There are many differences between American and British English. Normally, these differences are fun and easy to understand. Occasionally, however, a familiar word appears in an odd context to communicate a meaning you were not aware it could convey, and such is the case with “revise.”
It is correct to say “revise” when communicating that one needs “to alter” or “to improve” a written document in both American and British English. However, Americans go further by adding a sense of “to correct” while British English adds an additional definition: “to review” or “to study.”
“Revise” is flexible in form as it appears in several parts of speech and has a range of degrees to which someone can revise something. Thus, knowing when, how, and in what form to employ “revise” is a bit tricky.
What Is the Difference Between “Revise” and “Correct”?
In American English, “to revise” carries a sense of altering, reworking, or modifying an existing document, while “to correct” communicates the adjustment of a document to a certain standard. “Revise” has an additional meaning of “to study” or “to review” in British English (source).
We may best understand the difference between “revise” and “correct” in American English through their respective noun forms, “revision” and “correction.”
The revision of a manuscript will have extensive changes from the original to serve its purpose better — it is possible someone had to alter the whole manuscript!
However, the correction of a manuscript has more to do with editing for adherence to the guidelines and proofreading for grammar mistakes. Therefore, it will not be necessary to alter the whole manuscript in a correction — the main idea and content will largely remain the same.
As verbs, “revise” and “correct” carry the same essential meaning as their noun forms. “Please revise” means to rework or modify the concept, while “please correct” has more to do with minor changes to grammar and structure according to a certain standard.
As far as applying these verbs, though, “revise” can apply to more situations than “correct.” For example, you can “revise” a plan, a law, a system, but you could either “revise” or “correct” a document, a price, a value, or other numerical value.
The extent to which we can revise something can be much greater than that to which we can correct something.
Which Is Correct: “Revise” or “Revised”?
The answer here entirely depends on how the word functions in the sentence. “Revise” is a transitive verb, whereas “revised” is a past participle form for either the simple past tense or an adjective.
“Revise” is a verb that appears in present or future tense verb forms, an imperative form, or an infinitive form.
- They revise documents for agencies. → simple present verb
- He will revise the lease this week. → simple future verb
- Please revise. → imperative verb
- I need you to revise this summary. → infinitive
“Revised” is a past participle that appears in past tense or perfect verb forms or as an adjective.
- James revised the contract before presenting it. → simple past verb
- They have revised Dr. Borges’s agreement to allow pets. → present perfect verb
- Here is the revised lease. → adjective
In British English, “revise” carries another definition: “to review” or “to study.” As such, there is both a transitive and an intransitive verb form for the present participle.
- Students wait to revise class notes until just before an exam. → transitive present verb
- We must revise for the exam tomorrow. → intransitive present verb
As you can see, “revise” is a flexible word that can grammatically serve a range of functions. Therefore, ensure that you correctly identify the function of “revise” in a sentence to understand the meaning it conveys.
What Does “Revise” Mean?
“Revise” means “to alter” or “to modify” in both American and British English. This meaning pertains to written documents, numbers, plans, laws, and systems. In British English, “revise” can also mean “to review” or “to reread” for exam preparation.
In terms of modifying a document, “revise” can mean anything from simple grammatical revisions to a complete reworking of the document’s content or even concept.
The nuances of “revise” lean primarily toward an editor-like modification — one that has to do primarily with ensuring that the concepts, formatting, structure, flow, and tone are all in line with the purpose of the document.
“Revise” can also communicate the updating or revamping of a document. For example, a landlord may “revise a lease” between tenants, or a lawyer may “revise the terms and conditions annually” for a website.
In terms of numbers, “revise” can mean changing the amount or value of something to reflect the current situation more accurately (source). Think along the lines of updating statistics, prices, or inventory.
One may also choose to modify their plans, or lawmakers can change a law. Also, business owners may adapt their systems to scale their operations. We can also consider all of this modifying, changing, and adapting as “revising.”
How Do You Use “Revise”?
You can use “revise” to name an action, describe a noun, or name a document that someone has edited. Thus, “revise” can function in several grammatical forms: transitive verb, intransitive verb, adjective, infinitive, gerund, and noun.
Learning how to identify its function in the sentence is the key to understanding its meaning.
|Transitive Verb||Please revise this document.|
|Intransitive Verb (British)||Revise for the exam next Monday.|
|Adjective||The revised contract is at your desk.|
|Infinitive||Nathan asked Sara to revise the article.|
|Gerund||Revising the article was more involved than expected.|
|Noun||The revision was perfect!|
So, it is totally possible to say, “I need you to revise for revising this revision and then revise the revised revision again” in proper grammar. How fun is that?
When Can You Use “Revise”?
You can use “revise” anytime you refer to the need to edit or alter something written. This could be an email, a document, the manuscript of a book, or a formal contract, lease, or agreement. We can technically revise anything written.
That said, it is most common to utilize “revise” to describe altering, reworking, revamping, or otherwise modifying any kind of document.
- Please revise your application before you apply again.
- Do you wish to revise your statement?
