sift out / sieve out


Senior Member
Chinese - Mandarin

Big grains and small grains are mixed in a bowl, my wife needs the big grains, so she took out a sieve(utensil) and asked me to sift out big grains.(The big grains will be left in the sieve when I pour this bowl of grains into the sieve)

1. To sift out big grains.
2. To sieve out big grains.

My dictionary defines "sift out" as: to remove something that you DO NOT want from a substance by putting it through a sieve.

But my wife needs big grains here, can she still say "sift out big grains"? Can she use "sieve out big grains" here?

Thank you.
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    To sift and to sieve have the same meaning, and indeed the same etymological origin. But neither verb tells us what you intend to do with the big grains when you've separated them; keep or reject, it's your decision.

    If your dictionary says otherwise, it's wrong.
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