Writing for Business

Feb 23 2015   5:00PM GMT

Utilizing pomodori: use vs. utilize

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore


Which is correct?

Francesco Cirillo developed the pomodoro technique in the late 1980s, when he _______ his tomato-shaped kitchen timer to organize his work schedule.   

a. utilized

b. used

Answer: Either.

To utilize something is to use that thing for a different purpose than its intended one. A kitchen timer is designed for culinary purposes and Cirillo’s application was somewhat innovative, so we could certainly justify the use of utilize. However, use is not incorrect.

Be careful, though — this is a one-way deal. Even when utilize is the more precise choice, you can always substitute use. However, if you’re using something for the purpose it was designed to fill, utilize is incorrect.

Learn more about use vs. utilize and McGyver, past master of utilization.

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