Gift vs. Present. What's the Difference?

The nouns gift and present are synonyms. They essentially mean the same thing and are frequently, but not always, interchangeable.

The nouns "gift" and "present" are synonyms. They essentially mean the same thing and are frequently, but not always, interchangeable.

She bought a gift/present for her niece.

Differences Between 'Gift' and 'Present'

A gift can be something intangible. When referring to something that you cannot touch, such as an annual membership, an online course, or a donation to someone's college fund, we typically use the term "gift". When talking about material things, both "present" and "gift" are quite common.

She got a spa membership gift for her birthday.

"Free gift" is a common expression. A free gift is something that a business can give to a customer to help get new customers. We don't use the term "present" here.

The new skin-care company offers a free gift with a purchase.

"Gift", and not "present", can be used before a noun to act like an adjective (e.g., a gift wrapping, a gift shop, a gift basket, etc.).

Learn how to make a gift basket for a newborn.

"Gift" can be used in a wider range of situations since this word can refer to a natural ability or talent to do something well. For example, we say that someone has a natural gift, a gift for languages, a gift for playing the piano, etc. You cannot use "present" in this way.

My wife has a gift for music.

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