Key Difference – Give vs Provide
Give and provide are two common verbs used in the English language. Although these two verbs can be used interchangeably in some contexts, each of these verbs has a specific set of meanings. Provide means to supply or to make something available. Give has many different meanings such as pass, offer, gift and grant. The main difference between give and provide is that provide implies that what is being made available is something that is needed or desired whereas give does not carry this implication.
What Does Give Mean?
Give is one of the commonest verbs in the English language. This verb has many different meanings, and it is impossible to understand the function of this verb without looking at these different meanings. Given below are some of the most used meanings of give.
To place in the hands of; pass
Can you give me that book?
He gave me the keys.
Give me a glass of water.
To make a present of
He gave her a diamond necklace for her birthday.
What did you give him for your anniversary?
To deliver in exchange; pay
She gave five dollars for the magazine.
How much did you give him?
To bestow or grant officially
This law gives us the right to vote.
The bill of rights gives us the right to speech.
To put into the possession of another for his or her use
I forgot to give him my contact number.
She gave me her red shoes.
What Does Provide Mean?
Provide means to supply something or to make something available for someone. In simple terms, provide can be described as the act of giving. Although provide is more formal than the verb give, the two can be used interchangeably in some contexts. It is also important to notice that provide implies that what is made available is something that is needed or desired. For example, the phrase providing food indicates that the party that received the food was in need of food.
The following examples will help you to understand the meaning and usage of provide.
He provided food and clothing to a homeless shelter.
This website provides information about contagious diseases.
Workers were provided with safety helmets.
The school provided new textbooks to the students.
She found a job to provide food for her family.
Interchangeability of Give and Provide
Most of the above sentences (examples of provide) can also be written with the verb give. For example,
Workers were provided with safety helmets. → Workers were given safety helmets.
He provided food and clothing to a homeless shelter. → He gave food and clothing to a homeless shelter.
But, you’ll also notice that some sentences might sound strange and awkward if you replace give with provide. This happens because give has a wider range of meanings than provide.
Can you give me that book? →
Can you provide me that book?
She gave five dollars for the magazine. →
She provided five dollars for the magazine.
She gave me her red shoes. →
She provided me her red shoes.
What is the difference between Give and Provide?
Give has many different meanings such as offer, present, grant, bestow and provide.
Provide means to supply or to make something available.
Give does not imply that what is made available is something that is needed or desired.
Provide implies that what is made available is something that is needed or desired.
Give cannot be often interchanged with provide.
Provide can often be interchanged with give.
“ISKCON Food for life” By Gaura – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia