Confusing words: job, work
Job and work are used in different ways. Here are the important differences that English learners need to know:
Work and job as nouns and verbs
Work is both a verb and a noun (uncountable); job is mostly used as a noun (countable):
- I’m busy – I have a lot of work. (uncountable noun)
I have a lot of works.
- I have two jobs – I’m a taxi driver, but I also work as a part-time fireman. (countable noun)
- I’m a teacher at a nursery. It’s a great job – I love it. (countable noun)
We say go to work, start work, finish work:
- I start work at 8 o’clock every morning.
I start my job at 8 o’clock every morning.
- I go to work by bus.
I travel to my job by bus.
To describe what you do to earn money
Job is much more specific than work: your job is the name of the work that you do to earn money. It refers to your particular employment position, such as a teacher, accountant, builder, manager, etc.:
- I like my job; I’m a teacher.
My job is a teacher.
- My brother has found a good job as a sales manager at Vodafone.
- I’m looking for a new job. = I’m looking for a new position.
I’m looking for new work.
- What’s your job, Peter? = What do you do for a living?
We use work to say talk about the location or who our employer is, NOT to give a specific description or title:
- John works for Microsoft.
- Elizabeth works for a law firm.
My job is for a law firm.
- Tony works in London.
My job is in London.
In these last examples, we do NOT know what the people’s responsibilities are; we only know where they work or who they work for. We DON’T know exactly what John’s job is, we DON’T know exactly what Elizabeth’s job is. And we only know that Tony works in London – we don’t know what he does there: we would have to ask him what his job is.
As a verb, work can have other meanings, e.g. how a machine works, meaning how it functions or if it is functioning properly:
- The photocopier isn’t working- it’s broken.
- Do you understand how a car works?
As a noun, a job can also mean a task, such as repairing something at home:
- I have a few jobs to do this weekend – I have to paint the fence and fix the garage door.
OK, now it’s your turn to work – try the exercise below. Fill each gap with the correct form of either work or job (use one word per gap):
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