Difference Wiki

Adjust vs. Change: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 14, 2023
Adjust means to make small alterations to fit or conform, while change implies a more significant alteration or transformation from one state to another.

Key Differences

The terms "adjust" and "change" are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings. "Adjust" typically refers to minor modifications, whereas "change" signifies a more extensive transformation.
If you're tweaking a few settings on a device, you'd be making adjustments. However, if you replace the device entirely, that would be a change. The distinction lies in the degree: adjusting something refines or corrects it, while changing it replaces or transforms its nature.
Think about clothing. If a shirt doesn't fit well, you might adjust it by moving a button or taking in a seam. But if you swap the shirt for a completely different one, you've made a change. Both "adjust" and "change" reflect modifications, but the extent and nature of the modification vary.
Similarly, in personal development or behavior, if someone tries to behave slightly differently in certain situations, they're adjusting their behavior. But if they decide to adopt a completely different lifestyle or attitude, they're undergoing a change. The core difference is the magnitude and depth of the alteration.
In business contexts, a company might adjust its strategies by tweaking marketing tactics. On the other hand, if a company moves from producing electronics to fashion, it's a significant change. Both terms indicate evolution, but "adjust" is often subtler than "change."

Comparison Chart


Making minor alterations.
A significant transformation.


Subtle modifications.
More extensive or complete alterations.


Can be temporary or permanent.
Often implies a lasting effect.


Refinement or correction.
Replacement or transformation.


Improved fit, alignment, or performance.
A new state, form, or function.

Adjust and Change Definitions


To correct or balance, especially in relation to other things.
Adjust the settings to improve the image quality.


To make or become different.
The leaves change color in the fall.


To modify slightly to achieve a desired fit or result.
She had to adjust the straps of her backpack.


To transform or convert.
Water changes into ice when frozen.


To settle or come to terms with a new situation.
It took him a month to adjust to college life.


To move from one state or condition to another.
His attitude changed for the better.


To regulate or bring to a desired consistency.
Adjust the temperature to bake the cake.


To undergo a variation or transition.
The weather is likely to change tomorrow.


To arrange or place in a new or different order.
Adjust the furniture to create more space.


To replace something with another.
I need to change the batteries in the remote.


To move or change (something) so as to be in a more effective arrangement or desired condition
Adjust the timing of a car's engine.
Adjust a hearing aid to amplify lower frequencies.


To cause to be different; alter
We decided to change the color of the walls. You can't change the rules in the middle of the game.


To change so as to be suitable to or conform with something else
Adjusted the schedule to allow for everyone's vacation plans.
Adjusted the old monetary figures to account for inflation.


To give a completely different form or appearance to; transform
The new homeowners changed the yard into a garden.


Does "adjust" always mean a minor modification?

Typically, "adjust" implies smaller alterations, but context can affect its degree.

Can I use "adjust" and "change" interchangeably?

While sometimes used interchangeably, they have different nuances, so it's essential to consider context.

Can "change" refer to personal growth?

Absolutely, personal growth often involves significant changes in behavior or mindset.

How can "change" be used in a financial context?

In finances, "change" can refer to coins or the difference in amount, as in getting change back.

Is "change of heart" a common phrase?

Yes, a "change of heart" means a shift in one's feelings or opinions.

Is "adjust" always positive?

Not necessarily. An adjustment can be either positive or negative based on context.

Can "change" imply growth?

Yes, change can indicate growth or evolution over time.

Do both "adjust" and "change" imply action?

Generally, yes. Both terms usually involve some action or process.

Is "change" always noticeable?

Not always. Some changes can be subtle, while others are more evident.

Can "adjust" refer to alignment?

Yes, "adjust" can mean bringing something into proper alignment.

Is "change" always significant?

Often, "change" implies a notable difference, but it can sometimes refer to minor variations.

Can "adjust" be used in emotional contexts?

Yes, someone can adjust to a new situation or environment emotionally.

Is "change" always permanent?

Not necessarily. Some changes can be temporary, depending on the context.

Can you adjust your opinion?

Yes, you can adjust your opinion based on new information or perspectives.

How does "adjust" relate to machinery?

In machinery, "adjust" can mean fine-tuning or calibrating for optimal performance.

Can businesses adjust their strategies?

Definitely, businesses often adjust strategies based on market feedback.

What's a drastic change?

A drastic change is a profound and notable transformation.

Is change inevitable?

In many contexts, yes. The adage "change is the only constant" highlights its inevitability in life.

What's an example of adjusting a plan?

Adjusting a plan might involve changing the date or tweaking the agenda slightly.

Can one adjust to change?

Yes, one can adjust or adapt to new changes in life or environment.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons