Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. In this lesson, I'm going to talk about three verbs. I'm going to talk about the difference between answer, reply, and respond. Let's get started.
Okay. First, let's take a look at the verb "answer, to answer." The meaning of the verb "to answer" is, one, to react to a question, a simple question. "What time is it? What's your name? How are you?" Those are simple questions. When we react to that, like, "Twelve o'clock. Alisha. I'm good." Those are all answers and we can say, "I answered the question in response." We can use it in that way, but we can also use it when we're taking tests, tests or examinations. When we include or we choose an answer as a noun, when we choose something on the test and we mark that, that's called answering a question on a test. We use "answer" for verbal questions and written questions, but we also use it for test questions, too. This is good to keep in mind. When you're answering something, you're answering some questions or there's some questions, some inquiry that you're reacting to so. There's something that's like a question being posed. That's a good thing to keep in mind for this verb.
Also, we use "answer" for these two cases. When we pick up the phone -- there's an incoming phone call. Your phone is ringing. When you pick up the phone, we use the verb "answer" to describe that. We say, "To answer the phone. Please answer your phone." We also use it when guests come to our homes, or to our offices, or to other locations. When the guest arrives at the door, or at the reception, or there's some kind of door area where you need to receive your guests, we use the verb "answer" to refer to opening the door and greeting the guests. If someone knocks on the door to announce they have arrived at your home, you go to the door, open it, and we say that's called answering the door. "Please answer the door. Our guests are here." To answer the door is to open the door when guests arrive. To answer your phone is to pick up the phone when your phone rings.
These are a couple other ways that we use the verb "answer." Let's look at some examples now, too. All right, first one, "Please answer the questions." We could use this for a test. We could use this in like a discussion as well. "Please answer the questions." This is a very simple base way to use, a basic way to use "answer." Here for a test, "Answer all questions within 30 minutes." Here's a command. "Answer all questions within 30 minutes," on a test, probably. Here's a negative example. "He didn't answer." In this case, "He didn't answer his phone." If you call someone and the other person does not pick up the phone, they don't answer their phone, this is how you can explain that. "He didn't answer." And we remove this part. "He didn't answer," because from the situation, it's quite clear. "He didn't answer his phone." We know it's his phone because you were on the phone. "He didn't answer." We can use it in this way.
Okay. Now, that's "answer." Let's take a look at "reply" next, "reply." "Reply" is used to mean to react to a statement or a question. Someone says something, someone poses a question, asks a question. To react to that, we can use the verb "reply," or rather, we can use "reply" to refer to our reaction to that thing. We'll see in just a moment. "Reply" is not as formal as "respond." Actually, from these verbs, when I'm emailing, I tend to use "reply" in my emails a lot more. "Thank you very much for your reply," for example. That's used as a noun, but you can use it as a verb like, "Please reply at your earliest convenience," for example. You could use that to the emails. That's what I tend to use.
Anyway, some examples of using "reply" here, first, "She replies to emails really quickly." Meaning, she reacts to people's emails really quickly, and she therefore, returns the statement. She gives something back. She replies. Another example, "He never replied to my message." This is past tense. I sent a message to someone. I did not receive a reaction. I can say, "He never replied to my message." Here's another one. We also used this in writing, like in novels and books, to describe someone's reaction. A question, "What time is it?" "Twelve o'clock, he replied." You'll see this in books. Lots of storytelling uses "reply" as well. "Reply" and "response" or "respond" as a verb in more formal situations, but "reply" is kind of like a basic sort of neutral level reaction to something. I tend to use "reply" as a noun and as a verb a lot in my email writing.
Okay. Let's move along to "respond" then. "Respond" also, like "reply," it means to react to a statement or a question. These two have that same meaning. However, "respond" sounds a bit more formal than "reply." If you use "respond" in like a text message to your friend like, "Please respond to my message," or, "Please respond by tomorrow." It might sound too formal. "Reply" is probably better when you're texting your friends like, "Please reply to the invitation by tomorrow." Sounds much more natural. "Respond" would be good at work when you're using like work email for something or when you're on the phone as well. Using this is much better for business situations. Also, "respond" has an additional meaning that's not related exactly to communication. "Respond" can also mean to have a good reaction to something. I'll share some examples of this, but this is not the focus meaning for this lesson, but I'll introduce some examples.
Okay. Let's look at examples of this part. First, "I need to respond to that email." Maybe you're telling your boss, "I need to respond to that email from the client." It sounds a little more formal. It sounds a little more important. Another one, a question, "Have you responded to those inquiries yet?" You receive like client inquiries or customer enquiries. An inquiry is a question. "Have you responded to those enquiries yet?" Another one, a negative, "They're not going to respond." You're making a guess, probably a strong guess. "The other party or maybe the client, the customer is not going to respond. They're not going to react to something."
Okay. As I mentioned, "respond" does have this other meaning of reacting favorably, reacting well to something. We use them for like public reactions to things. We can use them a lot for medicine, like treatments and so on. Here's one. "She responded well to treatment." This doesn't mean she said something or she wrote something. It means she received some treatment. She's sick. She received some treatment, some medicine of some kind, and her body was happy about the treatment. There was a good response. Her body responded well. There was a good reaction in her body. That's what this means.
Here, second example sentence, "I think the public will respond well to this policy." This is a prediction. The speaker is making a guess. They have this new policy. The speaker thinks the public, the general people out there in that society will respond well. In other words, they will have a good reaction to this new policy. This use of response is a little different from kind of reacting to a statement or reacting to a question. It's actually having a good reaction to something. Slightly different, and you might see this in the news a lot, too. Keep an eye out for that.
Okay. This is a basic introduction to the differences between "answer, reply, and respond." I hope it was helpful for you. Of course, if you have any questions or comments or if you want to try to make an example sentence, please feel free in the comment section of this video. Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again next time. Bye-bye.


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EnglishClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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EnglishClass101.com Verified
Friday at 08:18 PM
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Hello there Jaime,

Thanks for your question. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

'Thru' has been misspelt in both of these sentences. You do often see this spelling but it usually in text messaging and is extremely casual.

The correct way to write/ say these sentences would be:

"Through the modules you must respond to some questions" or "Through the modules you must answer some questions."

Hope this helps! In case of any further questions, please feel free to contact us.



Team EnglishClass101.com

Jaime Arriola
Thursday at 07:57 PM
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As far as I understand, both of this sentences are ok:

Thru the modules you must respond some questions

Thru the modules you must answer some questions

Please let me know if this is ok.


EnglishClass101.com Verified
Thursday at 09:15 AM
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Hello Medi,

Thank you for your question.

You can use 'respond' for negative reactions. For example, "The student had a sad response to their mark on their assignment."

I hope this is helpful to you.



Team EnglishClass101.com

Sunday at 09:00 PM
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could we use "respond" for negative reactions? for instance the firm responded her recommendations about the web site poorly.

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 05:53 PM
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Hello Alex,

Thanks for the question. You are correct, the word 'answer' means to give the solution to a problem/question. A 'reply' is to react to a statement or a question. Both are sometimes interchangeable in their uses. 'Reply' usually refers to conversations, you wouldn't use it referring to the answer you write down in an exam, you would use 'answer.'

A 'response' or 'to respond' is similar to 'reply' - it is used to refer to conversations.

I hope this is helpful to you.



Team EnglishClass101.com

Friday at 01:27 AM
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Answer - to give the solution to a problem

Reply - to react to a statement or a question.

So, 'reply' doesn't give the SOLUTION to a problem? Is this the main difference between 'reply' and "answer"?

Respond - to react to a statement or a question.

What about this verb? Does it give the solution to a problem?