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Light vs. Lite

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  Marius Alza  —  Grammar Tips
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Light vs. Lite

You might download an app on your phone and see it's the "lite" version. Or you might buy a product from the store with less calories, from the "lite" edition. As you probably noticed already, "lite" has become a quite usual word in English, although few really know whether this is a correct term or a misspelling for "light".

So what does "light" represent and what does "lite" refer to? Let's explain these details so you know how to properly use both words in any context.

Light vs. Lite

With "light", things are most probably very clear. "Light" is a noun, a verb and an adjective, frequently used in the English vocabulary in all types of sentences, without causing considerable confusion.

"Lite", on the other hand, is more questioned by English users. Is it correct? Well, the problem here is not whether "lite" is or is not a misspelling. It's actually about formal and informal vocabularies. In a formal conversation, "lite" can never substitute "light" as it would be considered a mistake, of course, because this word does not even exist in most notorious dictionaries. In informal language, however, "lite" has become a quite usual replacement for "light" in certain situations and it won't be considered a misspelling.

When do we use "light"?

"Light" has multiple meanings in all its forms, from noun and verb to adjective. In addition, there are several phrases and expressions in English, using "light", which signify another set of distinct messages. Anyway, "light" is always a word you can count on in formal language and will never be considered a misspelling. Here are some examples of how to use "light" correctly:

Example 1: There was an intense light on the sky last night. - as a noun, it refers to brightness, shine.

Example 2: One car light was working, the other one wasn't. - also a noun, it can refer to a device that produces light.

Example 3: I had a light breakfast this morning. - as an adjective, "light" can also refer to something "not much".

Example 4: Use light weights if the heavy ones exhaust you. - as an adjective, "light" primarily refers to something easy, not heavy.

Example 5: She likes wearing light colors. - again, as an adjective, "light" refers to something vague, "not intense".

Example 6: Light this candle for me, please. - as a verb, "light" defines the action of producing light, of making something start to burn, in general.

When do we use "lite"?

We already mentioned this, "lite" is an informal word and should, therefore, be used only in informal conversations (with friends, family etc). Here are some of the most usual examples:

Example 1: I downloaded the Lite version of the app because it occupied less space on my phone. - the "lighter" version, with smaller dimensions.

Example 2: I ate a lite yogurt this morning because I wasn't hungry. - "lite" can also replace "light" in formal language, defining a quantity or density that is "not much".

Conclusion

Most important to remember is that "light" is the formal word (noun, verb, adjective), and can be used in most contexts, whereas "lite" is not. "Lite" should be only used in informal language to replace "light".

Light vs. Lite

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1 Comment
  • puffyknudsen
    A division of our company works on light/lite equipment such as lawn mowers, weed eaters, mechanical repairs such as oil changes on quads & other outdoor/ farm equipment.. What should a business card say? The “light” or “lite” equipment division? 
    LikeReplyReport 12 months ago

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