Convince vs Persuade

What is the difference?

There are many pairs of confusing words in English. The words convince and persuade are often confused. Both of these words are verbs, and they have similar meanings.

In this lesson, you will learn how to use these words correctly to improve your speaking and writing.

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses

The way people use convince and persuade has changed over the years.

First, let's look at the traditional definitions of convince and persuade.


Convince is a verb. To convince is to cause someone to believe something is true or that your idea is good one.

Convince comes from a Latin word meaning "conquer, overcome." If you convince someone to believe something, you conquer their beliefs.

When we use convince in this way, we usually say:

convince + someone + that


  • He convinced his mother that he was telling the truth.

  • I convinced the police that I was innocent.

  • I listened to her argument, but I was not convinced that she understood the problem. 

  • I couldn't convince myself that I was doing the right thing.

  • Did you convince him that you need the job?

  • I was convinced that she loved me and would marry me!

man and woman


Persuade is also a verb. To persuade is to talk someone into doing something (to make them do something by giving reasons for doing it).

Persuade comes from a Latin word that means "advise, make appealing." When you persuade someone to do something, you make that action sound appealing or good.

After persuade, we use to + infinitive.

You persuade someone to take an action.

  • I persuaded Tom to drive me to work this week.

  • Did you persuade her to buy the new car?

  • My son persuaded me to buy him ice cream.

  • Sally persuaded me to take the job.

  • I persuaded her to hire me for the job.
Interview for a job

Using "convince" and "persuade" in modern American English

Until the 1950s, convince and persuade had different meanings and were used in the different ways mentioned above.

During the 1950s in the United States, persuade and convince became synonyms. That means that they have similar meanings and can be used in the same sentences.

In modern American English, both of these sentences are correct:

  • He persuaded me to buy the car.
  • He convinced me to buy the car.

Today many writers and teachers use convince and persuade interchangeably. That means that one word can be used in place of another word.

According to some dictionaries, both words can mean "to change beliefs" and "to make someone do something," and it is acceptable to use these words as synonyms in English conversation.

Note: in modern American English both convince and persuade can be used with an infinitive.


  • I couldn't convince / persuade her to come.

  • He convinced / persuaded me that I was wrong. 

  • It will not be easy to convince / persuade her.

  • My mother convinced / persuaded me to go back to work. 

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