Avoid vs Afford and Avoid vs Evade: Any Difference?

Avoid vs Afford and Avoid vs Evade: Any Difference?

Welcome to this page! I am sure you are learning a lot under our Common Errors Category. I would like to show you by this post titled, Avoid vs Afford and Avoid vs Evade: Any Difference?, words that most users of English confuse due to lack of proper understanding on what they mean and how to use them. It was the German Physicist, Werner Heisenberg who said, ‘An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them’. So let us learn some of the mistakes people make with these words and avoid them.

Avoid vs Afford and Avoid vs Evade: Any Difference?

Many users of English as a Second Language, especially in Nigeria, confuse these words. They use ‘avoid’ in the place of ‘afford’ and vice-versa. It is more of a problem of mother tongue interference or accent. Understanding clearly the meanings of ‘avoid’ and ‘afford’ will prevent this confusion.

Avoid vs Afford

What Does Avoid Mean?

Avoid is a transitive verb that means keeping away or not going near someone or something. For instance:

  • The area is a place you must avoid.
  • She carefully avoided answering questions about her marriage.
  • I avoid fizzy drinks by all means.

It also means to manage not to do something or prevent something. For example:

  • The car narrowly avoided colliding with the bus.
  • He avoids being seen with any woman in public.
  • The actor avoids going around with cash on him.

What Does Afford Mean?

Afford, also a transitive verb, means to be able to buy something, be able to do something or be able to spare something. For instance:

  • She can afford to buy a house rather than build one.
  • We cannot afford the cost of air travel.
  • I can afford to let you use the car.
  • They cannot afford to lose the game.

It also means to provide or supply something. For example:

  • The trip will afford you the opportunity to see him.
  • The holiday will afford you the much-needed rest.

 So take note of these two words when you have to use them so as to avoid any confusion. Let us consider the other pair…

Avoid vs Evade

Still on the issue of confusion, the words ‘avoid’ and ‘evade’ also confuse many people. Some, however, know the difference, but when it comes to appropriate use based on appropriate context, their own confusion begins. But not to worry, we are here to clear the confusion. Let us begin by looking at the word ‘evade’.


It is a transitive verb that has different shades of meaning. Let us see some of them:

To cleverly escape or avoid somebody or something, usually by ingenuity or guile, dexterity or stratagem.

See these examples:

  • She likes to evade cooking.
  • When it comes to cleaning the house, he evades his responsibility.
  • They evaded the dog and jumped over the fence.
  • Whites evaded being seen with blacks in Apartheid South Africa.
  • The thieves have been evading arrest until now.

To avoid doing something unpleasant, especially something that is a moral or legal obligation.

Examples include:

  • The company was found to have evaded tax for five years.
  • The mischievous boys evade getting bus tickets.
  • Children sometimes evade using drugs.
  • Many public officials evade declaring their assets.
  • She evades going for a medical check-up.

To give an indirect response or to avoid dealing with or responding directly to something.

For instance:

  • She evades talking about her failed marriage.
  • He evaded the answer to how many wives he has.
  • Most public figures evade personal questions posed to the by journalists.
  • Politicians are good at evading probing questions.
  • The president evaded questions on how much he spent abroad.

To be unattainable to somebody, to be difficult or impossible for somebody to find, obtain, or achieve.

See the following examples:

  • He wondered why fortune always evaded him.
  • Good jobs always evaded the lazy ones.
  • World Cup has always evaded some countries.
  • Winning the league title has evaded Arsenal for many seasons.

Is ‘Evade’ same as ‘Avoid’?

‘Evade’ is synonymous to ‘avoid’; but in the componential analysis of the two words, one has a negative undertone while the other does not. So which is which? The main difference between ‘avoid’ and ‘evade’ is that in terms of tone, ‘avoid’ is neutral. In the case of ‘evade’, it implies dishonesty or deception, or at least some measure of duplicity or ulterior motive.

If you avoid a responsibility, you take measures to prevent it from being necessary, but if you evade a responsibility, you get out of it using an underhanded, sneaky, devious or deceitful way.

More Difference: Avoid and Evade

Another difference between ‘avoid’ and ‘evade’ is that a verbal noun can follow avoid but it is only an ordinary noun that accompanies ‘evade’. See the following examples:

  • We avoided having to pay.
  • We evaded payment.
  • She avoids going to school regularly.
  • She evades school regularly.
  • The company avoids paying its full tax.
  • They evaded payment of fuel tax.

Evade vs Elude

‘Elude’, closely related to ‘evade’ implies clever or ingenious avoidance, dodging, circumvention or averting of a situation or someone. Take for example:

  • We eluded them by hiding in the bush.
  • The thief is skilful at eluding the police.
  • The children eluded their parents and went to their neighbour’s house.
  • The mice eluded all the traps I set for them.

 It also has an extended meaning, to escape perception, discovery, understanding or grasp of, baffle, as in:

  • The solution eluded her.
  • His title eludes me.
  • The victory continued to elude the team.
  • The problem eludes explanation.

I am sure you have learnt something useful from this post. Don’t forget the words of Werner Heisenberg, be an expert! See you around.

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