Can anyone explain which context requires to use the adjective quiet and when I should use silent instead?

  • 1
    Welcome to ELL. Can you expand your question with some examples of context that make the difference confusing to you? This has the makings of a good and potentially useful question. Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 15:14
  • Keep silent/keep quiet both mean "don't talk/open your mouth"
    – user17905
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 16:13

1 Answer 1


Silence is the absence of sound. It's an absolute adjective, so people don't usually say something is very silent or silenter unless they're playing with words. If something makes no noise at all, it's silent.

Quiet means something is not very loud. It's not an absolute adjective, so you can say something is quieter than something else. If you're comparing several cars, you can say the one which makes the least noise is the quietest.

How do you decide which word to use?

  • Use silent if there is no sound.

  • Use quiet if there's sound, but it's not very loud.

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