Convince or persuade

Ask the wise old owl

Wise Old Owl

Someone asked a question in relation to the title of my article How can you persuade people to trust you?

The question was about my choice of word in the title, and whether it would be better to use “convince” instead of “persuade”.

Often these words are used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Basically, convince is used when you want someone to believe that something is true:

I convinced him that going for long walks is a good way to lose weight.
We convinced the rest of the team that it was a bad idea to spend all of the advertising budget on Facebook adverts.

If you want someone to take action, you need to persuade them to do it.

I persuaded my mum to give me a lift to the airport because a taxi would have been really expensive.
I persuaded my boss to let me have next week off, even though I should really have given her more notice.

I could convince someone that I’m trustworthy, but I want to persuade them to trust me. You can convince someone of the truth of something, but you persuade them to take action.

As a general rule, you should not follow the word “convince with an infinitive (to + a verb).

More articles in this series

If you want to read the rest of the articles in this series, go to the wise old owl’s main page.

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