gather

mimi2

Senior Member
vietnam vietnamese
Hi,
In this case can I use “collect” instead of “gather”?
“Bees gather pollen from the wild flowers”
Thanks.
 
  • Forero

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I don't think that in most situations it can be argued that "collect" and "gather" are not synonymous.
    They are sometimes interchangeable, and in a different context I might even see the difference almost the other way around.

    I would say the bees gather or collect nectar but that pollen collects on the bees' legs. But to say it gathers would be to say that it clumps together.

    It's all in the context, and in the present context, they are almost but not quite interchangeable, in my view.

    What I don't know about this context is whether bees actually gather the pollen and collect it at home for food or something or whether it merely collects on their legs for the benefit of the flowering plants.

    If they collect it at home for their own purposes, collect and gather both can refer to picking it up, bringing it back, and storing it. But if they do not mean to bring it back and store it, I don't think gather applies as well as collect.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    I don't think that the preponderance of AE speakers would make this sort of distinction in connotations.
    Personally, I would not find a difference between "Pollen collects on the bees' legs" and "Pollen gathers on the bees' legs."
    Similarly, "I collected enough firewood to last the entire night" and "I gathered enough firewood to last the entire night" have the same meaning to me. Whether one is more customary or euphonious is another matter.

    Can you point to a dictionary or other source that supports your assertions of these nuances?
     

    verbivore

    Banned
    USA, English
    Semantically, mimi2, there's not too much difference. However, "to collect" is used in too many other contexts, such as taxes and bills and stamps and composure, etc., so I don't like it in a "nature" context. "Gather" is used for items that you can pile up or group together or accumulate: a crowd gathered; he gathered the wood, etc. This list is by no means complete since each word has many different meanings depending on the context. However, here, in this context, I very much prefer "gather."
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Semantically, mimi2, there's not too much difference. However, "to collect" is used in too many other contexts, such as taxes and bills and stamps and composure, etc., so I don't like it in a "nature" context. "Gather" is used for items that you can pile up or group together or accumulate: a crowd gathered; he gathered the wood, etc. This list is by no means complete since each word has many different meanings depending on the context. However, here, in this context, I very much prefer "gather."
    Do the bees pile up, group together, or accumulate pollen, or do they just passively carry the stuff around? If they do pile it or group it, gather is a fitting word, and I wouldn't change it. Bees surely do not collect pollen as people collect stamps.

    It really is a tiny difference, since both words sound natural, and native, in the sample sentence, and the two words have very similar (and some of the same) meanings.

    Mimi, do you have a particular sense you want to convey, or a particular sense you don't want to convey with this sentence?
     

    mimi2

    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    Hi, Forero and verbivore.
    When I read a sentence, I often think of other words I used to learn, hear or see and I like to ask.
    Your comments helped me widen my knowledge, help me love my English more. :)
    Thanks.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't think that in most situations it can be argued that "collect" and "gather" are not synonymous.
    It's dangerous, Bibliolept, to make such assertions, because for some they amount to a challenge. The most obvious exception here is that of a collector of objects of value, like stamps or books: we can't say his hobby is gathering books; it has to be collecting books. Collecting flowers for a posy sounds a little prosaic and fussy, to my ear, compared with gathering flowers for a posy.

    Collecting often has a sense of meticulous choosing of individuals, while gathering, to me, implies a more informal picking up and bringing together. Suppose I say she gathered the washing and went into the house; is that the same as she collected the washing and went into the house? To my ear gather has a more casual sense of recuperation to it; collect suggests a precise purpose - there's less of an easy feeling of doing the one thing while also doing others. I'm not sure if this is quite the point Forero was making in his post, but I think it is related.
     

    mimi2

    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    It's dangerous, Bibliolept, to make such assertions, because for some they amount to a challenge. The most obvious exception here is that of a collector of objects of value, like stamps or books: we can't say his hobby is gathering books; it has to be collecting books. Collecting flowers for a posy sounds a little prosaic and fussy, to my ear, compared with gathering flowers for a posy.

    Collecting often has a sense of meticulous choosing of individuals, while gathering, to me, implies a more informal picking up and bringing together. Suppose I say she gathered the washing and went into the house; is that the same as she collected the washing and went into the house? To my ear gather has a more casual sense of recuperation to it; collect suggests a precise purpose - there's less of an easy feeling of doing the one thing while also doing others. I'm not sure if this is quite the point Forero was making in his post, but I think it is related.
    Hi, Thomas Tompion.
    I appreciate your explanation and I am grateful for it. Thanks. :)
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I agree with Thomas's assessment, and he has provided an example of a context (bringing in the wash) that turns the tables on what I was saying, making collect the more deliberate action.

    I still don't know what we are trying to say about the bees, but the wash is something we set out and later bring in, which is a different situation from selecting firewood and bringing it in. In the case of flowers, collecting for treasure or for display is different from gathering for a posy. If I thought bees were making a posy or setting up a display, I would choose my verb based on their intent.

    Gathering cloth is very different from collecting cloth.

    There are lots of dimensions to the differences, and the differences are usually minor, but the context and the intended meaning can make gather or collect either the mot(s) juste(s) or quite the nonsequitur(s).
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I doubt if it matters a great deal, but the bees deliberately accumulate pollen and bring it back to the hive. It sticks to their hairy bodies as they struggle into the flowers. They scrape it off and stick it together in kind of yellow-orange pollen balls on their back legs. Back at the hive they chew it into cakey stuff that they feed to baby bees. Picture

    Do they gather or collect?
    I think they do either, synonomously.
     

    Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    I agree with Thomas's assessment, and he has provided an example of a context (bringing in the wash) that turns the tables on what I was saying, making collect the more deliberate action.

    I still don't know what we are trying to say about the bees, but the wash is something we set out and later bring in, which is a different situation from selecting firewood and bringing it in. In the case of flowers, collecting for treasure or for display is different from gathering for a posy. If I thought bees were making a posy or setting up a display, I would choose my verb based on their intent.

    Gathering cloth is very different from collecting cloth.

    There are lots of dimensions to the differences, and the differences are usually minor, but the context and the intended meaning can make gather or collect either the mot(s) juste(s) or quite the nonsequitur(s).


    I agree. So much is a matter of conventional usage. Storm clouds gather [intransitively], but I gather primroses [transitively] in the wood. However I don't gather water: I collect water in a bucket. Animals gather together for safety, but the owner collects his horses from the trainer's stables...
     
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