Word Confusion: Convince versus Persuade

Posted November 21, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Turns out that convince and persuade are distinct, even though both intend to change a person’s mind through facts or arguments.

Convince involves the mind in overcoming another’s indecision.

Persuade sweetly advises the other party to change his or her mind, which results in action.

The prime minister convinced the council that delay was pointless. The senator persuaded her colleagues to pass the legislation.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Convince Persuade
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: convince, persuade

A Marlboro cowboy carrying his saddle and lariat while smoking

“The Marlboro Man” courtesy of Garrett Guzman’s post, “Regulate is a Dirty Word“, at CopyPress.com

Marlboro Man cigarette ads were highly successful in convincing people that smoking was cool.

Stephen Samson is pushed up against a wall by Dayle Teegarden in The Hidden Persuaders movie

“The Hidden Persuaders 2010” is Samsondfgjdefrjdfkljdf’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Persuading is more physical.

Part of Grammar:
Verb, transitive

Third person present verb: convinces
Past tense or past participle: convinced
Gerund or present participle: convincing

Verb, transitive

Third person present verb: persuades
Past tense or past participle: persuaded
Gerund or present participle: persuading

Cause someone to believe firmly in the truth of something

  • Persuade (someone) to do something
  • Cajole

To move by argument or evidence to belief, agreement, consent, or a course of action

[Obsolete] To prove or find guilty

[Obsolete] To overcome

  • Vanquish
Cause someone to do something through reasoning or argument

  • Cause someone to believe something, especially after a sustained effort
  • Convince
  • [Of a situation or event] Provide a sound reason for someone to do something
Robert’s expression had obviously convinced her of his innocence.

You couldn’t convince him that a floppy disk was as good as a manuscript.

She convinced my father to branch out on his own.

We must convince the jury of his guilt.

I guarantee that a test drive will convince you that this car handles well.

We finally convinced them to have dinner with us.

It wasn’t easy, but I persuaded him to do the right thing.

They must often be persuaded of the potential severity of their drinking problems.

He did everything he could to persuade the police that he was the robber.

The cost of the manor’s restoration persuaded them to take in guests.

He finally persuaded them to buy it.

Even with the evidence, the police were not persuaded.

Adjective: convincible
Adverb: convincedly
Noun: convincedness, convincer, convincibility, convincement, convincer
Adjective: nonpersuadable, persuadable, persuasible
Adverb: persuadably, persuadingly
Noun: persuadability, persuader, persuadableness, persuasibility
History of the Word:
Mid-16th century in the sense of overcome, defeat in argument is from the Latin convincere, from con- (with) + vincere (conquer). Late 15th century from the Latin persuadere, which is from per- (through, to completion) + suadere (advise).

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

“Do Wish You Were Here, Virginia State Parks” is by Virginia State Parks staff under the CC BY 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.