‘Emend' vs 'Amend': What’s the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on January 7, 2023

Should you ‘amend’ a contract or ‘emend’ one? What’s the difference between these two words, and how should you use each? We’ll discuss that later in this article. And you’ll also learn how to use both words correctly in a sentence.

The short answer is that ‘emend’ means to make changes and improvements to a text.

‘Amend’ means to change for the better or to alter by adding to a text, but it can also be used to describe improvements made to other things. ‘Emend’ can only be used when referring to a text or piece of writing.

‘Amend’ vs. ‘Emend’ - What’s the Difference?

We just learned that the difference between the two words is that ‘emend’ means to make changes and improvements to a text. While ‘amend’ can mean the same thing, it also can refer to changes or improvements made to other things (outside of a piece of writing or text). The words are considered homophones or words that sound the same but mean different things.

Now that we know the difference between the two words let’s take a closer look at the definition and meaning of each one.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Emend’

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘emend’ is: “to correct usually by textual alterations.” 

Definition and Meaning of ‘Amend’

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘amend’ is: “to put right, especially: to make emendations in (something, such as a text),” “to change or modify (something) for the better: improve,” “to alter especially in phraseology, especially: to alter formally by modification, deletion, or addition,” and “to reform oneself.”

Synonyms of the word include:

  • Ameliorate
  • Enrich
  • Meliorate
  • Upgrade
  • Better
  • Help
  • Perfect
  • Enhance
  • Improve
  • Refine
  • Correct
  • Rectify
  • Remedy
  • Redress
  • Revise

Understanding Homophones

A homophone is a word that sounds the same as another word, but both words mean different things.

In the case of 'amend' and 'emend,' they sound identical, but they mean different things, as you just learned.

Take a look at a few examples of other homophones that sound the same but mean something totally different.

  • Here/Here
  • There/their/they're
  • Affect/effect
  • To/Two/Too
  • Principal/principle

How to Use ‘Emend’ in a Sentence

Now that you know what both words mean, let’s look at how to use them in a sentence.

  • We had to emend the report that you submitted due to a few minor errors.
  • Your need to emend every piece of correspondence is quite frankly annoying.
  • She didn’t want to emend her paper, but her professor insisted.
  • You have to fulfill your job duties, which means you have to emend the policies and procedures manual.

How to Use ‘Amend’ in a Sentence

Now let’s see some examples of how to use ‘amend’ in a sentence.

  • Our organization had to amend its agreement with our newest client.
  • Let’s amend this contract before we send it off to the partners.
  • We might have to amend this proposal before we send it to our clients.
  • Congress plans to amend several acts this year.

Final Thoughts on ‘Emend’ vs. ‘Amend’

You’ve learned what both words mean and what the difference is between them. You’ve also seen examples of how to use them both in a sentence correctly. You should feel confident enough to use them on your own in your everyday writing.

But if you ever need help again, you can always come back here for a quick refresher.

Stuck on a different word? We’ve got a whole library of content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases in the English language.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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