The Farlex Grammar Book > English Spelling and Pronunciation > Common Mistakes and Commonly Confused Words > adverse vs. averse
adverse vs. averse
What is the difference between adverse and averse?
Adverse and averse are both adjectives that have similar—but distinct—pronunciations and meanings.
Adverse (/ædˈvɜrs/ or /ˈædvɜrs/) means “antagonistic, hostile, or inimical; unfavorable or harmful to one’s interests, welfare, or wishes; contrary or in the opposite direction to.” It relates to actions or forces that are external to oneself. For example:
- “While the new drug has some great potential benefits, it has too many adverse side effects for me to recommend it.”
- “It is certainly an adverse situation, but I’ll just keep trying my best.”
- “The adverse current slowed our small boat considerably.”
Averse (/əˈvɜrs/) has the similar meaning of “opposed to or disinclined; having a strong feeling of antipathy, repugnance, or distaste.” Unlike adverse, it is used to describe personal feelings, tendencies, or thoughts, and it is usually followed by the preposition to, as in:
- “The company is notoriously averse to changing their centuries-old business model.”
- “I’ve always been averse to the smell of onions, ever since I was a kid.”
Spelling Tricks and Tips
As a quick mnemonic trick, just remember that adverse essentially means bad (both spelled with a D). And, if you are averse to something, you have an aversion to it (both spelled without a D).
Get all volumes of The Farlex Grammar Book in paperback or eBook.