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Explaining The Difference Between “Conscience,” “Conscious,” and “Conscientious”

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“Conscience” and “conscious” both relate to the mind, but what about “conscientious”? This blog post will teach you the difference between these three commonly confused words.

(What does conscious mean? What does conscience mean? What does conscientious mean?)
Do you know the difference between these three words?
  • Conscience is a noun that means “an inner feeling or voice that tells you whether your actions are right or wrong.”
  • Conscious is an adjective that means “aware of and responding to one’s surroundings.”
  • Conscientious is an adjective that means “wishing to do what is right, especially to do one’s work or duty well and thoroughly.”

In the English language, there are many words and phrases that can be interchanged, such as despite and in spite of. The words conscience, conscious, and conscientious do not fall under this category. They look similar, but they have three distinct definitions. Below, we’ll go over what each word means and prove example sentences.

What's the difference between conscious, conscience, and conscientious?
“Conscience” is a noun, whereas “conscious” and “conscientious” are both adjectives.


What Does “Conscience” Mean?

Conscience /ˈkɑːnʃəns/ is a noun that refers to the “inner feeling or voice that tells us what is morally right or wrong and impels us towards right action.”

I advised my niece to let her conscience guide her.

When someone has a guilty conscience, it means that “they feel guilty about something they did that they perceive as wrong.

My guilty conscience kept me up all night.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, when someone has a clear conscience, they feel that they did the right thing and therefore feel no guilt.

My conscience was clear because I knew I did the right thing.

What Does “Conscious” Mean?

Conscious /ˈkɑːnʃəs/ is an adjective that means “aware of and responding to one’s surroundings; awake.”

When she fell, she hit her head really hard, but luckily, she remained conscious.

When one is unconscious, it means that they are not conscious, so they are “without awareness, sensation, or cognition.”

My sister was unconscious for three days after the accident.

Conscious can also mean “being acutely and painfully aware of,” or “sensitive to.”

He is conscious of his weight gain.

When using conscious in this respect, the opposite is not unconscious. In other words, if someone is oblivious or unbothered by their weight gain, you wouldn’t say “He is unconscious about his weight gain.”


What Does “Conscientious” Mean?

Conscientious /ˌkɑːnʃiˈenʃəs/ is an adjective commonly used to describe someone who “takes care to do things carefully and correctly.”

She was a conscientious student and graduated at the top of her class.

Conscientious also refers to “being governed by conscience to do what’s right.”

He is a conscientious lawyer who does not let outside sources stop him from doing what is morally right.

Conscience

Conscious

Conscientious


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