- All parties should revise the agreement before we meet again on the 18th.
You may also use “revise” to describe altering numbers.
- After looking over the report, the team decided to revise their numbers.
- New data from last year necessitates that we revise our figures.
“Revise” can communicate the process of changing or modifying a plan, law, or system, as well.
- We should consider revising the house blueprint.
- The state legislature has opted to revise the 1926 law against spitting on the street.
- In order to scale, we have to revise our email marketing system.
In British English, you can add “to review” as an additional meaning for “revise,” especially in the sense of exam preparation.
- You should probably revise for the exam next week.
- Revising notes for a research paper is time-consuming.
In What Context Can You Use “Revise”?
You can use “revise” in various contexts, particularly formal and semi-formal ones. For example, anytime you refer to the need to edit a written document or update figures, “revise” is appropriate.
Perhaps that is why the most common context for “revise” is in business. By and large, businesses need to update their contracts, statistics, figures, reports, and other official documents regularly to stay relevant. Hence, they often hire editors and copy editors to “revise” these documents.
Writing academic papers or articles for scholarly journals or book manuscripts for publishing companies also requires a series of revisions.
The term is far more common in informal British English contexts as students must “revise for” exams and presentations often.
Using “Revise” in a Full Sentence
Where “revise” appears in a sentence depends entirely on what function it performs grammatically. As a verb, “revise” is likely to appear after the subject and before the object of revision.
- I must revise this article by midnight.
As an intransitive verb in British English, you will see “revise for” in a similar location.
- High school students must revise for the SAT in addition to their regular final exams.
As an adjective, the past participle form “revised” will appear just before the noun it modifies.
- Your revised essay got approved for the writer’s competition!
In its noun form, “revision” can stand wherever a noun can function: subject, object, object of the preposition, appositive, or subject complement.
- Manuscript revisions must follow APA format. → subject
- You should probably read this revision. → direct object
- Your job is to decide between revisions. → object of preposition
- The third paper, a revision, struck me as the best candidate. → appositive
- James’s contract is a revision of the old one. → subject complement
However you choose to use “revise,” take into account what you need to communicate and which part of speech will best convey meaning.
Is It Grammatically Correct to Say “Revise”?
Yes, it is grammatically correct to say “revise” when referring to modifying or updating a written document or numbers.
- Stock market statistics need to be revised hourly.
For British English speakers, it is equally acceptable to say “revise for” in reference to rereading something, especially for the purpose of memorizing for an exam or speech (source).
- Remember to revise for the presentation on Friday.
“Revise” is useful in a range of contexts, but when should you avoid using it?
When Not to Use “Revise”
You should not use “revise” when looking for simple grammatical corrections to a written document. Any marks we can consider as “corrections” or “proofreading” are not typically “revisions.” Furthermore, you cannot “revise” spoken words.
If you are going over a written document to correct grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and other similar technical errors, you are proofreading or correcting the document to align with grammatical standards. This is not revising the document.
You can’t revise spoken words. If you say, “I am going to revise my speech,” you are referring to revising the written copy of the speech, not the other way around. We would more accurately consider editing unwritten spoken words as “rephrasing.”
What Can You Use Instead of “Revise”?
“Revise” has many synonyms because it refers to any level of revision. From “alter” and “modify” to “update” and “simplify,” you will determine what you use instead of “revise” by the extent to which you want a document revised.
When referring to light revisions, you may choose to replace “revise” with “slightly alter” or “lightly modify.” If the revisions will actually be closer to “corrections,” then you may prefer “correct” or “proof the document.”
For heavy revisions, you should opt for stronger synonyms like “edit,” “rework,” “revamp,” “remodel,” “refashion,” or “update.” These revisions typically involve keeping the main idea but updating the whole thing.
In situations where the entire concept needs revision, you can use “redo,” “remake,” “change,” “rebuild from the bottom up,” “seriously alter,” or “heavily modify.”
American vs. British English
There are many interesting differences between American and British English vocabulary, and “revise” is one of those differences. Both define “revise” as “modify” or “alter,” but the American definition adds a nuance of reviewing for the purpose of correcting, while the British add an additional definition: “to review.”
Though “revise” appears in multiple grammatical functions, it is the verb form that differs between American and British English. Americans add a “reviewing something in order to correct it” sense to the “alter” or “modify” definition of “revise.”
British English does not carry that nuance outright but instead adds a new definition: “to review” or “to reread.” This additional definition applies especially to the context of studying for an exam or preparing for a speech or presentation. It carries the nuance of memorizing. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
For more on the differences between American and British English vocabulary, check out our article “Is ‘Summertime’ One Word or Two?”
“Revise” is a wonderfully flexible word that can communicate a wide range of modifications. It can describe slight corrections, an update, or a complete overhaul of a written document, plan, law, or system. In British English, “revise” can also describe reviewing for a test or presentation.
However you decide to use “revise,” ensure you capture the correct meaning by grammatical function and quantifying the extent to which you would like a revision done. It would certainly be awkward to have your article completely reworked when you meant “updated.”