Effective – Efficient – They mean different things in English

What is effective? and What is efficient? The answer to these questions will probably be different. Learn about the different meanings of the words effective and efficient. This lesson is going to be really useful if you’re learning business English for your career.

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Effective and Efficient video script

Here are some strong sleeping tablets, but don’t take them until you go to be. Why not? They’re very effective. Hmmm.
They can’t be that effective.

The meanings of these words are different in English. Some languages have one word that covers them both, but in English we have two.
So can you be efficient without being effective? Yes, and in this video we’ll find out how.

I start my day with a cup of coffee. Then I go online and see what’s happening on Facebook.
I start the day by setting priorities. I look at the list of jobs I have to do and work out which ones are most important. It makes me more efficient.

So the second guy didn’t waste time and he was more organized. That’s what efficiency is about.

The office secretary – that alert efficient person who plays such a vital role in the world of business. Promptness. Neatness. Orderliness.

Efficiency is about how we do things. Effectiveness is different. It’s about the things we do and how successful they are.

The drain’s blocked.
I’m gonna try and fix it with this.
Did this stuff work?
It was very effective.

So effectiveness is about results – achieving what we want to achieve. And if something doesn’t get results then it’s not effective.

We’re training Carter to be more helpful around the house. Carter, get my slippers. Carter, get my slippers.
So far the training hasn’t been very effective.

Now it stands to reason that if we’re efficient, we’ll often be effective too.
If we work in a quick and organized way, we generally get good results. But it’s not always the case.

Stop!
Oh, it’s more efficient.

So we found a more efficient way of working here. It was quicker and it required less energy. But was it an effective way of working? Probably not.
To be effective, the job itself would have to deliver results. And that job didn’t look very useful or important.
An important part of efficiency is the idea of no waste. No waste of time, money or energy.
Machines can make us more efficient because they can speed up work and do things more cheaply.
And we can also talk about how efficient a machine or piece of equipment is.

This is the heat exchanger for our house. It removes hot air in the summer and cold air in the winter.
It doesn’t cost a lot to run. It makes a lot of noise but it’s very efficient.

We can also say a piece of equipment is effective, but then we’re talking about something different.
Instead of talking about the way it operates, we’re talking about how well it does the job we want it to do.

Our windows are dirty so I’ve bought a new tool to clean them. Let’s try it out. Great results! It’s very effective.

Now what about money? You’ll remember that something can be efficient if it saves money.
Is it the same with effective. Does money matter? And the answer is ‘no’. Effectiveness is just about the results, not money.
But we do have a phrase we use when money is important. See if you can spot it.

Why don’t we buy rechargable batteries?
Because they cost more.
Yes, but they’re more cost effective in the long term.
What do you mean?
Well, after you’ve bought five of these you could pay for a rechargable battery.
I have to think about that.

Did you spot the phrase? Cost effective means delivering the best possible results for the lowest possible cost.
It’s about ROI – return in investment – what you get back from spending money.
So let’s recap. Efficient – doing things in a quick, cheap and organized way. And effective – achieving what you set out to do.
If this video has been effective you now know the difference between these two words.
And if it’s been efficient, you’ve wasted no time or energy. Hey, maybe you’ve got time to watch some more of our videos.

Vicki’s mad at me. So how was your day?
Don’t talk to me. I’m very cross with you.
Would you like some tea?
No thank you.
Flowers.
Humph!
Let me give you a foot rub.
Oh? A foot rub? Oooo, that’s lovely. I love you.
I love you too. Foot rubs are very effective.

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