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How should I pronounce "live" when I mean, for example, "live broadcasting" or "live music"? Is it "laiv" or "liv"?

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  • The musician Lyle Lovett once joked at a concert I attended that his new album "Live in Texas" -- which was of course a recording of live concerts in Texas -- was intended to be pronounced "liv", because he wanted to tell everyone that they should live in Texas. Sep 11 '15 at 13:41
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Here is my rule of thumb:

live is only pronounced /lɪv/ (or your "liv") when it's a verb.
In all other cases it's /laɪv/ (or your "laiv").

You can remember this sentence, which rhymes: Live music makes me feel alive!


PS. A careful reader may prefer to use another, but similar, rule of thumb: The adjective and adverb live are pronounced one way /laɪv/, and everything else is pronounced the other /lɪv/. This alternative rule of thumb seems to work better with other words stemming from live, whereas my rule of thumb is only for the word live alone. (Note that the word live can be a verb, an adjective, or an adverb.)

Here is a list of common words related to live:
a) with /lɪv/: live (the verb, including all phrasal verbs such live by, live for, etc.), lives (the verb, in the present, used with he/she/it), lived (the past and the past participle forms), living (both the verb, the active participle, and the adjective), livable, liver
b) with /laɪv/ (or /laɪf/): life, lives (the plural of life), live (the adj. and the adv., including phrases such as go-live), alive

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  • Your rule of thumb was added to my knowledge. +1 :) Awaiting other comments.
    – shin
    Sep 11 '15 at 6:14
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    I heart you, @Damkerng. You are as ever an excellent resource for learners, because you have an intuition for language-learning and can express things from a non-native speaker's point of view to give tips and tricks native speakers would never think of. I love reading your answers :). Thank you! <3
    – WendiKidd
    Sep 11 '15 at 6:55
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    Note that liver is pronounced /ˈlaɪvə/ in one etymologically unrelated case. Sep 11 '15 at 15:20
  • The rule of thumb works I suppose, but how do you know whether it is a verb or an adjective in the OP's phrase? I believe that that is ultimately the question posed.
    – Octopus
    Sep 11 '15 at 19:40
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    @Octopus That's a good point, and a very important one. (It could deserve a long post or a chapter or even a course!) But let me share this little secret I know with you, and I assume that you're a native speaker; this little secret is that an English language learner at or above an intermediate level usually knows how to spot the verb in a sentence (which is why I chose to write the rule of thumb as "verb" vs. "non-verb"). Otherwise, we can't even read or understand English sentences, at all! This really is a very crucial step for learners, and IMHO, the OP clearly knows how to spot verbs. Sep 11 '15 at 20:05
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The former ('laiv') is the proper pronunciation. The latter is used in the essence of existence (living and dying) and when one provides the place where one lives (I live at 777 Pragmatic Street...)

For additional information, the two words are homographs.

". . .two words that are spelled the same but have different meanings and are pronounced differently. . ."

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Your confusion is because of the same spelling with two different pronunciations.

Okay; here, it's 'laaiv'.

In most of the online dictionaries, there is an option to hear the pronunciation of the word mentioned. You need to click on the 'speaker' icon. Alternatively, the pronunciation is written as well.

The word is:

live - laɪv (click on the 'speaker' icon to hear it).


The word that you are confused with is

live - lɪv (click on the 'speaker' icon to hear it).

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As Maulik told it's 'liv', and it really depend on context. In your case, it is slang definitions like on dictionary : live adjective

  • Not recorded or taped : live music/ a live telecast (1934+)
  • Of current importance; still to be decided : Is metrication really a live issue today? (1900+)

You can see more than 50 efinition on Dictionary.net - http://www.dictionary.net/live Or you can hear pronouncation on Dictionary.com - watch on live2 - http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/live?s=t

  1. If live is a verb (Live long and prosper, or I live in New York City), the i is pronounced the same as the i in "this". This pronunciation is used for all tenses of the verb, and also for the participles lived and living.
  2. If live is an adjective (The band played for a live audience, or Live from New York City), the i is pronounced the same as the i in five. Alive also has this pronunciation.

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