Difference Wiki

Left vs. Remaining: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 8, 2024
Left refers to departed from a place or position. Remaining refers to still present or not yet dealt with.

Key Differences

Left often implies that something or someone has moved away from a specific location or position. It suggests a past action of leaving. In contrast, remaining suggests that something or someone is still present in a location or position, yet to be moved or dealt with.
The word left can indicate what has been departed from, abandoned, or used up, carrying a sense of completion or absence. Remaining, however, indicates what is still present, available, or to be addressed, often implying continuation.
In the context of quantity or resources, left often refers to what has been used and is no longer available. For example, "There is no milk left in the fridge." On the other hand, remaining focuses on what is still available or yet to be used, as in "The remaining milk should be enough for breakfast."
Left is also used to indicate direction, as opposed to right, or to describe a political ideology. However, remaining does not have such alternative meanings and is strictly used to refer to what continues to exist or is yet to be completed.
When used in the past tense, left can indicate an action completed in the past, like leaving a place or using up a resource. Remaining, as an adjective, describes the current state of things that are still existing, yet to be finished or dealt with.

Comparison Chart


Departure or absence
Presence or continuation


Past action or direction
Current state or yet to be completed


"She left the room."
"The remaining guests stayed."


Absence, depletion
Availability, continuity


Directional meaning, political ideology
Strictly refers to presence or continuity

Left and Remaining Definitions


What remains after others have been used or taken.
Only a few cookies were left after the party.


Left over after others have been removed.
The remaining cake was stored in the fridge.


Past tense of leave, indicating past departure.
He left his keys at home.


Still present or to be dealt with.
The remaining tasks will be completed tomorrow.


Relating to a liberal or progressive political stance.
Her views are quite left-leaning.


Still existing or in place.
The remaining guests decided to stay longer.


Departed from a place or position.
She left the office early today.


Not yet used, spent, or consumed.
Only a few chapters remaining in the book.


Direction opposite of right.
Turn left at the next street.


Left to be done or considered.
The remaining question is how to proceed.


Of, belonging to, located on, or being the side of the body to the north when the subject is facing east.


To continue in the same state or condition
These matters remain in doubt.


Of, relating to, directed toward, or located on the left side.


To continue to be in the same place; stay or stay behind
We are remaining at home.


Located on the left side of a person facing downstream
The left bank of a river.


To be left after the removal, loss, passage, or destruction of others
Only a few trees remained after the storm. ].


Present participle of remain
They will be remaining behind.
My remaining at the beach house kept it from being vandalized.
The remaining paint shall be properly disposed of.


An act or occurrence by which someone or something remains




Which remains, especially after something else has been removed.
May I have the only remaining cake?


Being the remaining one or ones of several;
Tried to sell the remaining books


Not used up;
Leftover meatloaf
She had a little money left over so she went to a movie
Some odd dollars left
Saved the remaining sandwiches for supper
Unexpended provisions


What does 'left' mean in a directional sense?

It refers to the direction opposite of right.

Does 'left' always imply something negative?

No, it can be neutral, depending on context.

Is 'remaining' used to describe time?

Yes, it can refer to the time left or yet to pass.

Can 'remaining' imply something lasting?

Yes, it suggests what continues to exist or last.

Can 'left' refer to what is left behind?

Yes, it often indicates what is left after something is removed.

Can 'remaining' refer to people?

Yes, as in those who are still present.

Does 'remaining' have a specific tense?

It's generally present tense or future-focused.

Can 'remaining' indicate something still to come?

Yes, it can refer to what is yet to occur or be dealt with.

Is 'left' used in political contexts?

Yes, it can describe liberal or progressive political stances.

Is 'left' a past tense verb?

Yes, it's the past tense of 'leave.'

Does 'left' have an antonym?

Yes, its antonyms include 'arrived' or 'stayed.'

Does 'remaining' have synonyms?

Yes, like 'leftover,' 'unresolved,' or 'outstanding.'

Can 'left' mean 'remaining' in some contexts?

Yes, when referring to what is left over or not used.

Is 'remaining' ever used in a past tense context?

Rarely, it's more focused on the current or future state.

Does 'remaining' imply a small amount?

Not necessarily; it varies with context.

Is 'remaining' used in legal documents?

Yes, often to describe what is yet to be settled.

Can 'left' describe an absence?

Yes, it can indicate something or someone is no longer present.

Is 'left' used in mathematics?

Rarely, unless in a spatial or directional context.

Can 'remaining' imply endurance?

Yes, in the sense of what continues or persists.

Is 'left' associated with departure?

Yes, it often indicates leaving a place or situation.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
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.

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