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The Difference Between ‘Task’ and ‘Assignment’


The Difference Between ‘Task’ and ‘Assignment’
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This week on Ask a Teacher, we answer a question from Ramiro, who is in Brazil.

Question:

Hello!

Could you tell me the difference between a task and an assignment? And how do we use them in our daily life?

Thank you,

Ramiro, Brazil

Answer:

Dear Ramiro,

As you may know, both task and assignment are nouns describing an activity that you must complete.

A task is something you have to do. An assignment is usually a task that someone gives you to do.

Ways to use ‘task’

A task describes an activity that can be done in your daily life. But you can give a task to yourself, or someone else can give you a task to complete.

Any activity you want to finish can become a task. Think about a day in your life and the responsibilities you have. What are the tasks you must do during your day?

You can have one task or many tasks. For example:

My task today is to feed the cats before leaving for school.

Tasks are often connected to a bigger goal. Here is an example:

Although learning a computer programming language is a difficult task, I will do my best to study it for my future career.

Ways to use ‘assignment’

An assignment means someone is giving you an activity or task to complete.

For example, imagine your teacher says:

Our test is on Friday, so your assignment tonight is to study everything we learned this past month.

Teachers give students assignments every day. But students need to know how to take a big assignment and separate it into smaller tasks. Students might understand this example:

My assignment is to read the whole book. But luckily, I only need to read 10 pages a day.

Ways to use ‘task’ and ‘assignment’ together

Both tasks and assignments are often related to time. For example, we make lists of tasks to better organize our time. For example:

By 12 p.m. today, I need to do the following tasks: take out the garbage, walk my dog and go shopping.

“Task and “Assignment” are often used in work situations too. If you ever worked in a job, the boss may say:

Your assignment is to finish all three tasks before the end of the day.

Well, Ramiro, we hope this helps to answer your question.

And to our listeners everywhere, what question do you have about American English? Send us an email at learningenglish@voanews.com.

And that’s Ask a Teacher!

I’m Armen Kassabian.

Armen Kasabian wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor. Practice using the words ‘task’ and ‘assignment’ in the comments below

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