According to the Macmillan dictionary, strive is to make a lot of effort to achieve something; and struggle to try hard to do something that is very difficult.

I would like to know the grammatic and semantic distinctions, if there is. I can't see the difference between them.

  • plznoabr8kthxbai – tchrist May 14 '16 at 3:55
  • @tchrist Would it not have been easier to fix the abbreviation than to post a passive-aggressive comment not to use them? I know as mod you go through a lot posts daily, but this just struck me as odd... – Skooba Sep 25 '17 at 19:20
  • @Skooba You're commenting on a 16 month old comment. From three months before tchrist became a moderator ... – MetaEd Sep 26 '17 at 17:20
  • @MetaEd My appologies! I did notice the time stamp. This post wast up in the review queue. Still an odd post though... – Skooba Sep 26 '17 at 17:29

strive vs struggle

The two words have similar meanings, as the OP noted, but strive has the additional meaning of working hard towards a goal. For example:

Susan is striving to achieve her dream of becoming a veterinarian

In the pursuit of her goal, Susan may have to struggle with a course requirement of calculus or she may have to struggle to overcome her aversion to snakes or she may have to struggle for years to earn enough money to support herself and pay tuition.

The difference is further illustrated by these two quotes from Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott:

Money is a needful and precious thing, and when well used, a noble thing, but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for.

But I lost her when I was a little older than you are, and for years had to struggle on alone, for I was too proud to confess my weakness to anyone else.

Strive, from The Free Dictionary

  1. to exert oneself vigorously; try hard.

  2. to make strenuous efforts toward any goal: to strive for success. (Emphasis added)

  3. to contend in opposition, battle, or any conflict; compete.

  4. to struggle vigorously, as in opposition or resistance: to strive against fate.

Struggle, from The Free Dictionary

To be strenuously engaged with a problem, task, or undertaking: struggled for years before breaking through as an actor.

To have difficulty or make a strenuous effort doing something: struggled to be polite.

To move or progress with difficulty: struggled up the steep slope

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  • It also sounds that a sentence like "they are striving" is more positive than a sentence like "they are stuggling", which can seem a bit pejorative, like they can't achieve something easily and they are having a hard time. Is it correct? – baptx Apr 10 '19 at 8:56
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    @Baptx I don't think so. For example: She was striving to create the perfect garden, and in the process she had to struggle to remove large rocks from the soil. There is nothing pejorative about struggle. And in my vet case, she had to struggle with calculus in the process of striving to become a vet. Kudos to her for struggling with something difficult for her in her striving to achieve her long term goal. – ab2 Apr 10 '19 at 13:07
  • I guess you are right, English is not my native language. But once I heard someone saying "she is struggling" while someone was singing and it did not sound very positive to me because it would mean it is difficult for the singer. I think struggling can be used to describe both positive and negative things? And striving only for positive things with a goal? – baptx Apr 10 '19 at 17:55
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    That Is an interesting point. This article talks about perfectionism versus striving for excellence. Striving to be perfect in X, particularly if you have no talent for X (like ballet for me) can make you and the people around you unhappy. – ab2 Apr 10 '19 at 20:40

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