Wrong Word Wednesday #46

Every week I will demonstrate an example of poor English where a different word is used from the one intended. Sometimes this creates a grammatically incorrect sentence. Unfortunately, the mistake is usually so pervasive that we all do it and such errors are usually made by those who should know better – journalists working for national or global media outlets such as newspapers and television.

Convince / Persuade

If, like me, you did not know the difference then you probably ought to read this. I have been using these words interchangeably for many years and felt slightly embarrassed when I came across the story from The Guardian below. Digging around on this one, it seems there are a number of explanations for how we use the words and what they mean.

The difference is purely in whether the end result is a thought or an action.

Convince: To demonstrate that you have a superior argument… getting them to change their opinion on something.

Persuade: To demonstrate that your idea on how to approach a situation is better than their idea.

Let’s look at England’s terrible run of results in these World Cup Finals. Roy Hodgson gets to keep his job after the team returns him. The FA are convinced that he is the best man for the job, and may have been persuaded not to sack him.

The Guardian has an interesting story on the matter.
Justenglish.me goes into greater detail

4 thoughts on “Wrong Word Wednesday #46

  1. N. E. White

    Wait, I’m not sure I understand. Is that sample sentence using the terms correctly? it seems so based on your definitions (is there a typo in one?).

    1. It’s very subtle I think. As I understand it, I would persuade you to resign (action)…. or I would convince you that it’s not a good idea to stay in your present job (thought / opinion).

      1. There’s barely a hair’s breadth there, isn’t there? It took me a while and some digging around to get it too.

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