Archive for July 11, 2011

the difference between words: quiet and silent

The other day I had to correct one of my students over the meaning of the words “quiet” and “silent”, so that’s what I’d like to write about today.

The word “quiet” means for there to be very little noise or for someone to not talk very much, but the word “silent” means for there to be no sound at all or for someone to not speak at all. For example:

It’s very quiet and peaceful at my summer house near the lake. I like to spend my weekends there in July and August.

A: Do you hear much noise from the traffic in your apartment?

B: No, I’m not on a main road, so it’s actually pretty quiet.

I’m trying to study. Could you please be quiet?

My cousin Beth is a very quiet woman, but she talks a little more when she gets to know someone.

I went out to the lake last night, and it was completely silent. There wasn’t even the sound of a bird.

When the singer collapsed on stage, everyone in the audience was shocked and became silent.

The word “quiet” is more commonly used than “silent” because it’s rare that we hear no sound at all. Also, when we use the word “silent” about a person, it must be used to talk about a specific situation, but we use “quiet” to describe a person’s personality in general.

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