English Lesson: Learn Vs. Study

Michael Confusing Words, Vocabulary Leave a Comment

I guess since you are reading this you are studying English. I know that learning a language is not easy. Some people study for years and still have a hard time. Just about every day I fill up the pixels on your computer with material that hopefully can help you learn something in English. I hope you enjoy studying with me.

Today, we are going to look at the difference between learn and study.

Study is a process. When you study, you use tools such as books and computers in order to help you get information into your head. You study because you want to learn something.

  • I have been studying Japanese for more than 10 years.
  • Frank is studying to become a doctor.
  • Angelina is studying her lines for her next movie

Learn is what happens as a result of studying or experience. When you learn something, you have it in your head forever.

  • I learned how to cook Italian food from my mom.
  • It’s hard to learn all of the things you need to know to become a doctor.
  • A musician needs to learn all of the words of a song before his performance

Learning is the result of studying or experiencing something. And, since learning refers to complete understanding, we don’t usually use learn when we talk about wide fields of knowledge:

  • Frank studied philosophy in college. Not, Frank learned philosophy in college. We wouldn’t expect that Frank would have learned EVERYTHING about philosophy, so we say he studied it, not that he learned it.

We can, however, say that we learn about something. This means we got some information about a topic or situation.

  • I learned about Ben Franklyn in elementary school. 
  • George is learning about life in the desert in Africa.

We also use learn when we talk about playing a musical instrument.

  • I want to learn how to play the guitar.
  • Joe is learning the saxophone now.

Well, I hope you learned something from studying today’s lesson! Remember, if you have a suggestion for a one-point lesson, feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email!