Necessary vs. Sufficient

Difference Between Necessary and Sufficient

Necessary and sufficient are two words in the English language that are often used as interchangeable words. Strictly speaking they are not interchangeable. They show a difference between them when it comes to their use and connotation.

The word ‘necessary’ is used in the sense of something which is essential for the completion of a job, a concept or action. Look at the following sentences:

1. Water is absolutely necessary for the survival of man.

2. A photograph of passport size is also necessary.

3. It is necessary to fill all the details in the application form.

In the first sentence you get the idea that water is required or essential for the survival of man. In the second sentence you get the idea that it is essential to submit a photograph of passport size. In the third sentence you get the idea that it is absolutely essential or required that you have to fill out all the details included in the application form.

On the other hand the word ‘sufficient’ is used to mean ‘what is enough’. It gives the additional meaning of ‘minimum requirement’. Instead the word ‘necessary’ is used in the sense of ‘absolute necessity’. This is one of the main differences between the word ‘necessary’ and ‘sufficient’.

Observe the following sentences:

1. It is sufficient if you carry $ 50.

2. There is sufficient water in the flask.

In both sentences you get the idea of ​​minimum requirement. In the first sentence you get the idea of ​​minimum requirement of $ 50 to buy something. In the second sentence you get the idea of ​​minimum requirement of water to satisfy your thirst or swallow a morsel of food.

Another important difference between the two words, ‘necessary’ and ‘sufficient’ is that the same is used in the sense of precision while the latter is used in the sense of indefiniteness. In other words we can say that there is accuracy that is required when using the word ‘necessary’, then there is the indeterminacy of what is required if the use of the word ‘sufficient’ as in the sentence ‘I believe that the water in the overhead reservoir is sufficient for the day’.

In the sentence given above the speaker is not sure of the amount of water present in the overhead tank and is not so sure if this is enough for the day. This kind of doubt does not exist when using the word ‘necessary’. Now you must be very careful using the two words ‘necessary’ and ‘sufficient’ to express their meaning completely well.

 

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