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Joey Black
Is there any subtle difference between 'close' and 'near' when talking about distance? Are the phrases below equal or there is a subtle difference? Example 1. Mars is close now and looks bigger. -- Can I say "Mars is near now"? Example 2. The enemy is near now. -- Can I say "The enemy is close now"?
Sep 7, 2018 4:23 PM
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Answers · 12
This is obviously somewhat subjective, and I'd say that all four examples you list are correct and, most importantly, would be understood. The only one I think I generally wouldn't use is "Mars is near" in the context you've given. For me, "near" gives the impression that something is approaching and will arrive at the speaker's location, or at least that it can be reached from the speaker's location. In the sense that you're viewing Mars from Earth and it will never arrive at your location, this sounds a little strange in my mind. However, if I were in a space ship and Mars was approaching to within a short distance, I would say something like "Mars is near" or "We are near Mars". "The enemy is close" and "The enemy is near" both sound the same to me, probably because the enemy will eventually arrive at your location.
September 7, 2018
To my mind there is an implication of movement towards in ‘the enemy is near’ that isn’t there in ‘the enemy is close’. The enemy is close and may be dug in and waiting, but if they are ‘near’ then they are moving on our position. That’s how it reads to me. Similarly ‘Mars is close’, but not moving closer, whereas ‘Mars is near’ carries the implication that Mars is travelling towards earth and is now nearly here.
September 7, 2018
There may be a difference but so subtle that it is almost unrecognizable. In the adjective form, close, closer, the closest, and near, nearer, the nearest, mean the same thing. Be careful when you turn them into adverbs. Then closely means very close but nearly means almost.
September 7, 2018
They are interchangeable except when referring to time (at times) . near = only a short time ahead. "the conflict is unlikely to be resolved in the near future" if you change near to close in this sentence it will sound completely wrong to a native, the winter is drawing near" (you can say say close for this sentence, but near is how a native would be inclined to naturally say it) "Christmas is nearly upon us" (not closely upon us) "Spring is close at hand" "spring is near at hand' near at hand doesn't sound correct to a native. "Spring is nearly here" "spring is drawing close" you can interchange them for most occasions, but sometimes one is preferred over the other. you have to listen to natives and decide what you prefer or hear most often.
September 7, 2018
Part two You use "close to" for describing an emotional attachment between two people. "Donald Trump and Putin are close" = they adore, love or are emotionally linked to each other. But this would need to be read in context, it could mean physical nearby or it could be a double meaning. Or even actually to mean they are emotionally connected. "Donald Trump and Teresa May are near" = They are coming, they are on their way to you, or the event, or are close by in physical distance.
September 7, 2018
Joey Black
Language Skills
English, Russian
Learning Language
English