The use of ‘usage’

Posted by on January 10th, 2017 | 0 comments | context, IELTS, speaking, vocabulary, writing

The usage of technology is very important to learn effectively.

When we refer to ‘word usage‘, we might be talking about how much of a thing is used or has been used. This is usually in the context of fuel consumption:

  • Darling our electricity bill was huge this month. We really must cut down on our usage!

In language learning, meanwhile, we use usage when we’re talking about the conventions for using words:

  • This text describes the principles of word usage.

By ‘conventional’ usage, we mean:

  • how a word is conventionally used in a certain communicative context
  • how a word is conventionally used next to other words in a sentence
  • how the same word is conventionally used in a particular language (The Indonesian meaning of ‘convenient‘ is not quite the same as the English meaning.)

When we refer to ‘use of words’, we mean only the employment of words:

  • He is noted for his frequent use of wrong words.

People frequently use usage when they should use use.

The noun usage should not be substituted for use when the meaning is ‘the employment of’ – even if you think it sounds more sophisticated.

Neither of the following is correct:

  • The wise usage of computers saved the company money.
  • Usage of insulation can save fuel.

In both of these examples, use is the appropriate word.
Returning to our opening example, we need:

  • The use of technology is very important to learn effectively.


Even better, avoid ‘use‘ altogether and begin with a more coherent theme:

  • Technology plays an important role in effective learning.
  • Learning is more effective with the help of technology.

Incidentally people also write utilisation when they mean use. That’s another one likely to get you into trouble, so just avoid it. Use is all you need!

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