Main Difference – Answer vs Reply
Both answer and reply can be defined as something spoken or written in reply to a question. Although these two words, answer, and reply are often used as synonyms, there is a subtle difference between them based on their usage. The main difference between answer and reply is that answer refers to a solution to a question whereas reply merely refers to a response to a question; reply does not necessarily refer to a solution. In simple words, a reply may not provide a solution to a question whereas an answer does.
This article explains,
1.What is an Answer – Definition, Meaning and Examples of Usage
2.What is a Reply – Definition, Meaning and Examples of Usage
3. Difference Between Answer and Reply – Comparison of Answer and Reply
Answer – Meaning and Usage
According to the Oxford dictionary, an answer is a “thing that is said, written, or done as a reaction to a question, statement, or situation”. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “something spoken or written in reply to a question”. Both these definitions emphasize the connection between question and answer. Merriam-Webster dictionary further explains the meaning of answer by stating that answer is the correct response to a question and a response to a question that is meant to show whether or not you know something.
Recall a test you sat for. You must have written answers to the questions in the test paper. When we are talking about the questions in a test or exam, we usually use the term answer, not reply. The following examples will further explain the general usage of this word.
He doesn’t answer his phone.
Do you know the answer to the question?
The answers are listed on the board.
She didn’t give a straight answer to my question.
He has an answer for everything.
Reply – Meaning and Usage
Reply is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as something said, written, or done as an answer or response and “verbal or written answer” by the Oxford dictionary. Neither of these definitions indicate a difference between answer and reply. But, this does not mean that there is no difference between the two words. Look at the following example to understand this difference.
A: Where is the railway station?
B: I’m sorry, I don’t know.
B gives a reply or response to A’s question. But does B really provide an answer to A’s question? No. An answer would have included the directions to the railway station.
Thus, reply can refer to any response. It doesn’t have to provide a solution to a question necessarily. The following examples will further explain the general usage of this word.
I received a reply from the HR manager.
“No, thank you,” he replied curtly.
I wrote a brief note in reply to her letter.
He didn’t give me time to reply to his accusations.
Difference Between Answer and Reply
Answer is a thing written or said in reaction to a question or situation.
Reply is a response to a written or verbal statement.
Answer can be a solution to a situation.
Reply does not refer to a solution to a situation.
Solving a Question
Answer solves the question.
Reply does not solve the question.