Light up, Lighten up, or Enlighten?

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600+ Confusing English Words Explained

Today’s student question: What’s the difference between light up, lighten up, and enlighten? These have some meanings you might not expect.

Light up can mean for a light to turn on, or to make an area brighter – the Christmas decorations are lighting up the whole house.

But we also say a person lights up when they suddenly become excited and cheerful. People often light up when they start talking about a topic they’re very interested in.

Lighten up is an informal expression meaning to take things less seriously. If you and your friend are going to travel to another country but your friend is very anxious and focused on the details, you could say “Lighten up, everything will be fine.” You’re telling them to be more relaxed and happy.

To enlighten someone is to give them knowledge – this could be plain facts, or it could be some sort of deeper understanding. There might be an advertising campaign to enlighten people about the dangers of smoking, for example.

Hope that helps, thanks for the great question! And click on the link below to download 30 more “ask the teacher” lessons.

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Light up, Lighten up, or Enlighten? Espresso English

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