React, reply, respond and return.
This post looks at four words that often confuse learners; react, reply, respond and return. They can be confusing because some of them can be used interchangeably although they have their own separate meaning and are not quite synonyms.
- To say something, do something or feel something because of something someone has said or done
Our manager didn’t react when we all said we were unhappy with his management style.
She reacted with a smile.
- To become ill because you had eaten something bad or done something to your body in some way.
I think that fish we had for dinner has reacted with me. I feel really sick.
My skin reacts badly to make-up.
3. In science, a substance reacts with another substance.
The hydrogen reacted with the oxygen to form water.
Have you replied to the manager’s email?
I knocked on the door but there was no reply.
‘I don’t know,’ he replied.
The noun form of reply is ‘a reply’.
Have you had any replies?
- To say or do something as an answer or reaction to something that someone has done or said.
The police responded to the call within ten minutes.
I tried calling your mobile five times today but you didn’t respond. Are you ignoring me?
The school asked parents to help with Sports’ Day. Unfortunately, only a few parents responded.
He responded very badly to the news.
Her manager would not respond when she asked him for extra holiday.
- To improve after medical treatment.
We were really worried about her at first, but she is starting to respond to treatment. She should be much better in a few days.
The noun form of respond is a response.
I have left five messages on your phone today but I haven’t had a single response. Are you ignoring me?
We called the police and their response was very quick. They arrived within ten minutes.
When she asked her manager for extra holiday, he would not give her a response.
We asked for help building a new children’s playground and we got a huge response. We had over one hundred and fifty replies from parents.
- Go back.
They like to return to the same hotel every year.
I need to return to the office because I left my purse on my desk. I’ll need it to pay for the tickets.
He returned home after midnight.
- Send or give something back.
Library books must be returned within three weeks.
My neighbour still hasn’t returned my DVD’s. He borrowed them six months ago!
- React to something someone does or says by doing the same thing.
Good morning, could I speak to Phil please. It’s Sarah, from the sales department, returning his call.
He called her name and smiled at her. She looked up and, pleased to see him, she returned his smile.
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