The four letters read can surprise someone who is scanning a written page. They are both inflections of the verb 'to read', meaning 'to decode written characters'. Although they look identical, they are pronounced differently.
- The base form of the verb, and the present tense, rhymes with 'feed' and 'seed', IPA: /riːd/. See also read (irregular verb).
- The past tense and -ed participle rhyme with 'dead' and 'bed', and indeed the colour red, IPA: /rɛd/.
For a homophone that may mislead your hearing, see Read - reed. There is also the homographic pair 'Reading' and 'reading', where the first vowel sound varies. The name of the town in Berkshire, like the university that is there, is pronounced with the first syllable rhyming with 'head' and 'dead' (/'rɛ dɪŋ/); the -ing participle of the verb, as in "I am reading", has a first syllable like 'to read', rhyming with 'feeding' and 'needing' (/'riː dɪŋ/).