Hello! This week on Ask a Teacher, we will answer a question about the difference between “still” and “yet.”
I am delighted to write you this email. I am hoping that I will get some good explanations about using similar words such as “still” and “yet.”
Looking forward to reading the answer!
Arios from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Thank you for writing to us. We still have not covered this subject.
“Still” and “yet” have very different meanings and uses, yet in some situations, they can be used in the same way.
Let us begin by looking at “still.”
Although “still” can be an adjective, noun or verb, we often use it as an adverb. As an adverb, “still” describes an action that began in the past and continues into the present. We often use it before the base verb.
She still talks with her college friends years later.
I have been eating all day, but I’m still hungry!
Using “still” in negative statements means that the action should change, but it has not.
I still haven't finished cleaning. There is just too much to do.
Let's move on to “yet.”
“Yet” can be either an adverb or a conjunction, which links two clauses together.
As an adverb “yet” refers to an action that has not happened but is expected. Someone might be waiting for it to happen. We often use it with negative statements.
As a conjunction “yet” means “but at the same time.”
Let us look at a few examples:
You want to get the project done, yet you also want to be fair with everyone involved.
They aimed to honor the establishment of the policy, yet it had many shortcomings that left members unsure.
Both of these sentences contain two clauses involving action that is taking place at the same time.
Other uses as a conjunction can show difference:
The sun is out, yet it is very cold.
“Yet” is used to create a contrast and combine the clauses into one sentence.
“Yet” can also be used as an adverb:
I have yet to receive my package.
In this case, the person is waiting for their package to arrive.
Have you made dinner yet, Faith?
No, I haven’t. I’ve been too busy working.
“Yet” is often used at the end of the statement or question.
Yet and still
Both “yet’ and “still” can be used in the same way when talking about situations in the past using negative statements that continue into the present.
He still has not returned my phone call.
He has not returned my phone call yet.
Note that “still” goes before the verb and “yet” is at the end of the sentence.
Some native speakers notice a slightly different tone when saying these words aloud. If “still” is used, this could be a sign of being upset or impatient with the situation, especially if “still” is emphasized while speaking. As in:
He still has not returned my phone call.
Please let us know if these explanations have helped you, Arios!
What question do you have about American English? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
And that’s Ask a Teacher.
I’m Faith Pirlo.
And I'm Jill Robbins.
Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
negative – n. a word or statement that means “no” or that expresses a denial or refusal
clause – n. grammar: a part of a sentence that has its own subject and verb
contrast –n. a difference between things or the act of comparing two things to show their differences
tone – n. a quality, feeling, or attitude expressed by the words that someone uses in speaking or writing
impatient – adj. not willing to wait for something or someone; not patient
emphasize –v. to place special attention to something or add urgency to something said
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