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.
Publish date:

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

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.


Grammar and Mechanics

No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.

Click to continue.


Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido: Entertainment and Outrage

Authors Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido explain how they came to co-write their novel and why it's important to them that the readers experience outrage while reading.


Incite vs. Insight (Grammar Rules)

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


Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: #StartWrite, Virtual Conference, and New Courses

This week, we’re excited to announce free resources to start your writing year off well, our Novel Writing Virtual Conference, and more!


20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.


Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.


Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.


Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.