Adapt vs. Adopt

How to use "adapt" and "adopt" correctly

This is an entry on my list of Common Errors in English Usage. Visit the main page for direct links to additional entries.

To adapt means “to make or become suited (often by alteration)”; to adopt means “to take up for use” or “to accept and put into effect.”

freshmen adapting to a new environment
adapted it for use as a weapon

adopted a new strategy
the speaker adopted a tone of urgency

adopted the panel’s recommendations
adapted the recommendations to fit the new situation

Related Resources

Common Errors in English Usage: Errors in diction and idiom commonly made by native speakers of English

List of Common Errors in English Usage (PDF): Printable version of the complete list

Common Grammar Errors: A list of common errors in grammar (topics like subject-verb agreement and parallelism) as distinct from usage

List of Common Errors in English Usage: PDF version

© 2006, 2008, and 2019 C. Brantley Collins, Jr.