Live a Life

Here comes another chaotic pair of words that has got many of my international students confused again and again. Is it “live” or “life“?. Spelling them is confusing enough, saying them and using them correctly in written English is even more confusing.

  • live (v.) = to have life (opposite of  die), to have a home / reside
  • live* (adj.) = as it happens
  • life** (n.) = the period of existence between the time a living organism is born till the time they die

*Live” is pronounced as [laiv] when it means “as it happens“. It should not be pronounced as [liv]. Often, the word is written in quotation marks to show the difference in pronunciation. (e.g.: “live” telecast, instead of live telecast)

** The plural form is “lives“, pronounced as [laivs].


  1. My dog lived for 13 years with us before he died of illness.
  2. Isham lives [livs] in a beautiful and peaceful country, and he’ll be there for the rest of his life.
  3. We should treasure our lives [laivs] and live [liv] to the fullest.
  4. There will be a “live” [laiv] performance by a rock group at the State Square tonight. (= watch it as it happens; it’s not a recorded telecast)
  5. Life is full of experiences; some are good and some are bad.

So, as you can see, “life” and “live” are very simple words, yet people pronounce them wrongly; their meanings are different, yet  some of us use them interchangeably.  Whether it’s [laivs] or [livs] depends on the context of the sentence.

By the way, HAPPY NEW YEAR! The new year brings new life to all. May you live a life of bountiful happiness with the ones you love.

Have fun living with the complexity of the English language 😀


Posted on January 7, 2010, in Word Power and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Happy New Year to you!! 🙂 Live your life to the fullest. Life is short, you never know what is going to happen the next second. 🙂

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