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Adapt vs. Adept vs. Adopt (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use adapt vs. adept vs. adopt with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Are you adept at adapting to new situations? Do you often adopt new ways of doing things? Or are you adapt at adepting new ways of adopting? If you're unsure, that's okay.

(Grammar rules for writers.)

In this post, we'll untangle the differences of adapt, adept, and adopt.

Adapt vs. Adept vs. Adopt (Grammar Rules)

Adapt vs. Adept vs. Adopt

Adapt is a verb that means to make something fit for a new use or purpose, usually through some form of modification. Sometimes the "something" is a living thing, like a plant, animal, or person.

(The Art of Adaptation.)

Meanwhile, adept can be used as a noun or adjective. As a noun, adept refers to a well-trained person. As an adjective, adept means highly skilled or expert.

Finally, adopt can be used as a verb, but it has a few similar meanings. First, adopt refers to taking a child as your own. Second, adopt can mean to put something into effect or practice something (like adopting a resolution or adopting a new singing style). Finally, teachers may adopt a textbook for their classes.

Make sense?

Here are a couple examples:

Correct: She will adapt the standard contract to fit the new terms.
Incorrect: She will adept the standard contract to fit the new terms.
Incorrect: She will adopt the standard contract to fit the new terms.

Correct: Is he adept at reading contracts?
Incorrect: Is he adapt at reading contracts?
Incorrect: Is he adopt at reading contracts?

Correct: They will adopt a new resolution in the bill.
Incorrect: They will adapt a new resolution in the bill.
Incorrect: They will adept a new resolution in the bill.

Correct: If a company wishes to adapt, it should adopt a policy of hiring adept employees.

So here's my trick for keeping these straight: The "e" in adept stands for "expert," while the "o" in adopt stands for taking something (including a child) as your "own." Finally, the "a" in adapt stands for "altering" something to make it fit for a new use or situation.

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Grammar and Mechanics

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