How to use “Close and Shut”

Use

Close /klauz/ and shut can often be used with the same meaning.

  • Open your mouth and close/shut your eyes.
  • I can’t close/shut the window. Can you help me?
  • The shop closes/shuts at five o’clock.

You can shut, but not close, somebody/something in or out of a place.

  • I shut the letters in my desk drawer and locked it. (NOT I closed the letters … )
  • She shut him out of the house.

Past participles

The past participles closed and shut can be used as adjectives.

  • The post office is closed/shut on Saturday afternoon.

Shut is not usually used before a noun.

  • a closed door (NOT a shut door)
  • closed eyes (NOT shut eyes)

Cases where close is preferred

We prefer close for slow movements (like flowers closing at night), and close is more common in a formal style.

  • As we watched, he closed his eyes for the last time.

Compare:

  • Close your mouth, please. (dentist to patient)
  • Shut your mouth! (a rude way of saying ‘Be quiet!’)
  • We close roads, railways etc (channels of communication). And we close (= end) letters, bank accounts, meetings etc.
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