When you work together with people toward a shared goal, are you corroborating with them, or collaborating with them?
Likewise, what are you doing when you confirm someone else’s telling of events with your own account of what happened?
If you cannot decide which word refers to which scenario, you are not alone. All writers misuse words, and collaborate and corroborate are easy words to confuse. They sound very similar, and they are not commonly used verbs.
Still, they refer to different activities, and cannot be freely substituted for each other. You should be careful to use words intentionally whenever you write—and especially so when writing for professional or academic situations. These are the instances where collaborate and corroborate are more likely to be used anyway.
What is the Difference Between Collaborate and Corroborate?
In this post, I will compare collaborate vs. corroborate. I will use each word in example sentences to illustrate its proper use and context.
Plus, I will outline a mnemonic that you can use to decide whether collaborate or corroborate is the word you actually mean to use in your sentence.
When to Use Collaborate
What does collaborate mean? Collaborate is a verb. It means to work together on a project or activity.
- “I would love to collaborate with my favorite author on my new novel, but my favorite author is dead,” said the writer.
- “Collaboration begets innovation!” Sue reminded her coworkers.
- The effort to collaborate with and interact with a wider segment of Americans beyond D.C. politicians and staffers is essential, both to bring new ideas into the Beltway and to encourage private efforts in lieu of or to supplement public initiatives. –The Washington Post
When to Use Corroborate
What does corroborate mean? Corroborate is a also verb that means to confirm or verify, as if by outside, confirming evidence. Corroborate often appears in legal and scientific contexts.
- “Security footage from the casino corroborates the suspect’s story,” said the investigator.
- “Our findings are corroborated by a wide body of existing literature,” said the researcher.
- My plea of innocence was corroborated by eyewitness accounts that the robbery was actually committed by a flying robot.
- Sergey Betov, a Belarussian doubles specialist, was first found to bear no fault or negligence in April, after the low concentration of meldonium in his sample was shown to corroborate his account of having last taken meldonium in October. –The New York Times
Trick to Remember the Difference
Here is a helpful trick to remember corroborate vs. collaborate.
Collaborate and corroborate are both verbs, but they mean different things. If you notice that the word collaborate contains the word labor, it should be easy to remember that collaborate means to work together. This way, you will always know which verb to choose.
Is it collaborate or corroborate? Many English users confuse these words because they sound so similar. However, there are no contexts in which they are interchangeable, and you must be careful to use the correct one when you write.
- Collaborate and corroborate are both verbs.
- To collaborate is to work together on something.
- To corroborate is to confirm or support something with evidence.
One easy way to keep these words straight in your mind is by noticing that the word collaborate contains the word labor. Since collaborate means to work together and labor is a synonym of work, remembering when to choose collaborate is as simple as looking at its spelling.
- Collaborate means to work together.
- Corroborate means to confirm with supporting evidence.