Vocabulary: How to Use ‘Aggravate’ and ‘Annoy’

http://www.engvid.com/ English teachers sometimes get annoyed when native speakers mistake these two words. If you want to avoid aggravating this annoying habit, just click on this lesson and put your questions to rest. If you’re a native speaker, this lesson is also useful as a refresher, as it breaks down the essential misunderstanding many people have with these two common words. Take the quiz on this lesson here: http://www.engvid.com/vocabulary-aggravate-annoy/

Hi guys. I’m Alex. Thanks for clicking, and welcome to this vocabulary lesson on: “Annoy vs. Aggravate”. These two words are often confused, even by native speakers. And many native speakers don’t actually think there’s a difference between the two words. Well, today, I’m going to show you the difference between them.

So, very simply: “annoy” and “aggravate” are both verbs. They can also act as adjectives actually if you add: “ed” or: “ing” to them. But, “to annoy”, this word is the one that most people understand the meaning of it. So: “to irritate/to pester someone/to get on someone’s nerves”. Now, again, this… This is an idiomatic expression which means to annoy a person. So if I say: “She gets on my nerves”, she annoys me, irritates me, makes me “err”, angry because of something that she does or something he does.

Now, “aggravate”. Many people think that “aggravate” is actually a synonym for “annoy”, that it has the exact same meaning as “annoy”, and we use it the same way as “annoy”. This is actually incorrect. Now, “to aggravate” something means to make it worse. Okay? So, usually when you aggravate something it’s always a situation, a problem, a physical injury. Okay? So if you make something worse, a situation worse, a problem worse, a physical injury worse, you’re aggravating it. Okay? It’s not the same as annoy.

So, let’s look at the sentences and decide which word we should use to complete each one… Each sentence.
Now, the first one says:
“She annoyed/aggravated her injury.”
Now, if you were listening to me just now, you clearly know that here we should be using: “aggravate”. Right? She made her injury worse. So maybe she had a… A shoulder injury and she decided to do some really extreme exercise, and then: “Uhh”, her injury was aggravated. She aggravated her injury, she made it worse.

The second sentence says:
“Her uncle annoys/aggravates me so much!”
Now, if you’re a native speaker, you might think: “Well, you can use both of them. There’s nothing wrong with that.” Actually, there is something wrong with it if you want to get very technical and the meaning of the two words taken literally. You have to use: “annoy” in this situation. “Her uncle annoys me so much!” Irritates me. Okay?

Let’s continue:
“I always get annoyed/aggravated by him.”
So, again, this is similar to the second sentence where you’re talking about someone who is irritated by another person. Here, we’re seeing the adjective form. Right? So: “I always get annoyed or get aggravated, become aggravated or annoyed by him.” Really, we should be saying: “annoyed” which means irritated.

Next we have:
“He annoyed/aggravated the problem.”
So whatever the problem might be… Again, if you remember back to my initial explanation about aggravating problems, injuries, situations, you will know that here we should be using: “aggravate”. Okay? He made the problem worse.

“We were annoyed/aggravated by her insensitivity.”
Now, again, here, she made an insensitive comment, this really irritated us. Right? It didn’t make us worse. Although, again, if you really want to get technical: yeah, you could make a person worse, I suppose, but really “annoy” is the more common, more correct word that you should be using here.

“She’s always annoying/aggravating her friends.”
Now, is she making her friends worse or is she irritating them? I think in this situation, you… Your meaning most of the time when you’re saying a sentence like this means that she’s irritating them, pestering them, getting on their nerves. So: “She’s always annoying her friends.”

Now, let me talk about something with you guys. With words like this: “annoy” and “aggravate” where many native speakers don’t even know that there is a difference between the two words, if you say: “Oh, she aggravates me so much.” It is in common usage. Most English native speakers don’t know this rule, so if you misuse “aggravate” and mean “annoy” in your sentence, don’t feel too bad about it. Okay? Just know that, technically, there is a difference between the two words. We should not be using them interchangeably, although if you do, know that many native English speakers do the same thing.

So, if you’d like to test your understanding and really get the meaning of “annoy” and “aggravate”, you can check out the quiz on www.engvid.com. Good luck with that. Take care, and I’ll see you guys soon. Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel. See ya.

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