I am making an introductive paragraph to a how-to article titled "How to learn English words effectively":

Learning words is of paramount importance, when it comes to learning a second language e.g. English. How to learn English words effectively, is a question that usually bothers most of English language learners. But it becomes dead easy to learn a bulk of words, if one applies some effective methods.

In the last sentence, I prefered using the verb "apply" for a "method", as I usually find people saying so, such as here.

But in a article from gizmodo.com, the verb "use" is used:

Scientists have to use some roundabout methods to weigh the Earth and ...

And what about practising a method? I hope it overlaps the meanings of both of these words: use and apply. To me, it's not still crytal clear.

So I went for the difference between use, apply and practise [a method], and could find a post from ELL titled What is the difference between 'use' and 'apply'?.

Sadly, at there, the question is about a field (use/apply chemical fertilizers) rather than a method, which I am asking here.

In a nut shell: my question is:

  • What's the difference between to apply, use, and practise a method?

  • Which verb [use, apply and practise] can suggest the readers to put an effective job for learning words effectively?

  • 2
    You follow a method, not apply/ use/ practice.
    – Kris
    Nov 6, 2018 at 8:55
  • 1
    @Kris, can you please elaborate it in answers, I would love to know how follow would be more accurate in comparison to apply/ use/ practice.
    – Ahmed
    Nov 7, 2018 at 3:09
  • In a nutshell
    – user66081
    Mar 24, 2020 at 11:59

2 Answers 2


I'd say your preference for “apply” is justified here.

Merriam-Webster gives, among others:

1 a: to put to use especially for some practical purpose

2: to employ diligently or with close attention

Both of these seem to be a good fit for your paragraph.

As to the difference, it’s primarily one of connotation:

  • “use” is the most neutral of the three verbs;
  • “practise” connotes frequency, habit or custom;
  • “apply” connotes diligence and effort, while suggesting that the method or technique is relevant (i.e. applies) to the problem at hand.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of practise has:

1 b: to do or perform often, customarily, or habitually

2 a: to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient

The trouble with “practise” here is that, of the two rather different senses, the rest of the paragraph suggests 2a rather than 1b.

In short, “apply” is a good fit for your paragraph.


"Practise" is more appropriate here, as it suggests a continuous effort in meeting any target. Whereas "apply" and "use" doesn't suggest so.

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