Can these words be used interchangeably when referring to a point in the world?

  • What did your dictionary say?
    – GEdgar
    May 10 '12 at 2:46
  • It didn't say anything about if I can use the words interchangeably.
    – user103231
    May 10 '12 at 2:54
  • Example: 1.) Hold your position. 2.) Hold your place. Are both correct?
    – user103231
    May 10 '12 at 3:01
  • In dictionary it says, position can be place and place can be a position but I don't think I can use any of them two words with any sentence.
    – user103231
    May 10 '12 at 3:03
  • 4
    Why the down votes and the close vote? This is a perfectly valid Q. And no small challenge at that. Let's try to come up with a convincing answer.
    – Kris
    May 10 '12 at 5:22

A good way to think of it is that a position is more defined than a place: given the chess board example, the position a piece can be in is defined by the 64 squares on the board. While you could say the knight piece is in the place of A-4, it'd be more definitive to say it is in the position of A-4, to imply that there is structure to where it can be.

On the other hand, a place is more ambiguous and requires no structure.


They are related, but not interchangeable.

Link to definition of place

Link to definition of position

  • Place is an area and a position is a single point. Is my understand correct? If a position can also be an area then why cannot we use them interchangeably?
    – user103231
    May 10 '12 at 5:15
  • 2
    @user, "place" is "a particular region, center of population, or location". New York City is a place, not a position. A restaurant, a movie theatre, someone's home are places, not positions. A "position" is a location, a coordinate on a map.
    – Old Pro
    May 10 '12 at 9:11
  • Old Pro is correct. "Position" cannot refer to an area, only to a single point or something conceptually that is as close to a single point as makes practical sense in the conversation.
    – leoger
    Jun 15 '12 at 6:26

Position often refers to a specific location for which there are geographic or other coordinates. For example, the use "GPS Position" refers to a specific location on the earth, identified by by a latitude, longitude, and altitude (and various error estimates, called the dilution of precision coefficients). GPS stands for Global Positioning System, and in this sense "positioning" means the finding of positions for users of the system. One would be hard pressed to substitute the word "place" in either context. The neologism "geolocation" is often used by technologists and navigation specialists, but often position or "position fix" is used by the broader community.


"place" and "position" could be used interchangebly in some specific case, one that i can think of right now is related to the pieces in a chess game, you could say that the white queen is in A-3 like this - "White queen's place is A-3", or "White queen's position is A-3"

The difference though is that "position" in many cases involves a meaning of "orientation", like... "i'm in the middle of the room, facing the window", so "place" would be "the middle of the room" and "position" would be "facing the window". Position could also mean the state of your body like "laying on the floor", "sitting", "upright", etc.

"Position"could also have a hierarchic meaning, like "subordinate" or "boss", can be considered positions.

"Place" may indicate a similar situation, as in "I'm in no place of giving orders" (considering that I'm a subordinate in some case).

So, "place" and "position" have similarities, but also specific values.


It seems to me that "Place" and "Position" can be used interchangeably as a verb:

  • "The fencing was placed so, that you could not pass"
  • "The fencing was positioned so that you could not pass"

Both meaning "... was placed in such a way that ...."

  • But not always, as with the nouns: 'I know him, but I can't quite place him.' Yes, a metaphorical usage, which is not what OP asked for. But they didn't ask for usages of the verbs either. Aug 31 '15 at 12:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.