My friend and I are arguing about which word is best to be used in a sentence that he wrote to me, it read,

"I just wanted you to realize the progress that is taking place."

The saturation also matters because, he lives half way across the US and it's not like we talk 24/7, more along the lines of every once in a while, so it's not like I would know what happens in his day-to-day life. Therefore, I believe 'inform' would better suit the context in which the situation resides. Then reading,

"I just wanted to inform you of the progress that is taking place."

Personally, I believe using ' to realize' means that I would have already known about the situation and maybe was oblivious to it, which again is not the case. The case is that I didn't know about it and he was then informing me of it. What do you guys think?

  • So, your point is realize implies that you've already known it, but didn't notice it; and using realize when you didn't know anything about it is incorrect? Dec 13, 2016 at 17:41
  • 1
    "The saturation also matters" - I'm not sure what you mean by saturation. Maybe you meant situation? Anyway, I agree that inform has an implication that you did not know about it before, but both phrasings are acceptable, they just mean slightly different things. "I want to inform you" means I am telling you; "I want you to realize" means that I want your mental state to change. There's no reason you couldn't even use both: "I am informing you because I want you to realize..."
    – stangdon
    Dec 13, 2016 at 17:56

3 Answers 3


I think it's two ways of saying the same thing. If I give you an apple, you have an apple. If you receive an apple from me, you have an apple.

In the same way, if I inform you of something (give you information), you know about it. Or if you realize something (receive and understand some information), you still know about it.

Let's go back to the apple.

I want to give you this apple.

I want you to have this apple.

Two ways to express an action where the end result is that you have an apple.

However, there is a difference in nuance between "inform" and "realize". To realize something doesn't just mean to receive information. It also means to understand the context of the information. I can inform you of something, but you might still not realize its importance.

So when your friend says "I want you to realize ..." he's not just saying that he wants to tell you about it, but that he wants you to understand how that information fits into the context of the conversation. Some examples:

I want to inform you that I'm not your enemy.

This is a neutral sentence. I'm telling you something, but it seems like I have no interest in whether you believe it or not.

I want you to realize that I'm not your enemy.

Here, I care about the result. I really want you to believe what I'm saying. It doesn't say that you should have already known something, but rather that you should know something.

If instead you want to express this in a neutral way, you might say:

I want you to know that I'm not your enemy.

Now I'm saying you should be aware of something, but there's much less hope whether you will believe it.


The two words certainly have different meanings.

"Inform" takes his perspective, in the same sense that "deliver a lecture" takes the teacher's rather than the students' (for which reason I always, as a psychologist, respond to teachers by saying "well, you did ship the lecture, but how do you know that you delivered it?".

So he could "inform" you (ship you the information) without making it clear enough that you'd "realise" (take in, understand fully, apprehend) what he's on about.


Realize X can mean to become aware of X.

X inform(s)(ed) Y about Z means X tell(s)/told Y about Z.

"I just wanted you to realize the progress that is taking place." = I just wanted you to look around and see the progress that is taking place.

"I just wanted to inform you of the progress that is taking place." = I just wanted to tell you about the progress that is taking place (you may or may not be actually looking at the progress in question.)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .