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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > "Word by word" vs "word for word"    

"Word by word" vs "word for word"


"Word by word" vs "word for word"
Can anyone tell me the difference between them?

Thanks in advance

27 Apr 2009      


Word by word is like �step by step �, and word for word is in exactly the same words.


27 Apr 2009     

Russian Federation

if i`m not mistaken word by word is used for showing a gradual process;
word for word - if you repeat smth word for word, you repeat it exactly as someone else said it or wrote it.   

27 Apr 2009     

United States

I don �t know that expression - word by word - I DO know Day by Day.
Word for word means verbatim.

27 Apr 2009     


Uff...Well... i am not sure if word by word is correct, then.

I have seen it in a translation site. In fact, it is part of the url (?)

Thanks anyway

27 Apr 2009     

Hong Kong

Word by word seems to take each word one at a time.  Word for word would be taking the exact word and translating it EXACTLY(not always possible)

27 Apr 2009     


i also know word for word means literally... I �m afraid I have never heard word by word as a set expression either. however it seems to be associated with gradual progress as suggested before. GOOD LUCK :)

27 Apr 2009     


I �ve never really paid attention to this before but to me it would be used something like this:

He read the text slowly, word by word.

He repeated the text back to me word for word. He recited it perfectly.

Word by word - each word at a time.

Word for word - each word literally.


27 Apr 2009     


Zora �s explanation is good.   Now that I think about it I do use both.
To the student who is speaking so fast that I can not catch what he/she is saying:  "please say that again slowly, word by word" meaning one word at a time
To the student, who is writing down my message:  Please write this down word for word (meaning eactly as I say it, as in dictation)
Cheers, Jayho

28 Apr 2009     

United States

I think Bruna explained it prety good.  
Example: If I do a word by word translation, I end up with something totally different than what the person/text was trying to say.
word by word--one word at a time (just like step by step--one step at a time)
word for word--you say/repeat exactly what the other person said 
(as Liberty said:verbatim)

30 Apr 2009