Archive for April 25, 2011

the difference between words: electric and electronic


The other day, one of my students asked me the difference between “electric” and “electronic”. I thought it was a very good question, so I’d like to share that with my readers today.

We use the adjective “electric” to talk about things which can be operated with electricity. Such things include lamps, toasters, radios, etc. However, we use the adjective “electronic” to talk about more complicated machines which have some kind of computer device operating inside them. Such machines include cell phones, video games, computers, iPods, etc. For example:

Our electric bill was very high last month, so please don’t use so much electricity this month.

This radio is electric, but it can also be run with batteries.

I went to an electronics store yesterday to buy a new computer.

My mother doesn’t feel comfortable using electronic devices. She doesn’t even have a cell phone.

Please note that the word “electricity” is the noun form of “electric”.

Also, the word “electronics”, with an S, is used to talk about machines in general which are electronic. Therefore, we can either say “electronic devices” or “electronics”. In the third example, I wrote “electronics store” with an S because it’s a store which sells electronics. If I wrote “electronic store”, it would mean the store itself is electronic, which is totally wrong.

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