Job , work, office – what’s the difference?

I often have students ask me about the difference between the words ‘job’ and ‘work’. There are obvious differences, such as ‘job’ being a countable noun and ‘work’ being uncountable. ‘Work’ can also be a verb but ‘job’ can’t. Here are some of the most common ways people confuse ‘job’, ‘work’ and ‘office’. Do you know which word is right for each question below? How would you answer the questions?

1. What is your work/job?
2. What time do you go to work/job?
3. Where do you work/job/office?
4. Where is your work/job/office?

Let’s have a look at the correct questions:

What is your job?
‘Job’ is the most specific of the two words and talks about one specific type of paid work – that’s why we use it here. We usually answer by saying, “I am a (job name)”, or, “My job is (the specific thing you do e.g. writing about English)”.

What time do you go to work?

Here we are not focusing on the specific type of work the person does, we are talking about the time that he or she leaves the house in the morning to do a work activity. The work is general – the time is the important part. You can answer by saying, “I go to work at (time)”.
We also use ‘work’ when we talk about other arrangements for your daily work-life. For example, “How do you get to work?”

Where do you work?

It can only be one of the words here. That’s because ‘work’ is the only one of the choices that can also be a verb. We can answer, “I work in central London”.

Where is your office?

We’ve got the word ‘where’ in this question so we know it’s regarding a place. ‘Office’ is the only option that talks about a specific place (the building where someone works), that’s why it’s the best choice here. We can answer “My office is in central London”.
So, let’s go over the main points again:

‘Job’ – for the one specific type of work you do for money.

‘Work’ – for more general comments about the activities you do in your job or to make money in general.

‘Office’ – the building where you work.

How about you? What’s your job and how do you get to work? Let us know in the comments section below.

Wil Procter

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