with bed. For present and future tenses, rhyme read with seed.

Since read and said are two past tense verbs that rhyme, you should be able to remember that read rhymes with said in the past tense.


Is it read or read? Read is a verb that means to interpret writing on a page.

  • Read rhymes with bed in the past tense.
  • Read rhymes with reed in the present and future changes.
  • It can also be a noun, where it rhymes with reed.