Discussion in 'English Only' started by Grux, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. Grux Senior Member

    I have found the verb "to substantiate" with the meaning of "verify" or "confirm". For example in sentences like: "This method of measurement is not highly accurate, but we used it only to substantiate our theoretical predictions"...

    Do you think these terms (substantiate/verify/confirm) are perfectly interchangeable, or are there any subtle difference?
  2. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    There are very few words in English which are "perfectly interchangeable", Grux. The closest we come to it is "someone/somebody", "anyone/anybody" etc - but even then, there are people who feel there's a difference in formality between the two options.
  3. Grux Senior Member

    In that case, may someone explain the difference among them?. Is it only a matter of grade of formality, or there is a difference in meaning?. Perhaps substantiate is more general/ambiguous?

  4. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    To me there is a genuine, though subtle, difference in meaning, particularly with substantiate. Verify and confirm are actually pretty close, though even there I'd tend to use confirm more often when my intended meaning is "prove or assert again." But for me, substantiate implies "establish with evidence." The others could involve evidence, but I would only use substantiate if I were talking about something for which there is evidence.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  5. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    They are differences, they lie in the variety of meanings that each word has.

    To substantiate (OED) To give substance or substantial existence to (something); to make real or substantial.
    or. 4. trans. to give good grounds for, to justify.


    A: “You claim that the earth is a sphere. How did you verify that?”
    B: “By measuring the length of a shadow at exactly the same time at one latitude and at another.”

    This experiment has verified the statement – to verify = to show to be true.

    A: “Can you confirm that Mr B measured the shadow in Athens?”
    C: “Yes, I was with him at the time and I saw him do it.”

    To confirm = to state, or show, an action, circumstance or statement to be correct.

    There are other meanings to each word but that is not what you asked.

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