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Conscience vs. Conscious (Grammar Rules)

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

Are you conscious? Do you have a conscience? I hope the answer to both questions is yes, and we'll dive into why below. If you answered no to either, then I'll be more than a little concerned.

(Grammar rules for writers.)

So let's look at the differences in conscience and conscious.

conscience_vs_conscious_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Conscience vs. Conscious

Conscience is the understanding of moral goodness or wrongness. It can also mean conformity to that understanding of morality and/or a regard for it.

(Empathy vs. Sympathy vs. Apathy.)

Conscious, on the other hand, means that you're aware of your surroundings. In other words, it means you perceive your surroundings. It can also mean that you do things intentionally by making "conscious decisions."

Make sense?

Here are some examples:

Correct: Her conscience wouldn't allow her to accept a gift at someone else's expense.
Incorrect: Her conscious wouldn't allow her to accept a gift at someone else's expense.

Correct: He couldn't move after the accident, but he was conscious enough to say his name.
Incorrect: He couldn't move after the accident, but he was conscience enough to say his name.

A person can be conscious but not have a conscience, and a person can have a conscience but not be conscious, though it's often preferable to have a conscious person who has a conscience.

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