I have met real phrases with word "oppose" and combination "be opposed". And meaning of both looks similar. Is there actual difference between these two options?


Lincoln was opposed to slavery.

John Kerry opposed this idea.

What is the difference?

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    The difference is whether the word was used as an adjective or a verb. Lincoln was opposed (adjective) to slavery. John Kerry opposed (verb) this idea. – JayHook Jan 26 '15 at 2:56
  • Hi Andrey Epifantsev, welcome to the site! – ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq Jan 26 '15 at 2:59
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    If you oppose something or you you are opposed to something, there is no difference in meaning. – Khan Jan 26 '15 at 3:37

Statement 1

Lincoln was opposed to slavery

describes an attitude or belief.

Statement 2

John Kerry opposed this idea.

describes an action.

I can be opposed to something - i.e. think it's wrong, believe it should be changed - without actually doing anything active to stop it - e.g. voting against it, protesting etc.

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    That would be a good answer if you had said "I can BE OPPOSED TO something... – Brian Hitchcock Feb 26 '15 at 8:54
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    Exactly. That's why in the last sentence of your answer, when you speak of ". . . without actually doing anything to stop it. . . ", you meant "be opposed to". But instead you said "oppose". – Brian Hitchcock Feb 27 '15 at 9:54
  • If I want to say that two terms are different from each other, do I say that "the x term opposes to the y term" ? – V.Lydia Jan 19 '16 at 9:25

The difference would be action or state of being verb. Really, in the first sentence, the verb is was + predicate adjective. In the second sentence, the verb is opposed. State of being verbs include: is, are, was, and were.

  • I left out to be and being. – JimM Jun 4 '15 at 15:05

They have no difference in meaning, except word classes.

Definition of oppose by Merriam-Webster:

: to disagree with or disapprove of (something or someone)
: to compete against (someone) : to be an opponent of (someone)
: to try to stop or defeat (something)
opposed (past)

Definition of opposed by Merriam-Webster:

: not agreeing with or approving of something or someone
: completely different

You can also try to google for the definition of opposed if you do not believe it has another form, which is adjective.

Hence, the first sentence was describing her opposition but the second sentence was trying to convey the message that John Kerry had opposed the idea.

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