Mistaken words: efficient and effective

Many English students have difficulties making difference between effective and efficient. In some strange way, they seem to mean the same thing, or at least similar.

Let’s explain them.

Both efficient and effective are adjectives.


The adjective efficient is pronounced (ɪˈfɪʃnt) and it refers to something that does not spend much money, time, energy, etc. Therefore, it is something that performs in the best possible way with very little waste. Its meaning is similar to economic.

For example:

  • Our new dishwasher is very efficient. (it does everything quickly and spends little time, electricity, etc.)
  • London’s subway is the most efficient transport system in the city.
  • Tom hired a very efficient secretary. Not only that she does the job quickly but also with very little waste. Not to mention that she’s very competent.
Mistaken Words: Efficient and Effective
Mistaken Words: Efficient and Effective


The adjective effective is pronounced (ɪfektɪv) and it refers to something successful in achieving goals or getting you the results you want.

For example:

  • This diet is very effective. I lost 5 kilos and I wasn’t a bit hungry. (It helped her in achieving the goal of losing weight)
  • The treatment I got from the doctor was very effective. My back doesn’t hurt anymore.
  • This exercise is highly effective. My English is improving a lot!

Do the quiz to make sure you know the difference between efficient and effective

Mistaken Words: Efficient and Effective

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