the difference between words: fired and laid off

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Many of my students are confused about the meaning of being “fired” and being “laid off”, so I would like to explain the difference today. In both cases, a person loses their job, but when we say they were “fired”, it means they probably made a big mistake and their boss was angry. When we say they were “laid off”, it means that the company didn’t have enough money to pay their salary. For example:

My co-worker was fired yesterday because she was always arriving late for work.

My boss was really angry at me for forgetting to bring the documents to the meeting. I think I’m going to be fired!

Several people at our company were laid off last year because of the recession.

I was laid off when my company merged with ABC Company. They said they didn’t need so many workers after that.

So, being “fired” is very negative because it’s usually the person’s own fault, but being “laid off” is not as negative because it’s not the person’s fault.

Please note that all of the examples above are in the passive voice. Here are some examples of active voice:

The boss fired my co-worker yesterday because she was always arriving late for work.

I think my boss is going to fire me!

My company laid off several people last year because of the recession.

My company laid me off after they merged with ABC Company.

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2 Comments »

  1. praiffs Said:

    Is ‘laid off’ a first form? What is the second form of ‘laid off’ ?

    • Hi.

      The term “laid off” is the passive voice, so we say, “I was laid off”. The active voice or main verb form is “lay off”. For example:

      My company will lay off many employees soon.

      I hope that answers your question.

      Mike


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