Can you please explain the differences between these three words?
Because I always misuse them when I am writing English.

I have read a few sentences:

The merits of the new health program are gradually being recognized.

Don't you think merit and advantage are similar?

The main advantage of using word processors is the amount of time you save.

So time-saving is something that puts word processors in a better position than other machines? Can't I use benefit instead?

  • 1
    What makes you think the words are close? Feb 8, 2021 at 15:43
  • Are you being corrected or told to use a different one in your English compositions? If you're instructed to state the advantages and disadvantages in your compositions, then you should use those words. Otherwise, it's hard to see what is wrong with your usage.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 8, 2021 at 16:46
  • Don't you think merit and advantage are similar? I know that there are very, very few true synonyms in English. If the word is different the guidance is that it has a different meaning or nuance. And let's not forget context.
    – Greybeard
    Feb 8, 2021 at 17:13
  • 1
    I would say that the slightly different shades of meaning are that merit is a good quality, an advantage makes something better than other options, and a benefit does you good. Feb 8, 2021 at 17:23
  • @KateBunting Spot on. I have made three overlapping spots to complement your comment.
    – Anton
    Feb 8, 2021 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


Inspired by the comments, I essay a simple analysis by Venn Diagram of the set of meanings of these words. I have taken a few key definitions from the Cambridge Dictionary but do not repeat them tediously for you here.

for one example:

Cambridge Dictionary

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There are areas of synonimity but there are also areas of separation of meaning. I suggest that this shows the overlap of benefit and merit as regards goodness; the helpful overtones of benefit; the feeling of praise and judgement of quality in merit; the commonality of advantage; and the unique overtones of comparison that are associated with advantage.

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