Meet the Nyms: Antonyms and Synonyms. What is the Difference?
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Meet the Nyms: Antonyms and Synonyms. What is the Difference?

Helpful home school grammar teaching tip for synonym and antonym.

This article provides a grammar tip for antonym and synonym, including a short quiz. Antonym means opposite, synonym means the same.


Antonyms are words that are the opposite of each other. For example:

Something is either on or off. ON is the antonym of OFF.

You are either a boy or a girl. BOY is the antonym of GIRL.

Some antonyms are not completely opposite. The antonym words describe the top and bottom of a range. For example:

HOT is the antonym of COLD. But hot could be 100 degrees or 110 degrees, cold could be 30 degrees or 25 degrees.

LONG is the antonym of SHORT. But long could be 5 miles or 6 miles, short could be 1 mile or a half a mile.

HERE is the antonym of THERE. You can't be in both places at the same time.

All are still antonyms, it doesn't really matter that one kind describes "either/or" and one kind describes a range.


Synonyms are words that mean almost the same thing, and either one can be used most of the time. For example:

When you go shopping, do you go to the store or the market? STORE is a synonym for MARKET.

When you pour a soft drink, do you see bubbles or foam on top? BUBBLES is a synonym for FOAM.

Dog and puppy are synonyms. All puppies are dogs, but not all dogs are puppies. Puppy is a more specific description of a dog.

Using a Thesaurus

Synonyms are almost but not exactly the same. When you are writing, you may think of several synonyms for something that you want to describe. Pick the word that explains your idea the best. Or sometimes, you find that you use the same word over and.

A Thesaurus is a book that lists synonyms and antonyms for words. You can use a Thesaurus to pick another similar word. Look for a word that more exactly describes the feeling you want in the sentence. Your writing will be more specific instead of repeating the same word.

How to Remember

ANTOnym is opposite, SYNOnym is the same.

One easy way to remember:

SYNONYM and SAME both start with S.

ANTONYM and AGAINST (opposite) both start with A.


Have fun with this quick quiz. In the following, which are antonyms and which are synonyms?

1. man, woman

2. sparkle, glitter

3. far, distant

4. easy, hard

5. big, small

6. big, large

7. stop, go

8. run, jog

9. cat, kitten

10. agree, disagree


1. antonym

2. synonym

3. synonym

4. antonym

5. antonym

6. synonym

7. antonym

8. synonym

9. synonym (kittens are cats, but not all cats are kittens)

10. antonym

Photo courtesy of kakisky at

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