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What’s the difference between study and learn?

Although learn and study have similar meanings, they are not interchangeable.

They are often false friends with words from other languages, meaning that it’s easy to mix them up.

Read on to master the difference between these tricky verbs, then put your knowledge to the test in the free exercises.


At school, the children are learning French.

The class is difficult and the teacher is very strict.

In order to pass the exam, the children have to study every night.

Learn or Study?

Learn means to get knowledge or skills by studying, through experience or by having someone teach you (i.e. in a classroom).

At school, the children are learning French.
I learned how to cook when I was a teenager.
Children learn English from an early age in most European countries.

Study means spending time learning about an academic subject, especially using books, or at a university. Study emphasises the process of getting knowledge.

The children will have to study very hard to pass the exam.
They spend hours studying every night.
My friend studied physics at university in the 90s.

We use learn and not study when we talk about practical skills.

Next week the children will start learning to drive.
I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was 22!