“Adopt” vs “Adapt”: Main Differences & How to Use Both Correctly as a Writer

Have you ever battled to decide whether to use “adopt” or “adapt” in your writing? You are not alone! These two verbs, despite their identical sound, have different meanings that can affect the message you communicate.

This article will educate you on the subtle differences between adopt vs adapt. We’ll look at what each word means, present clear examples, and provide you with the knowledge to confidently choose the proper word for every occasion.

By the end, you’ll be an expert at using “adopt” and “adapt” to describe yourself accurately!

What is Adopt vs Adapt

Adapt means “to change your behavior so that it is easier to live in a particular place or situation.” 

Also, adapt can be used as either an intransitive or transitive verb. 

It can be used for oneself, another person, or something else, and means “to change or modify to better suit new environments, situations, or conditions.”

Adopt something means taking it over, but to adapt means changing it to meet your needs. 

Adoption is the legal process of claiming and raising another person’s kid as your own. 

For example;

  • To adopt a child has always been my dream. 
  • Adopt is always a transitive verb, that is, it requires an object.

See also:“Homophone” vs “Homonym”: Main Differences & How to Use Both Correctly as a Writer

When is adapt used? 

The word “adapt” is used when something is modified to make it more suitable for a certain purpose or while relocating. 

In literature and film, the phrase “adapt” refers to a play or book that has been developed by changing a work from a different genre or medium. 

For example: 

  • The cosmetics adapt to all skin types. 
  • I quickly adapted to the new work environment. 
  • A television adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones was created.

When is adopt used? 

The term “adopt” refers to taking over, selecting, accepting, or approving something voluntarily. 

For example: 

  • I adopt healthy eating habits because I care about my health. 
  • To improve the workplace culture, the firm adopted new HR policies. 
  • Adopting a child is another legal way to include them in your family. 

Now that you have understood the difference between adapt vs adopt, let us move on.   

How to use adapt vs/and adopt correctly in academic writing

Using “Adapt”

When describing how beings or animals survive in their environments, the term “adapt” is used. 

  • Behavioral Flexibility: When discussing a person’s ability to adjust to new situations or challenges. 
  • Cultural Adjustments: Refers to the process by which immigrants adapt to the traditions of a new country. 
  • Creative Work: When discussing the adaptation of creative works, such as a book to film. 

See also: “Forward” vs “Foreword”: Main Differences & How to Use Both Correctly as a Writer

Using “Adopt”

Acceptance of Practices: When a corporation or organization takes up new procedures or guidelines. 

Bringing Home a Pet: The procedure of providing a home for a rescued or shelter animal. 

Legal Parenting is the statutory recognition of an individual or couple as parents of a child who was not born to them. 

Accepting Ideas: When individuals or groups embrace and implement new ideas or philosophies.

“Adopt” is always transitive and refers to a direct object, whereas “adapt” can be transitive or intransitive, implying that it may or may not refer to a direct object.

Here is an example unique to academic and technical writing for a better understanding.

  • Incorrect: We adapted Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution for our study. 
  • Correct: We adopted Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution for our study.

Adopt vs Adapt Examples


  • He adapted to living in a hotter climate after a few years.
  • When children change school, it usually takes them a while to adapt.
  • These fish all adapt easily to colder water.
  • She has adapted to college life quite easily.


  • The school adopted a new method of teaching further maths.
  • Their boss has recently adopted a professional attitude. 
  • Did he adopt your viewpoint? 
  • We adopted some of the church’s traditions. 

See also: “Self Publishing” vs “Traditional Publishing”: Main Differences & How to Use Both Correctly as a Writer


So, you can finally strike off adapt, and adopt from your list of ‘confusing words’ and prepare for the appreciation for using the most commonly confused words correctly always!

Remember: To adopt means to take as one’s own. To adapt means to adjust or accommodate.