The difference between Gift and Present

I am going to tell you some points about the difference between Gift and Present in English

The difference between Gift and Present in English
The difference between Gift and Present in English
There are two words in English which apparently have the very close meaning together; They are “Gift” and “Present” which both mean “donation” or “offering” from someone to another one. They don’t differ much at first glance, while they both have very close meaning together, but there are some differences between them in terms of application and meaning which tell us to be aware of the way we use them. In other words the main difference between Gift and Present is related to their usage in the context and especially how we want to express what is in our mind. Let’s take a close look at their meaning in Oxford dictionary:
Noun :
1. Present, handout, donation, offering, bestowal, bonus, award, endowment; tip, gratuity, baksheesh; largesse; informal prezzie, freebie, perk; formal benefaction.
example: He gave the staff a gift. 
2. Talent, flair, aptitude, facility, knack, bent, ability, expertise, capacity, capability, faculty; endowment, strength, genius, brilliance, skill, artistry
example: a gift for melody
Verb :
Present, give, bestow, confer, donate, endow, award, accord, grant; hand over, make over.
example: he gifted a composition to the orchestra. 
1. In attendance, here, there, near, nearby, (close/near) at hand, available. 
example: A doctor must be present at the ringside. 
2. In existence, existing, existent.
example: Organic compounds are present in the waste. 
3. Current, present-day, existing; archaic instant.
example: the present economic climate
Opposite: absent.
Noun:  Now, today, the present time/moment, the here and now.
example: Forget the past and think about the present
Opposite: past, future.
The difference between Gift and Present in English
The difference between Gift and Present in English
Based on the above explanations from Oxford dictionary Present is commonly referred to all kinds of giving or offering from someone to someone else, and usually both of donor and receiver are at the same level of age and social category, etc. but if someone gives a Gift to someone else, the donor would be in a higher level of age, social background, and generally higher than the receiver.
Notice the following examples:

The students bought a present for their teacher.
He gave his brother a book as a present.
Our foundation is planning to gift the land to the society.
He made a gift of two million dollars to his old university.

Gift has a Germanic root which means “to give”. It is related to the act of giving and to the things being given. Present has a French root which means “to present”; the thing which is presented or bestowed. Gift meant the dowry given to a bride’s parents in Old English. Both Gift and Present were in use for the idea of something undergoing a transfer of possession without expectation of payment from the 13th century until now.

There are some numbers of difference between Gift and Present which are mentioned below:
  • Present has many various meanings and definitions, while Gift generally has one.
  • Gift has a more formal and grander implication than Present.
  • Gift applies to a wider range of situations while Present is more concrete.
  • Present has multiple meanings, most of which concern giving (a present is a gift) or time (the present is right now.
  • Present someone (as a verb) means introduce them usually to a group or to the public in formal occasions.
  • Present mean “to submit” or “hand over” something to someone, and it can be a verb, while gift is not so.
  • Gift appears to be more frequent than Present, though it is difficult to get accurate counts because if you compare occurrences of the noun Present with the noun Gift, you include that other noun Present, meaning the here and now.
  • Gifts can be related to talents, for example someone may have the gift of gab, or a musical gift.
  • Gift can be intangible, for example there is the gift of understanding or the gift of a quiet day.
  • Gift can be an attributive noun and acts like an adjective to modify another following noun. e.g. gift shop while Present doesn’t work well in this role of describing other nouns for example you can see gift boxes, gift cards, and gift wrap, and not present boxes, present cards, and present wrap.
  • Present shows only the word we want in the plural form while Gift is not so.
  • Present is more casual sounding than Gift for example a child may ask Santa for lots and lots of presents and not many many gifts.
  • Present is mostly used in a practical context, while Gift is rather used in an abstract or formal context; for example you give someone a present (and not gift) on his birthday (as it is a practical context), or you may say the gift of telepathy (and not the present of telepathy).

About Ahmad Osmani

Ahmad Osmani
I am Ahmad Osmani, an English teacher, and translator. I have more than 15 years of experience. I have been the administrator and writer of the website since its creation. I have studied Translation Studies and English Language. I love learning and teaching different languages. My main profession is writing and translating and sometime I teach English in my free time.

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