feels like the two have extremely similar nuances when used, but curious as to how we would explain the differences between the two.

My thoughts were:

apply for something - submit documents / info etc. so that you would gain a new status / receive something in return.

file for something - submit documents / info etc. so that your submission can receive recognition.

but once I compare the two, it feels like 'gaining or receiving something in return' is also a way for my submission to be recognised, which, in my opinion, makes my definitions a little redundant. Your thoughts?


Relevant definitions:

File: 1) To take official action - "file for divorce" 2) To submit a document - "file the report to the newspaper" 3) To place a document in its correct spot - "file document correctly"

Apply: 1) To submit a request

Generally, it seems like "file" conveys a sense of finality. Conversely, "apply" conveys a sense of waiting. When you file for divorce, the divorce seems final, definite, nigh. When you apply for divorce, the divorce seems conditional, unofficial, far-off.

  • "File" used in this way, especially in a legal context, is mainly US usage. Nov 13 '20 at 7:26

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