Present or gift – which do you prefer?

Did you get many presents this Christmas? Or did you only receive gifts?

Because it has its roots in many different languages, English often has two words that mean the same or very similar things – presents and gifts, freedom and liberty, useful and helpful etc. This wide vocabulary may make English harder to learn as a second language but it gives copywriters a bigger toolbox to work with.

Choosing the right word when writing your own copy

When it comes to writing copy, having a wide range of words to call on can be extremely useful for several reasons:

  1. Less repetition of words in your copy – you’re not as likely to have to use the same word twice in one sentence
  1. Subtle differences between words – and the response they arouse in the reader – can be useful in the way you market your products and services
  1. Richness of language – your copy will read better and sound more appealing

Presents v gifts

Giving or receiving a gift somehow seems to describe a richer experience than the more prosaic ‘present’. While both present and gift are used after the words Christmas, birthday and anniversary, gift is also used alongside words such as ‘precious’ or ‘special’. Consider the following phrases:

The gift of life

The greatest gift

She had a rare gift

A gift from God/from the heavens


Subtlety in copywriting

Sometimes it’s better to use plain language in copywriting, but on other occasions you may want to call on the full richness of the English language for your marketing copy.

As with all copywriting, think about your desired audience. Consider the kind of language they will respond to best: simple and down to earth or more descriptive and emotive. Web copy for a firm of electrical engineers should utilise a different vocabulary from brochure copy written to promote a luxury beauty product.

Any good copywriter will be able to vary the language they use and the type of words they choose for different clients. It may sound obvious, but those writing their own copy often get this wrong – or even incorrect!







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