What’s the Difference Between MUTUAL and COMMON?



Download Podcast Transcript – PDF

What’s the Difference Between MUTUAL and COMMON?

The words mutual and common are synonyms. However, there is a difference. Learn how to use these words accurately by watching this video.

Slide 1:
Hello, I’m David James.

Slide 2:
What’s the difference between mutual and common?

Slide 3:
While COMMON refers to something shared, MUTUAL often refers to something shared that involves feelings, emotions, experiences.

Slide 4:
In the examples that follow, note how the word MUTUAL refers to the sharing of:
• friendship
• feelings
• love and respect
• contempt
• interests
(The word COMMON isn’t so appropriate in these sentences)

Slide 5:
The picture shows three friends drinking from a glass.
The sentence reads: The two of them met through a mutual friend.

Slide 6:
In this picture we see two friends hugging each other.
When they finally met after a long time their feelings were mutual.

Slide 7:
The picture shows an older married couple dancing at their 50th anniversary celebration.
The sentence reads: They said the secret to their reaching 50 years of married life was mutual love and respect.

Slide 8:
The picture shows two office colleagues arguing in a meeting.
The sentence reads: As long as there is this mutual contempt there will never be peace in the office.

Slide 9:
In the next example, MUTUAL or COMMON can be used:

Slide 10:
The picture shows a group of cyclists.
The sentence reads: Although they came from diverse backgrounds, they had a mutual interest in cycling.

Slide 11:
The next picture is the same and the sentence reads:
The sentence reads: Although they came from diverse backgrounds, they had a common interest in cycling.

Slide 12:
In the following examples notice how the word COMMON refers to something shared in relation to:
• common ground (points of agreement)
• common knowledge
• common enemy
(The word MUTUAL isn’t so appropriate in these sentences)

Slide 13:
The picture shows two US soldiers and a Moslem man in a discussion.
The sentence reads: They practiced their negotiating skills by trying to find a point of agreement, or common ground.

Slide 14:
The picture shows a man in an office putting his arm on the shoulder of his colleague.
The sentence reads: “You didn’t know? I thought their office romance was common knowledge!”

Slide 15:
The final picture shows an elephant, a rhinoceros, and a hunting rifle.
The sentence reads: The elephant and the rhino have a common enemy – the poacher!

Slide 16:
In Conclusion
While the terms MUTUAL and COMMON can be used interchangeably in some cases, remember to use MUTUAL if you are referring to something shared that involves friendship, feelings and emotions.

Slide 17:
Just before we finish, let me tell you about my online course for English students who find the articles a, an, and the, confusing. It’s called: “How to Master Definite | Indefinite Articles in 7 Days!”
Just go to http://goodenglish.online and check it out!

Learning to use words correctly is essential to good English. Check out this page:
What’s the Difference Between an IDEA and an OPINION?

Image Credits

Slide 5 - 3 people
Creative Commons

Slide 6 - 2 friends
Creative Commons

Slide 7 - married couple
Creative Commons

Slide 8 - office argument
Free Use
franky242 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Slides 10 & 11 – cyclists
Creative Commons

Slide 13 – soldiers negotiating
Creative Commons

Slide 14 - office romance
Free Use
photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Slide 15 - elephant and rhino
Free Use
elephant: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
rhino: stockphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Creative Commons License: