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Grasp vs. Gasp vs Gape vs. Gap

Yet another set of similar words, these differ in meaning, and in this article, I give you the chance of grasping all four words at once, without leaving any gap for confusion ever again! Enjoy reading!

  Ramya Shankar  —  Grammar Tips
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Grasping a concept is to understand it quickly. Grasping something is to get hold of it tightly.

·         She grasps the concepts easily.

·         I grasped his hand to prevent him from running.

·         Grasping this concept is not too hard, you just have to focus a bit.


Gasping is taking short sudden breaths mostly out of fear or shock.

·         She came out of the room and gasped for air.

·         He ran and gasped for life when he saw a tiger close to his car.

·         He breathed in gasps after hearing the news of his grandfather’s death.


To gape is to stare at something or someone in amazement, usually opening of mouth widely because of the surprise. Gape as a noun is referred to a wide opening.

·         We gaped at the Prime Minister while he announced the tax benefits for the middle class.

·         Don’t gape at those women as if you have never seen a woman before!

·         There was a gaping hole in the middle of the road.


Gap is also an opening, but not necessarily wide, and usually caused by some breakage. For example, a crack.

·         The small fight created a gap in their relationship.

Grasp vs. Gasp vs Gape vs. Gap

·         There is a gap in the parking area that needs to be filled up before any untoward incident occurs.

As we see, all the four words are totally different in meanings.

Check out some common idioms with these words –

1. within one’s graspeasily achievable (figurative meaning). This idiom is used with literal meaning as well.

·         The glass is within my grasp (this means its within my reach, I can hold it)

·         This project is within our grasp, we just have to prove our uniqueness. (it is an achievable goal or a fair win).

2. at the last gasp – at the last minute or last chance.

·         She showed up for the meeting at the last gasp.

·         We got to the railway station at the last gasp, the train had just started to move.

3. bridge the gap – to connect two points through mutual understanding, or to cope up with shortcomings.

·         The teachers tried to bridge the gap by providing the necessary training resources to the new joiners.

·         The politicians tried to bridge the gap by compromising on a few policies.

4. Generation gap – difference in opinions and way of thinking between two generations.

·         The generation gap is clearly visible now with the younger ones making their own choices about marriage and career.

Here are two example sentences with all the four words for you to remember

·         Stop gaping at the gaps in the door, those were created as I hurried out gasping for air and your father tried to grasp my hands and pull me outside towards safety.

·         She gasped for air through the gaps in the window and gaped at the outside world, which she wished she could see by grasping the hands of someone she loved.

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