I do not know how to use the expression find out, I had read that I need to use instead discover, but it does not mean always.

For example, what is the best example?

I found out that she is single


I discovered that she is single

  • 1
    If you I found out [some fact was true], that tends to imply you made some effort to obtain the information - in contrast to I found [it was true], which is more likely in contexts where the information came to you by happenstance (cf ferret out, turn out.) To discover something implies nothing one way or the other in that respect (and you can't add a preposition to "nudge" the meaning towards either possibility). Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 17:18
  • Actually I was thinking that found out can be very much a passive thing.
    – shawnt00
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 2:49

4 Answers 4


In your example, you can use either. I would say find out is a bit less formal.

There is a difference in meaning though, and in some cases the words are not interchangeable. You can only find out a fact, but you can discover anything that can be perceived.

For example:

I found out that I'm pregnant.

Did you find out whether it's going to rain tomorrow?

I discovered a $20 bill under a rock.

I discovered confidence in myself that I never thought I had.

There is a slightly different usage in to be found out, an idiomatic expression meaning to be exposed or caught.


Find derives from proto-Germanic languages, and its original form was finthan, which means "to come upon, discover". Find out is an expression that came from Middle English outfinden which means "to discover by scrutiny" (discover by deep analysis). (source)

Discover is a word derived from Latin dis- "opposite of" + cooperire "to cover up". Once it had a sense of betrayal or malicious exposure, but nowadays, since the 1550s, it means "to obtain knowledge or sight of what was not known". (source)

Both words/expressions are equivalent in meaning, but in a casual speech, it's much more likely to hear find out than discover, since the latter has Latin origins, which can be classified as "fancy word", used mainly in Courts of Justice or in formal conversations with authorities.


Find out implies what you were looking for is already known or exists.
Discover implies finding something new.

You can find out about things that have been already discovered.
Once you discover something, you can find out more about it through research.

  • Short, succinct, yet clear enough! +1 Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 19:18
  • 1
    You can discover something that is new to you, even if others knew about it already. For instance, I might go down to the brewery and discover a new beer I like.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 23:48
  • And we can presume how you find out more about it! :)
    – Peter
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 23:49

I think find out is use when there is a definite thing to look; while discover is finding something without definitely looking for it or it may be finding something accidentally or incidentally. example: The police will find out the thief. Magellan discovered(or rediscovered)the Philippines while on his way to find the Spice Island.

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