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Earn a living / make a living

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by simera, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. simera

    simera Senior Member

    France
    French
    Hello,
    I'm working on my PhD about the polysemous verb make. I am now studying occurrences in which make is used with terms about money : make a living / a profit / money, etc.
    I'm not a native speaker and I wonder what difference there is between make a living and earn a living.
    If native - or non native - speakers could give me a hand, I would be most gratefull.
    Thanks in advance for yur help.
    Elisa
     
  2. Idiomático Senior Member

    Virginia, USA
    Latin American Spanish
    Les deux veulent dire la même chose: gagner sa vie. Make est peut-être un peu moins formel que earn... peut-être.
     
  3. simera

    simera Senior Member

    France
    French
    Je me demandais effectivement si la différence ne résidait pas dans le niveau de langue.
     
  4. Angle O'Phial

    Angle O'Phial Senior Member

    USA English
    At least in the AE which I speak, make a XXX is more common than earn XXX when both are possibilities. I would almost always say, I make a living rather than I earn a living, although neither one strikes me as odd or old fashioned. There's also the old commercial where the two are used in contrast:

    Which is particularly ironic as, if I remember correctly, the firm in question (Smith-Barney) was involved in a major fraud not too long after this ad ran.
     
  5. gillyfr Senior Member

    Montreal, Canada
    English - England
    I think Angle O'Phial's example hints at the difference. There is one in my opinion. When you earn a living, you are being paid money as a direct compensation for something you do. It evokes "a fair wage for a fair day's work", and the fact that you've put effort into the work.

    Making a living implies something easier. But the difference is very subtle.
     
  6. simera

    simera Senior Member

    France
    French
    Thank you very much for your answers.

    May I try another question ? ;)

    You can say make profit.
    Is earn profit possible ? (I don't think so)
     
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I may make money in many ways. Anything that results in my receiving more money than I had before is my making money.

    I earn money when someone gives me money because I did something for them. I worked, or I made something and as a result they paid me something.


    Edit.
    In case I am not the only one never to have heard of it:
    polysemous:
    That has a multiplicity of meanings, or bears many different interpretations;
    OED
     
  8. gillyfr Senior Member

    Montreal, Canada
    English - England
    I would not consider that correct.
     
  9. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    It is the same in AE. I can make money by gambling, or by finding something in the attic and selling it. There is no sense of an exchange of labor or brain power for money. If I earn money, I do something of value to whoever pays me.

    Thanks for the definition panj. I was wondering what a blinded cyclops had to do with verbs.
     
  10. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    La même différence existe en français, me semble-t-il, entre faire de l'argent et gagner de l'argent, le premier ayant une connotation de gains faciles.
     
  11. Angle O'Phial

    Angle O'Phial Senior Member

    USA English
    Sauf qu'en anglais, make money n'a pas forcément cette idée de gains faciles, on peut très bien make money en le gagnant. Par contre, earn money veut bien dire que l'argent a été gagné. N'est-ce pas de même en français ?
     
  12. simera

    simera Senior Member

    France
    French
    Thank you very much for your help.
     
  13. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    Même si l'argent que l'on fait n'est pas toujours facile, il l'est quand même plus que celui que l'on gagne.
    Prenons comme exemple l'expression gagner de l'argent à la sueur de son front. La même expression avec faire de l'argent serait très surprenante. Le front de celui qui fait de l'argent reste sec. :)
     
  14. clairet

    clairet Senior Member

    London & Bordeaux
    England & English (UK version)
    There is another sense of "make a living" which hasn't been mentioned: to make enough money to survive. I think you could "earn a living" in the same sense.

    e.g. "I make/earn a living by gathering bits and pieces from the town rubbish dumps and selling them"
    To Bill Gates: "You must have a lot of money." Bill (sarcastically) "I make/earn a living."
     
  15. simera

    simera Senior Member

    France
    French
    I'll write all these examples down.

    Thanks a lot.

    If you have some more, you are most welcome. :)
     

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