POWER or STRENGTH ūüí™ūüŹľ Confusing English Vocabulary

Lesson Overview

Power & Strength: These two English words are easy to confuse. Their meaning is very similar, though if used incorrectly they sound strange and unnatural.

Power relates to energy and an ability to do something
Strength¬†relates to muscle’s ability to do something
And both of these words also refer to a mental/emotional ability to do something. And this is where they become a little confusing.

But in this lesson, I’ll explain the difference between them and show you how to use them!

Video Transcript
Section 1

Hello I’m Emma from mmmEnglish!¬†In this lesson, I’m going to talk about¬†two very similar English words.¬†Power and strength.¬†

They’re both bold, strong, serious words¬†and very similar in their meaning.¬†But if you use these words incorrectly,¬†it will start to sound unnatural or just a bit weird.¬†So that’s why we’re going to spend a little time today¬†talking about the differences between them.

Now we’re more familiar with these words¬†when it comes to fitness, right?¬†Power relates to energy and an ability to do something,¬†whereas strength relates to muscles¬†and also an ability to do something.¬†It’s really easy to see physical power and strength¬†in athletes, right? You can see it.

But they both have a more intangible,¬†less visible meaning too.¬†And that’s where these words often¬†get confused by English learners.


So the word power refers to the ability of somebody or something to change or affect something.

So physically, a sprinter, who’s someone who¬†runs really fast over short distances,¬†they need power to change¬†their speed and position quickly.¬†But it can refer to mechanical situations as well,¬†where a machine does something.¬†Or it can refer to social or political situations¬†where a person or a group does something¬†and this is often related to the ability to influence¬†or control people or a situation.

Now, power can also refer to your internal ability to change a situation. You have the power to change your life if you really want to.


Now the word strength has a few different meanings¬†but most relevant here is that it refers to a¬†person’s physical or mental ability to do something.¬†Obviously, it relates to physical strength,¬†the strength of muscles to lift weights for example.¬†But also mental strength, so the strength of your mind¬†to believe in yourself, to persevere,¬†to overcome problems and doubts.

Now, elite athletes are strong physically and mentally¬†because they must believe that they are the best,¬†to be able to perform at their best.¬†When describing people’s ability to do something,¬†power usually refers to control over yourself,¬†control over others or control over a situation.¬†So in some ways, this can be a negative expression of¬†dominance or something that must be fought for¬†or taken away from others.

Where strength is positive and often it comes from within, within a person or within a group. Generally, strength is a more positive and pure way of expressing an ability to do something. Both the words power and strength are nouns but just as common, are their adjective forms, powerful and strong, which, when used, tend to sound a little more informal.

  • She’s a strong and determined woman.
  • This is the most powerful and proactive¬†government since the 1950s.

Strength can also mean an advantage or a positive part about you. In a job interview, you might get asked this question, “What are your strengths?“

For me, that’s the dreaded question! I hate having to talk about my strengths. But what are the good features or characteristics that you have? That you’ll be able to use to help you do your job well.

  • One of her biggest strengths¬†is her determination to succeed.

Keep in mind that strength has a direct opposite. Weakness. But power does not have a direct opposite. We would just say lack of power or describe someone as powerless, unable to change a situation. The community were powerless to stop the resort development.

Well, that’s it!¬†If you enjoyed this lesson,¬†there are plenty more coming, just like it.¬†So make sure you subscribe to my channel¬†just down there.¬†And make sure that you’re getting all of my new lessons¬†but you can just keep watching right now.

Here are a couple of other lessons from my collection.¬†Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week.¬†Bye for now!

Links mentioned in the video

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