refuse the accusation vs. reject the accusation

Shingo

Senior Member
Japanese
I heard that "He rejected the accusation" is acceptable, while "He refused the accusation" is not.

The verbs "reject" and "refuse" seem to have a similar meaning, which is "saying no to something."

How are they different?

For example, do you say "He refused my suggestion," instead of saying "He rejected my suggestion"?

Or do you say "He refused an offer of assistance," instead of saying "He rejected an offer of assistance"?

Shingo
 
  • SwissPete

    Senior Member
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    He rejected my suggestion. :tick:
    He refused my suggestion. :cross:
    He refused to accept my suggestion. :tick:

    He rejected the accusation. :tick:
    He refused the accusation. :cross:

    He rejected an offer of assistance. :tick:
    He refused an offer of assistance. :tick:

    Refuse and reject are not always interchangeable.
     

    AquisM

    Senior Member
    English/Cantonese
    No, "he refused the accusation" sounds unnatural. "Refused" implies that the speaker was given something which he has the choice to accept or not. You can refuse a gift, or be refused a visa, but an accusation is not something you can to choose to accept or not. It is simply laid upon you by the accuser.

    You can, however, reject an accusation, as "reject" has a meaning of "deny, dismiss something as inappropriate", in addition to "saying no to something, decline".
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    These are common collocations:

    You can refute an accusation. In that phrase it's probably more apt than refuse or reject.

    You can reject (i.e. not accept) a suggestion. If a suggestion involves offering something, you may refuse it: I refused his suggestion of a cosy dinner for two.
     

    Shingo

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you,
    He rejected my suggestion. :tick:
    He refused my suggestion. :cross:
    He refused to accept my suggestion. :tick:

    He rejected the accusation. :tick:
    He refused the accusation. :cross:

    He rejected an offer of assistance. :tick:
    He refused an offer of assistance. :tick:

    Refuse and reject are not always interchangeable.
    Thank you for the answers, SwissPete!
    I understand which are right.
    I wondered why that is, but AquisM's explanation made sense to me.
     

    Shingo

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    No, "he refused the accusation" sounds unnatural. "Refused" implies that the speaker was given something to which he has the choice to accept or not. You can refuse a gift, or be refused a visa, but an accusation is not something you can to choose to accept or not. It is simply laid upon you by the accuser.

    You can, however, reject an accusation, as "reject" has a meaning of "deny, dismiss something as inappropriate", in addition to "saying no to something, decline".
    Thank you, AquisM!
    Your explanation is logical. My understanding is clear now! Thank you!
     

    Shingo

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    These are common collocations:

    You can refute an accusation. In that phrase it's probably more apt than refuse or reject.

    You can reject (i.e. not accept) a suggestion. If a suggestion involves offering something, you may refuse it: I refused his suggestion of a cosy dinner for two.
    Thank you, velisarius!

    I understand that the sentence "I refused his suggestion of a cosy dinner for two" is acceptable. I wonder what would be unacceptable.

    Could you come up with an unacceptable example of "I refused his suggestion of something...."? I thought the word suggestion usually implies or involves offering....
     

    Shingo

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you, velisarius!

    I'm sorry, but does "take up bridge" mean "build a bridge"? Or is it an idiom?
     

    Shingo

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Oh, I see.
    Do you mean that you usually don't say "I refused his suggestion to take up bridge"?
    Instead, you might say "I didn't agree to his suggestion to take up bridge"? Or is there any better way to say that?
     
    Last edited:

    Shingo

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Oh, I see.
    Do you mean that you usually don't say "I refused his suggestion to take up bridge"?
    Instead, you might say "I didn't agree to his suggestion to take up bridge"? Or is there any better way to say that?
    I get it now.
    I guess velisailus means that "I refused his suggestion to play bridge with him" is ok, while "I refused his suggestion to take up bridge" is not.
     

    AquisM

    Senior Member
    English/Cantonese
    I get it now.
    I guess velisailus means that "I refused his suggestion to play bridge with him" is ok, while "I refused his suggestion to take up bridge" is not.
    Exactly. "Refused" is fine when the suggestion is an offer or an invitation (like "play bridge with him" or "a cozy dinner"), but not when it is a piece of advice to do something (e.g. "take up bridge", "study harder".) A suggestion to take an action cannot be refused as it is only the opinion or thoughts of the person suggesting it.

    Note that "refuse" can be used in these sentences if "suggestion" isn't there (I refuse to play bridge with him, I refuse to study harder), as the action is something one can say no to, but a suggestion to take an action cannot be refused.
     
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