I am confused with the words "use", "employ" and "utilize".

What is the difference in their meanings, and where they are supposed to be used? There is another topic with the same question, but it is poorly explained.

Could it be used in the title of articles as in the examples below?

Utilizing the advantages of Google mail.

Employing external phone numbers in corporate phone system.

  • If there is another question that hasn't attracted answers, don't repost it. Rather, edit it to get more attention for it or add a bounty.
    – ColleenV
    Dec 14, 2018 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


"Utilizing an advantage" is may be grammatical but it is not idiomatic, and I have no idea what it would mean to "employ a phone number". That which is used, employed, or utilized should be a tool, implement, device, or instrument of some kind, something which can be wielded, literally or figuratively.

Let's use this key to see if it works.

We can use her to get to him.

We can make (good) use of Google mail because of its various features. We can put them to use. We can take advantage of those features. We can use Google Mail to good advantage.

It's grammatical, but we cannot employ or utilize advantages, not without sounding a little vacant:

We can utilize our advantage to our advantage.

  • Can you explain the difference between the words? And why cannot we use or employ phone numbers?
    – Gamilato
    Dec 14, 2018 at 14:14
  • The question is too broad. They have different meanings in different contexts. My advice: avoid utilize altogether. use will always work there. With respect to employ, if you're speaking of a person/hireling, use employ. If you're speaking of the person as if they were a tool, use use.
    – TimR
    Dec 14, 2018 at 14:44
  • Anonymous downvoter, reveal your reasoning. Your anonymity is tiresome and cowardly.
    – TimR
    Dec 14, 2018 at 15:11

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