Wondering what the difference is between ‘plaintiff’ and ‘defendant’? And which one should you use in your writing? We’ll answer both in detail below, plus teach you how to use them in a sentence correctly.
In short, the difference between the two is:
As you can see, they mean different things and should not be used interchangeably.
You might have heard the terms ‘defendant’ and ‘plaintiff’ when reading about legal matters.
The ‘defendant’ in a case is the one who must ‘defend’ their actions and show the courts that they haven’t committed a crime or wrongful act.
The ‘plaintiff’ has to prove that the ‘defendant’ has actually committed a crime or wrongful act and that it has harmed them in some way.
As you can see, these words are opposites, so they shouldn't be used interchangeably.
In civil case law, the ‘plaintiff’ has the burden of proof, which means it’s their job to prove that the ‘defendant’ is responsible or at fault with evidence.
In criminal case law, the state has the burden of proof. That means the state has to provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed certain acts.
The Merriam-Webster definition of a ‘plaintiff’ is a person who brings legal action.
The same dictionary defines ‘defendant’ as a person or group against whom a criminal or civil action is brought. In other words, it’s someone who’s being sued or accused of committing a crime.
Wondering how to pronounce these words? Here’s a short guide.
Now that you know what the words mean and how to pronounce them, let’s see some examples of how to use them in a sentence. Let’s start with ‘plaintiff.’
Now let’s see some examples of how to use ‘defendant.’
To recap, we learned that the ‘plaintiff’ is someone who’s suing someone, and the ‘defendant’ is someone who’s being sued. We know that they’re opposites rather than synonyms, so they shouldn’t be used interchangeably.
If you ever get stuck on spelling or usage, don’t be afraid to pop back over to refresh your memory. We’ve got a ton of other content on confusing words and phrases you might see while learning the language. Feel free to check it out anytime.