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Is It “Adopt” or “Adapt”?

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The answer depends on the message you want to convey. We’ll go over what these words mean and how to use them correctly.

Adopt or Adapt: What's the difference? (Photo ID: Text reads Adopt vs. Adapt)
Do you know the difference between “adopt” vs. “adapt”?
Adopt vs. Adapt– Quick Summary
  • When speaking of a child, the verb adopt means “to legally take, embrace, and raise another parent’s child as your own.” However, it can also be used to mean “to formally accept, take up, and practice as one’s own.”

      The couple wanted to adopt the young girl they were fostering.
      The constitution will adopt the new amendments.
  • Adapt is a verb that means “to modify oneself (or something) to better suit a new condition or situation.”
    • When I moved to New England, I had to adapt to the cold weather.

Understanding the Difference Between “Adopt” and “Adapt”

The company will adopt the policies.

The company will adapt the policies.

Adopt and adapt: These two words differ by only one letter, so we understand why you’re here. Below, we’ll go over what these words mean and provide examples so that you always use them correctly.

“Adopt” – Definition and Examples

Adopt is a verb that refers to the legal process of taking someone else’s child and raising it as your own.

My dream has always been to adopt a child.

In this sense, adopt can be transitive (requires an object) or intransitive (doesn’t require an object), so the following sentence is also grammatically correct:

My dream has always been to adopt.

Adopt is also used when rescuing an animal from a shelter:

Adopt, don’t shop!

You can also adopt a:

  • Policy, method, or suggestion—which means you’re formally accepting and implementing it.
  • Tone or behavior—meaning you’re taking up or using a certain tone or behavior.

In essence, adopt means “to take as one’s own” regardless of which context you’re using it in.

Adopt or adapt: What's the difference? (Photo ID: Puppy behind fencing gets pet by human.)
“Adopt, don’t shop” is a phrase used to convince people to adopt their pets from an animal shelter instead of buying them from stores. 

“Adapt” – Definition and Examples

Adapt can also be used as a transitive or intransitive verb. It means “to change or modify to better suit new environments, situations, or conditions” and can be used when referring to yourself, someone else, or something else.

The teachers adapted the curriculum to better suit the student’s needs.
Cory had to adapt to the new school.
My sister adapted well.
What About “Adept”?

Adept is mostly used as an adjective that means “proficient at doing something.”

  • He’s adept at selecting the perfect colors that make his paintings pop.

Adept can also be used as a noun meaning “a skilled or well-trained individual.”

  • His daughters were raised to be adepts at chess.

The Difference Between “Adopt” vs. “Adapt”

Remember: To adopt means to take as one’s own. To adapt means to adjust or accommodate.

That being said, the company that adopts the policies means that they’re formally accepting and implementing them. Whereas the company that adapts the policies are simply modifying them to suit their needs.

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