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File vs. Fill

Another pair of confusing words, fill and file are quite confusing, especially when used with -ing attached! There is a difference of just a ‘L’ and that makes the whole meaning different. The meaning is easy to understand and remember, and today let’s fill our mind with these 2 new words and few examples where we can use them.

3:34 min read
  Ramya Shankar  —  Grammar Tips
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Fill as we know is to occupy a space with something. For example, fill the bottle with water.

Filling can be used in more than one way. For one, it is the continuous form of fill. For example, I am filling the bottles with water. As an adjective, filling can mean in abundance. For example, the food was quite filling and delicious. Few more examples

·         I will be filling in for him for next two weeks.

·         He was filling the bag with chocolates when I saw him.

·         Her words were filled with emotion and love.

·         I went to the dentist to fill up the gaps in my teeth.

·         We made the pillow thick by filling the cloth with cotton.

·         Fill out the form quickly and submit it.

Here, fill out, fill up and fill in are some phrasal verbs.

Related tips –

·         When you fill something to the brim, it becomesfull”.

·         Fulfil something is to fully achieve what one has desired or do what one is supposed to do. Example, fulfil a dream, fulfil oneself with gratitude, fulfil the duties etc…


A file (noun) is something that stores text or images or any form of data. For example, an MS word document is a file. It is a ‘soft’ copy. A resume ‘MyResume’ is a file with the name ‘MyResume’. Similarly, file can be a hard copy too.

A file (as a verb) can also mean a collection of documents that need to be placed in a folder or some place in a particular organised manner. For example, “the place is cluttered with papers, let me file them for you.”

File is also a tool to smooth out rough surfaces of some object. For example, “file your nails so that they are not sharp.”

File vs. Fill

Filing as the present participle of file means the action in present. For example, “I was filing the documents with my grandpa today.” You can re-write the sentence as – “I was helping my grandpa file the documents today” and it would mean the same.

Filing as a gerund can be used in many ways –

·         Organising documents in a proper way – filing the papers.

·         Submitting set of papers for tax – filing tax returns.

Examples –

·         Filing your tax returns can be a gruelling task unless you have agents to do the job.

·         Let’s do the filing today, so that we can concentrate on the presentation tomorrow.

As we see, there are plenty of ways in which file and filing both can be used. With a single ‘l’ missing, the words are easy to be misread, and one has to be careful in readying them.

The conclusion – The words fill and file are in no way related but can be confused because of the “looks”.

·         Filling the cake with strawberries will give a nice flavour. File the ends of the cake to make it even.

·         My heart fills with respect for those who file their taxes properly and on time.

·         Instead of filing a complaint right away, fill up the form and wait for the authorities to respond.

·         You don’t have to fill in for him, let him organise the files when he comes back.

·         A case has been filed against those who have filled the area with trash.

·         Hope this article filled your heart with joy and you will file it with your personal favourites.

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