By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated, November 14, 2013)
Wake, which means to stop sleeping or stop someone else from sleeping, is more commonly used than awake:
- She wakes early each day.
- He woke up early yesterday.
- She will wake up early tomorrow.
- Wake up! You’re going to be late.
- He woke her up to see the sunrise.
- The cat woke its owners when the fire started.
Although wake is often used on its own or with up, it can also be used with to, from, and by:
- He woke to a nasty surprise.
- She woke from a light sleep.
- He was woken by her loud snoring.
Wake can also indicate that past feelings, impulses, or memories that lay dormant have been evoked:
- Visiting the art gallery woke his creative urges.
In addition, wake is used as a phrasal verb meaning to increase liveliness and interest or to become aware of something:
- The promise of bonuses woke the sales team from their torpor and got them moving again.
- She had not yet woken to the reality that nobody liked her tofu sculptures.
Awake, which means the same thing as wake when taking the verb form, is typically used in the past tense and more often in literature than other written materials:
- She awoke to the sound of thunder has the same meaning as she woke to the sound of thunder.
- In fairy tales, the princess is often awakened with a kiss.
Awakened is considered more formal, which is why it is often used in stories but rarely in speech or non-fiction writing.
Awake can also be used as an adjective to indicate that a person or animal is not asleep:
- She was awake when the two bagpipers began fighting on her front lawn.
- He was awake when she stumbled in drunk at three in the morning with a raccoon on her head.
- O’Conner, P. T. (1996). Woe Is I, the Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English. New York, G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
- Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. (2013). “Awake.” Oxford University Press. OALD8.OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com.
- Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. (2013). “Wake.” Oxford University Press. OALD8.OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com.