I don't mind which one we have – you choose.

Can I use "select" instead of "choose" in that sentence?

You can elect to delete the message or save it.

Can I use "select" instead of "elect" in that sentence?

Are they synonyms? Which one is stronger than the other?

  • 1
    What do you mean by "stronger"? I can't easily imagine any context where the action being referenced by any of these alternatives could be strengthened or weakened in any meaningful way by the specific verb used to describe it. Jun 25, 2014 at 21:40

3 Answers 3


In the first and second sentence, it would not be wrong to use select but it would be uncommon. Select is rarely used as a verb. Most of the time you see "Select" you see it in its noun form "Selection."

The times when it is acceptable to use "Select" as a verb are when the options are part of a defined set. You can only select something that is part of the set available to you. Example: I have two books and I select/choose one to read (finite possible choices of books). I am walking and choose/elect to turn left (infinite possible choices of direction).

Quick guide:

  • If you picking from a set, use "Select"
  • If you have infinite possibilities use "Elect"
  • If you're not sure use "Choose."
  • Unless you know better, I've elected to delete the first two words, since there's no reason to restrict this to "American English". Jun 25, 2014 at 21:34
  • 1
    Did you mean "cannot select an action?" To turn left isn't abstract.
    – Kaz
    Jun 26, 2014 at 0:43
  • Maybe it would have been better to say you use "Select" when there are finite options. Left is one direction in the infinite set of angles one could chose to walk so select would be incorrect; however, if given the finite set of options {left, right, backwards} one would select their direction. I'll edit the original to reflect the change.
    – Ian Leith
    Jun 26, 2014 at 16:07

For #1, rather than changing the word to "select," I'd recommend "pick":

I don't mind which movie we watch – you pick.

For the second one, I'd probably use "opt" before I used "select":

You can opt to delete the message or save it.

I don't think select is any stronger, but I do think it's a bit more formal. For example, I'd expect an ATM to instruct me to "select" an option, not "pick" an option.


In Technical Documentation, I would prefer to differentiate the word - Select and Choose based on the following contexts:

I will use Select when I'm directing the user to select from a list available. For example: Select the option from the drop-down list.

I will use Choose when I'm directing the user to choose an option from the user interface so that he gets done his task. For example: Choose the Finish option to exit the installation.

Basically, the difference is that - use the word Select when there is a List, or Drop-Down, check box selection, and Radio Button and user can select any those freely as per their wish to execute the task.

And, use the word Choose when you are conveying the user to do a specific action to achieve their objective.

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