Difference Between Adequate and Sufficient

Adequate vs Sufficient

There are many pairs of words in English that have very similar meanings. If you have something in quantities that are enough to serve their purpose, there are two words ‘sufficient and adequate’ that are most commonly used. So similar in meaning are these two adjectives that students of English language are tempted to use them interchangeably. However, despite similarities, there are differences between adequate and sufficient that will be highlighted in this article.


Adequate is an adjective that describes a condition of something meeting the minimum requirement, but just barely. Thus, if you are told that sugar in the kitchen is adequate to meet the requirements of family for the next week or so, you can assume that you have to be ready for the next purchase of sugar soon. In general, adequate seems to suggest that the quantity is just enough or sufficient for the purpose that is being talked about. Take a look at the following examples to understand the meaning and usage of the adjective.

• Electricity department does not have adequate supply of linesmen to look after the requirements of this area.

• The number of doctors in the country is not adequate enough to provide quality services efficiently to the entire population.

• This small car is adequate to take you around inside the city.

• He has adequate computer skills for the job that has been advertised.

• The salary that was offered to him was adequate but not attractive.


Sufficient is a word that describes a condition of being as much as is needed. If something or someone is sufficient for a purpose, you can relax and breathe easy as sufficient also means someone who is competent and qualified. Sufficient is an adjective that is very close in meaning to adequate, but with sufficient, you are not worried. If you find a property sufficient to meet the requirements of your family, you are inclined to buy it and move in. You find it serving your purposes fully well for the time being. This is the beauty of the word as sufficient is a quantity that is enough, and also more than adequate. Take a look at the following examples understand the meaning of this adjective.

• The police have sufficient evidence to prove that the woman is behind the death of her husband.

• There was sufficient food for all the students at the camp.

• Despite 5 more friends turning up at the party, the food and drinks proved to be sufficient.

What is the difference between Adequate and Sufficient?

• Adequate and sufficient are very close in meaning, and both describe a situation where the quantity meets the requirements but sufficient is slightly more than adequate.

• Sufficient protection means enough protection, and the same is conveyed by adequate protection, but adequate reflects a level that is barely covering the requirements whereas sufficient reflects comfortable levels.

• Adequate means just able to fulfill the requirements or the purpose. If something is adequate, it implies that the quantities are not abundant or overflowing.