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?

  • 1
    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, 2015 at 2:56
  • Hi Andrey Epifantsev, welcome to the site! Jan 26, 2015 at 2:59
  • 1
    If you oppose something or you you are opposed to something, there is no difference in meaning.
    – Khan
    Jan 26, 2015 at 3:37

3 Answers 3


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.

  • 1
    That would be a good answer if you had said "I can BE OPPOSED TO something... Feb 26, 2015 at 8:54
  • 2
    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". Feb 27, 2015 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, 2016 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, 2015 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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