Difference between Invent and Discover

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  • Post last modified:08/07/2021
  • Post category:Real English
  • Reading time:5 mins read

What is the difference between invent and discover? Even advanced English language students often find these two verbs confusing. 

Learn how to use invent and discover in English in this short advanced English lesson. 

Table of Contents

difference between invent and discover

Hi, there welcome to Harry’s words and phrases and English in a minute.

Somebody has asked me to explain the difference between invent and discover

They are synonymous, and they can often be used similarly, but they do have some specific differences.

Intermediate to Advanced English Marathon

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

INSANITY: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.


When we talk about ‘invent’, it’s about innovation. Something new, something that somebody has developed that has never happened before.

For example, when the mobile phone was invented, it wasn’t something they found under the bed or in a cupboard. It was something new, some new technology so it was invented, it was created.

difference between invent and discover

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But when we talk about ‘discover’, it’s something that has been found. It has existed for a long time but has recently been found.

For example, when they first discovered gold, it wasn’t that somebody invented it. It was there in the ground, and they had to dig a hole and find it, or as they panned for it in the river.

The same as oil or gas, it was discovered when they drilled a hole; and the oil came out of it gas escaped.

difference between invent and discover

So when we talk about discovery, we’re finding something.

And when we talk about invention, we are making something. We are making something that we never had before. Finding something that had been lost or not previously discovered, or has been uncovered.

Hopefully, that explains the difference between invent and discover.

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How to use invent and discover

The Chinese invented the first printing press hundreds of years ago.

Children sometimes invent imaginary friends in their minds.
When you invent something original, you must protect it by taking out a patent.
The scientific community are always trying to invent improvements for modern medicine.
Stay at home and discover your local area.
When I had a simple medical examination, the doctor discovered a problem with my heart.
Adventurers centuries ago discovered foreign lands and unknown continents.
I decided to create a family tree to discover information about my ancestors.

More information

For more information on English grammar rules, English collocations and English idioms, check out the links below:

English idioms about relationships

IELTS speaking part tips

Don’t forget to check out intermediate and advanced English vocabulary materials at the British Council website.


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