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Learners' Questions

Intermediate level

'Win', 'earn', or 'gain'?

Episode 200211 / 11 Feb 2020

This week's question

What's the difference between 'win', 'earn' and 'gain'? - Esraa

Answer this

Which of these three verbs is the irregular one?

Language points

Win - 1st place
can mean 'achieve 1st place in a competition, contest, fight, argument, bet, attempt etc'. Its verb forms are win, won, (have) won.

  • My team won the football match 3-0!

Win - get 
can mean 'get something that other people are trying to get'. This is useful in a business context. We talk about winning an order, contract or 'the right to' do something.

  • The most successful contract will win the right to build the bridge.

Win - gain support
Win can mean 'gain someone's support'. We talk about winning support, approval, the heart of someone or winning someone over.

  • The politicians speech won over the hostile crowd and they started cheering. 

Earn - receive money
can mean 'receive an amount of money in exchange for your work. Its verb forms are earn, earned, (have) earned. People earn money or earn a living - they make money to survive.

  • I could never earn a living as a translator, because I'm not fluent in any other language.

Earn - receive profit
Earn can mean 'receive as profit' in a business context. Companies, shares and accounts can earn.

  • So far, the movie has earned £3million.

Earn - something deserved
Earn can mean 'receive something deserved'. You can earn praise, respect or earn your place at work. 

  • After this video, I've earned a nice cup of tea.

Gain - obtain something positive
Gain can mean 'get or obtain something positive'. We talk about gaining support, an advantage or confidence. 

  • I was nervous in my first video, but since then, I've gained confidence.

Gain - increase
can mean 'increase in amount'. Things can gain height, weight, speed, value etc.

  • My jeans are tight. Have I gained weight?

Gain - popularity
can mean 'become more popular'. Things, such as ideas or movements, can gain ground, traction or popularity.

  • Veganism is gaining ground as more people become vegan.

The answer

Win! Its forms are win, won and (have) won.

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