Many students confuse the words conform and confirm. How do you know when to use each one?
Both words are verbs, and there are only small differences in their spellings and pronunciations. However, you need to be careful, because the meanings of the two words are very different. It is important to know when to use each one, because one is used to speak about rules and regulations, and the other is used to say that facts and opinions are true. Using the wrong word can lead to confusion!
In order to understand the differences between conform and confirm, let's look at some examples.
The word conform means that something meets or fulfills the rules, standards or expectations.
Usually, the word is used in one of two circumstances.
First, conform can be used to speak about obeying rules of governments and other authorities.
When new buildings are constructed, they have to conform to government guidelines. Similarly, airplanes are designed in order to conform to international regulations. When buildings and airplanes do not conform to these kinds of laws, it is a big problem!
The second common use of conform is to speak about human behavior. When we say that a person conforms, we mean that he or she acts in the way that society expects or does what he or she is supposed to.
Sometimes it is considered a good thing to conform, and sometimes it is seen as a bad thing. People who do not conform may be seen as free thinkers, or they may be viewed as rebels or rule breakers.
Conform has a variety of word forms. To speak about the idea of conforming, we use the abstract noun conformity. Meanwhile, a person who conforms is described as a conformist.
And a person who does not conform is called a non-conformist.
In order to specify what rule, regulation or expectation is being satisfied, we generally follow conform with the word "to."
Conform can also be followed by "with," but this is less common.
The word confirm is used in several ways, all related to truth, correctness and agreement.
First, confirm is used to say that you have checked the details of something. Things that are commonly confirmed are the times of appointments, the locations of meetings, the prices of products and the spellings of names. When used in this way, confirm means check or make sure that something is right.
Second, confirm can be used to explain why something is true, right or correct. Evidence is used to confirm theories, and facts are used to confirm opinions. When used in this way, synonyms for confirm are support, prove and show the truth of.
Next, confirm can be used to say that you are definitely going to do something. A synonym for this use of confirm is promise. It is common to confirm your attendance at events and to confirm that you will complete work, projects and tasks within a certain time frame.
Finally, confirm is used to mean that a decision has been accepted. This use of confirm is often related to people. For example, it is possible to say that someone has been confirmed as the director of an organization or confirmed as the head of a company. When used in this way, confirm means accept or approve.
Bear in mind that in all of these definitions, confirm is quite a formal word. However, it is still very common. Confirm has both noun and adjective forms. The noun form of the word is confirmation, and the adjective form is confirmed. Something that has not been confirmed is unconfirmed.
The following list summarizes the most common collocations of confirm:
After confirm, no preposition is needed.
Both conform and confirm are useful words, but confirm is much more common and has a wider range of meanings. Confirm will probably be more useful in your day to day speech.
Daisy is a non-conformist. Her way of dressing confirms that she does not like to conform. At her school, students are supposed to conform to the dress code. Instead of conforming and wearing the blue and gray uniform, Daisy wears bright colors like purple, red and green. When Daisy's parents call the school to ask if this is a problem, the school confirms that it is. So now, during the week Daisy conforms to the dress code, but on the weekends she wears what she wants.
Daisy's brother Peter doesn't mind conforming. When his parents tell him that he needs to wear a uniform, he confirms that it isn't a problem. The school director, who was confirmed last week, is happy that at least one person in the family conforms to the rules.
The differences between Daisy and Peter confirm that just because you are brother and sister, it doesn't mean that you will be similar people! Maybe in the future Daisy will conform, and Peter will decide not to conform. No one knows! If this happens, it will confirm that people can always change their minds about how they want to be.
Answer the following 10 questions and then check your answers. Each question is worth 10 points.
Part 1: 1. C | 2. D | 3. A | 4. D
Part 2: 1. B | 2. A | 3. C | 4. C | 5. B | 6. A