Difference Between Use and Utilize

Difference Between Use and Utilize

English is a funny language, and people who know it in depth will agree to this fact. Sometimes, it is almost impossible to believe that what you’ve been using as a synonym for a specific word, isn’t actually its synonym at all. For instance, what is the difference between use and utilize? Don’t they sound like synonyms to you? There is a major difference between use and utilize, as well as a different purpose altogether. Later in the article, we will learn, with examples, about the major difference between utilize and use.

Very often we use sentences such as, “You can use my pencil to write the letter” or “We need to utilize the time that we have, so that we can win the puzzle”, and these sentences seem to tell us to generally use something, but this isn’t the case.

Definition of Use

Let’s consider the example above where we wrote the sentence, “You can use my pencil to write the letter”. Let’s see what happens when we insert the so-called synonym instead of ‘use’ in this sentence.

It becomes, “You can UTILIZE my pencil to write the letter”.

Doesn’t that seem a bit unusual? We can certainly use a pencil to write something because that is what it is meant for, but we cannot utilize it to write something because that isn’t something new that we will be doing with the pencil. Use is something for which we already use the pencil for.

The definition of use is that it refers to something that already serves a general purpose.

Definition of Utilize

The other sentence that we used as an example was “We need to utilize the time that we have so that we can win the puzzle”. We did the same exercise by replacing the word ‘utilize’ with ‘use’.

It becomes, “We need to use the time that we have so that we can win the puzzle”.

The modified sentence does not have as much weight as it had with the word ‘utilize’. The sentence with the word utilize is to make use of the time in the best way possible by doing something innovative, in order to win the quiz.

The definition of utilize is that it refers to a new way of using anything, in a more practical manner.

Use vs Utilize Comparison Table

Basis of ComparisonUseUtilize
DefinitionRelates to an existing way of using somethingRelates to a new way of using something
ExampleTim should use the B1 pencil for the best sketchesThe criminal utilized the pencil as a weapon
WeightageDoes not carry much weight when used in a sentenceThe weight is more important when used in a sentence
ImpactHas a neutral impactHas a positive impact

Conclusion of the Main Difference Between Use vs Utilize

Very few people are aware that there is a big difference between the words use and utilize.

Between use vs utilize, we tend to use the word ‘use’ more. This is because we talk mostly about general things; however, we need to make sure that we make proper use of the word utilize when we introduce something new that has a positive impact.