First of all, I would like to say that I’m a portuguese person trying to improve my english, so I apologize if I’m saying something wrong okay? Well my doubt is about the word “screw up”, “damage”, “spoil”, “ruin”... I saw in a dictionary app that all these words have the same meaning. I would like to know whats the diferences between each one and how to use it in the sentences. Thank you.
One important distinction is that screw up does not require an object; both of these are valid:
- I screwed up (by forgetting my appointment).
- I screwed up the gadget (by pushing the lever too far).
The other three verbs require an object; you can say "I damaged the clock" but not "I damaged." —Except that spoil is intransitive as applied to food.
A thing that is damaged or spoiled may still be usable for its original purpose, but a thing that is ruined is not.
damage emphasizes harm to a thing's physical nature; spoil emphasizes impairment of its usefulness.
- The refrigerator was damaged, and the food in it was spoiled (or: the food spoiled).
- My shoulder was somehow damaged many years ago. It is spoiled for some purposes, such as weightlifting; but I would not say it is ruined, as the damage does not seriously impair my ordinary activities.