Convince or persuade?
Understand that some experts say that “persuade” and “convince” are synonyms that go back at least to the sixteenth century. The meanings are so closely knit that often one word serves as well as the other.
After ‘persuade’ we use the structure
to + infinitive:
- I persuaded them to stay for another drink.
- He persuaded her not to take the job.
After ‘convince’ we cannot use a verb infinitive. We say ‘convince someone that‘:
- She convinced the police that she was telling the truth.
- He convinced her that it was the right thing to do.
Both of the above sentence would also be correct without ‘that’:
- She convinced the police she was telling the truth.
- He convinced herit was the right thing to do.
Although Robert finally persuaded his girlfriend to move abroad with him, she was not fully convinced that it was the best thing to do.
In the example, Robert’s girlfriend was persuaded (to move) but was not convinced (that it was the correct decision). So, we can see that when we persuade someone to do something it doesn’t always mean that we have also convinced that person.
The teenager is convinced she can win. The boy was persuaded to run the 10-yard dash.
One more thing is worth mentioning about ‘persuade’ and ‘convince’. If we are absolutely sure about something, we say I’m convinced:
– Are you sure he’s innocent?
– Yes, I’m convinced. NOT
Some related words:
convincing (adjective) It was a convincing argument.
persuasive (adjective) Marta can be very persuasive when she wants.
persuasion (noun) He used his powers of persuasion.
When confronted with issues of word choice, I often find it helpful to consider the associations and connotations a word has in its different forms. A convincing person or argument is one that other people cannot help but agree with, whereas a persuasive person or argument is one that other people find compelling, but which leaves more room (in my mind) for the opportunity to disagree.
If you have been convinced, you have clearly and decisively changed your perspective. If you have been persuaded, then you have chosen to agree with those you previously disagreed with. In the latter case, it may not be so much that you’ve found an argument you agree with so much as you’re indulging someone who has appealed to you, either positively or negatively.
Prefer “convince” when the change of opinion must be definite or to deemphasize the role of whomever did the convincing. Prefer “persuade” to draw attention to either the arguments used or the individuals doing the arguing, to emphasize reluctance on the part of the persuaded, or when you need the word to contain more vowels.
Empower your writing
Stop using the dangling participle and misplaced modifiers
Both can seriously change the flow and meaning of your writing. It is important to make sure we qualify the intended words and not just any words in the sentence.
A participle is a verb that acts like an adjective and ends in –ing, such as swimming or cooking or diving. You name it! Any verb can be turned into a participle. A participial phrase is a phrase describing an action, “cooking on the stove”, “swimming in the ocean” and it is used to modify a noun in the sentence. A dangling participle modifies the unintended noun. Examples of dangling participles:
Misinterpreted: Cooking on the stove, Alice decided it was time to turn the vegetables.
It sounds as though Alice herself was being cooked on the stove.
Intended: Alice decided it was time to turn the vegetables that were cooking on the stove.
Misinterpreted: Sunburned and dehydrated, Mom decided it was time for the children to go into the house.
It sounds as though the Mom is sunburned and dehydrated.
Intended: Mom decided it was time for the children, who were sunburned and dehydrated, to go into the house.
A modifier is a word or a phrase that modifies something else in the sentence. Misplaced modifiers are modifiers that modify something else other than what you intended.
Examples of misplaced modifiers:
“I only walked my dog.” which means you did nothing but walk the dog. You did not feed or wash it, etc.
“I walked only my dog.” which means you did not walk anyone else such as your cat or your child, etc.
“I write mostly for other blogs.” which means that you write for other blogs most of the time but you may write for other sources as well.
“I mostly write for other blogs.” which means that your main activity is to write for other blogs. You may do other things too, such as sleep and eat but most of the time, you are writing for other blogs.
This is an excerpt from a book by Farnoosh Brock, available at Amazon.
Photo credit: http://maineschoolwritingcenters.blogspot.com/
Wishing you a wonderful Monday,