This week's grammar rules post looks at two words that are often confused with each other: evoke and invoke. In fact, some dictionary editors have thrown up their hands and agreed with public perception that these two terms are similes. But I'd like to make the case that they are different.
So let's look at the differences between evoke and invoke and when to use each.
Evoke vs. Invoke
Evoke is a verb that means to provoke an emotion; call forth a thought, memory, or feeling; or recreate with imagination. For instance, the mention of pumpkins and corn mazes might evoke a sense of autumn for some people.
Invoke, on the other hand, is a verb that refers to the action of calling upon someone or something to help or support in some endeavor. For instance, a person may invoke a genie to grant them three wishes. A person may also invoke their rights to protect themselves in a court of law.
Here are a few examples of evoke and invoke:
Correct: The opening paragraph of Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree evokes a sense of my hometown.
Incorrect: The opening paragraph of Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree invokes a sense of my hometown.
Correct: Laura invoked a spirit to help ace her math test.
Incorrect: Laura evoked a spirit to help ace her math test.
I was saddened to see that some places make evoke and invoke similes, because these two words evoke very distinct and unique meanings for me. I invoke all who read this post to help keep them that way.
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.