Conserve vs Preserve

saudara

Member
Spain
Again, I've got a multiple-choice query.
In the following exercise, I'm supposed to choose the best option to fill in the gap:
It boasts the oldest buildings in the Americas. A cathedral, a university and a hospital, all situated within the beautifully ... Old Colonial Quarter.
A preserved B reversed C conserved D revised
I know the correct option is A preserved. However, I found the following definition for "conserve" in the wordreference dictionary:
conserve, preserve, maintain, keep up
keep in safety and protect from harm, decay, loss, or destruction; "We preserve these archeological findings"; "The old lady could not keep up the building"; "children must be taught to conserve our national heritage"
So, if they are synonyms, why is it not possible to use "conserve" in this context? Thank you
 
  • Tabac

    Senior Member
    U. S. - English
    Again, I've got a multiple-choice query.
    In the following exercise, I'm supposed to choose the best option to fill in the gap:
    It boasts the oldest buildings in the Americas. A cathedral, a university and a hospital, all situated within the beautifully ... Old Colonial Quarter.
    A preserved B reversed C conserved D revised
    I know the correct option is A preserved. However, I found the following definition for "conserve" in the wordreference dictionary:
    conserve, preserve, maintain, keep up
    keep in safety and protect from harm, decay, loss, or destruction; "We preserve these archeological findings"; "The old lady could not keep up the building"; "children must be taught to conserve our national heritage"
    So, if they are synonyms, why is it not possible to use "conserve" in this context? Thank you
    I can't speak to the dictionary's analysis, but 'preserve' sounds much better to me in this case.
     

    Lexiphile

    Senior Member
    England English
    Saudara, all synonyms are equal, but some synonyms are more equal than others.

    That's another way of saying that the choice of which of two synonyms you should use comes down to 1) convention and 2) personal style. Which is why Tabac would choose "conserved" and I (and the author of your exercise, apparently) would choose "preserved". Neither of us would be wrong, though the convention in NW USA might be different from any that I have experienced and therefore we are each "compelled" to adhere to a different convention.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I would choose "preserve", too. Although there is a meaning of "conservation" that is quite often similar to "preservation" (Wilderness Conservation, Historic District Conservation), when it comes to the adjective I think of "conserved" as the judicious (and sometimes sparing) use of something rather than the careful upkeep of something.

    In the U.S. we constantly hear about conserving water, fuel, our own energy, the country's energy, natuiral resources of all kind. They're all speaking to consumption or use of a resource. I supposed that's why it sounds a little odd to me to say "a beautifully conserved Old Colonial Quarter", although I wouldn't be surprised if the preservation work were done by a Building Conservation Society. :)
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    When speaking of works of art or achitecture, "preserve" and "conserve" do not mean the same thing. A building that has been "preserved" has been saved from destruction. A building that has been "conserved" has received some sort of deliberate action that either repaired damage, or that removed some later addition, or that was intended to minimize the damaging effects of time in the future.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    For me it's the adverb that makes the big difference. Without beautifully I would've said either preserved or conserved. With beautifully I'd only say preserved. Preservation sounds somehow more 'artistic' than conservation.
     

    justarunkumar

    New Member
    Hindi, English and Nepalese
    Ask me frankly, I believe you generally preserve anything tangible and conserve the intangible. Apply to a variety of ways you use these words in your every day life. There may however be exceptions but I believe what I said above, is generally applicable to their usage.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Ask me frankly, I believe you generally preserve anything tangible and conserve the intangible. Apply to a variety of ways you use these words in your every day life. There may however be exceptions but I believe what I said above, is generally applicable to their usage.
    Do you mean to suggest that you preserve scarce resources? They are tangible.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Ask me frankly, I believe you generally preserve anything tangible and conserve the intangible. Apply to a variety of ways you use these words in your every day life. There may however be exceptions but I believe what I said above, is generally applicable to their usage.
    No, not at all. For example, you may make a strawberry jam and it could be labelled strawberry conserve, but another jar of jam made by somebody else could be an apricot preserve. For jam makers there is no difference. As mentioned above, for historic buildings and works of art there is a clear difference in meaning.

    For me, the answer to the original question is undoubtedly "beautifully preserved". There may well have been conservation work on some of the buildings, but the quarter as a whole has been preserved.

    Just to muddy the waters, in the UK a "conservation area" is one in which major alterations to properties are restricted in order to preserve the appearance of the area!
     
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