What is the Difference Between Ambiguous and Ambivalent?

Ambiguous and ambivalent are adjectives that are used to indicate uncertainty. However, they are used in entirely different scenarios. Let’s simplify the meaning of the two words so that you can choose the right one for your sentences without much ado.

Ambiguous is used when a situation is unclear and can be interpreted in more than one way. It means that you need more clarity or explanation to make an informed decision about something. For instance,

Amber asked Sam if he wanted to meet her. Sam did not know what to respond as Amber’s question was ambiguous.

Sam did not have the clarity on when, and where did Amber want to meet him.

Ambivalent is used when you are aware or have clarity about a situation but are uncertain about the choice to be made. It signifies that you are indecisive despite having all the information. Let us consider the following example.

Amber asked Sam to meet at 5:00 pm on Thursday at the park near her house, but since Sam was busy, he was

Here, Sam is clear about the communication, but he is unsure whether he should meet. So, he is ambivalent about meeting Amber.

Now, let’s see an  example of how to use ambiguous and ambivalent correctly in academic writing.

Correct: Despite several studies, the effect of multilingualism on brain development remains ambiguous.

We hope we have made it easier for you to choose between ambiguous and ambivalent so that you never mix them up.

Stay tuned as we help you gain clarity on more of such commonly confused words!

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