I was reading a book with tests when I encountered this question:

< "If you quit your job, you'll have to make do with fewer material possessions. Those who've decided to (make a change/make a difference) like this don't seem to regret it.

Is there a difference in the meaning between "make a difference" and "make a change" ?

My guess is that making a difference is more than just a simple change and means making a significant change, however making a change is referring to just a simple change and nothing more. Am I right guys?

  • 1
    Yes, "make a difference" means more than making a simple change. A "change" is, in a way, "input" to the situation, while a "difference" is noticeable "output". Eg, "If we change the color will it make a difference?"
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 9, 2014 at 12:41

3 Answers 3


As far as I know, "make a change" means that you are making something different than how it was. You are CAUSING something.

"make a difference" literally means that the EFFECT is different than the original.


He made a change with his new tactics. means that he tried differently. He made a cause. It does NOT really mean that his tactics caused an effect. The result might be the same irrespective of his new tactics. His action is given emphasis.

He made a difference by changing his tactics. means that by changing his tactics, something different happened out and it would not have happened if he did not do that. The result is given emphasis.


Most times, one needs to make a change in order to make a difference, but sometimes, sadly, making a change makes no difference at all.

  • Nice comment. Though not an answer.
    – Kris
    Nov 9, 2014 at 13:52
  • Touché, I was hoping the answer would be implied. But perhaps I should've posted a comment instead of answer.
    – kip
    Nov 9, 2014 at 19:12

Here, there is a difference between the two choices and the correct answer is "to make a change".

to make a change = to make an alteration.

to make a difference = to have an effect (or no effect) on a person or situation.

"You won't lose any weight without making changes in your diet. Substituting pasta for French fries won't make any difference and you won't lose any weight."

  • Would you please explain more why you choose "make a change" as the answer?
    – NEO
    Nov 9, 2014 at 13:54
  • 1
    @NEO because first you make a change ("quit the job") and then you see if it makes any difference in your life. ("those who decided to do it don't seem to regret." Probably because it made a difference in their quality of life. For the better.) "They decided to make a difference" wouldn't fit here. Just a matter of semantics, not gramar.
    – Centaurus
    Nov 9, 2014 at 14:51

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