What is the difference between “picture” and “photo”?

Have you ever wondered whether to use “picture” or “photo” when saying “photo” in English?


Many people have learned that “Please take a picture” means “Please take a picture,” but in real life, “photo” is used in places that mean “photo,” such as in app names and store names. It’s often used.

In fact, when the author says “photo” in English conversation, he uses “photo” to communicate without any problems.

It is difficult to tell the difference between “picture” and “photo”, but they also have synonyms such as “image” and are pronounced differently in British and American English, making it surprisingly difficult to use them. You could say it’s a word.

This time, I would like to focus on the difference in meaning and usage of “Picture” and “Photo” , and also explain synonyms and how to use them properly.


What is the difference between the two similar English words “picture” and “photo”?


The question at the beginning is whether “picture” or “photo” is more appropriate to express “photo” in English, but in fact, it is okay to use either “picture” or “photo” when referring to “photo”. .

However, if you ask whether “picture” and “photo” can be used in exactly the same way for things other than “photos,” the answer is no. This is where it is difficult to distinguish between “picture” and “photo”.

“Picture” and “photo” each have different meanings and usages, so let’s check them one by one.


Meaning and usage of “picture”

“Picture” is a word that refers to visual images in general, including photographs.

In concrete English,

drawing (sketch/drawing/line drawing)
painting (picture/painting/oil painting/watercolor painting)
photo/photograph (photograph)
computer-generated image (CG)
mental image (mental scene)
graph (graph)
situation/circumstance (actual situation, situation) )

etc. are all included in “picture”.


“Picture” has many meanings, so it is often paired with a verb to form a phrase that expresses a specific meaning.

For example, “take a picture” means “to take a picture, ” “draw a picture” means “to draw a picture (by drawing a line) , ” and “paint a picture” means “to draw a picture (by drawing a line).” ) will become ` `Draw a picture” .

The verbs that come before “a picture”, such as “take”, “draw”, and “paint”, express different meanings of “picture” itself.


I took a picture of the girl playing the guitar.
I drew a picture of the girl playing the guitar.

*Crayon drawings, line drawings, etc.

I painted a picture of the girl playing the guitar.

*Oil paintings, watercolors, etc.

“Take a photo” is basically expressed as “take a picture” by adding “take”. However, when a professional photographer takes a large number of pictures, it is sometimes expressed as “shoot pictures.”

When using the word “shoot,” there is a connotation of “taking a lot of pictures,” so it is common to add multiple “s” to the pictures that follow, making them plural “pictures.”


I took a picture of the girl playing the guitar.


I shoot pictures of the girl playing the guitar.

Also, “paint a picture” means “to draw a picture,” but “paint a picture of ~” can also be used as a standard phrase that means “representing the reality (situation, statue, image, etc.).”

It’s difficult to tell the difference just by looking at the word order, so you have to figure out the difference in meaning from the context.

I like to paint a picture of nature in Australia .
It’s hard to paint a picture of Australia’s economic future precisely.


Sometimes adjectives are used together to express a specific meaning rather than a verb. For example, if you add “big” before the word “picture” and get “big picture,” it means “the whole picture. ”

“Big picture” is often used as a phrase when combined with a verb, as shown below.

Combination with “get”: “get the big picture”: “get the big picture”
Combination with “see” / “look at”: “see the big picture” / “look at the” “big picture”: “Seeing the big picture”

This is a useful phrase for business and presentations, so it is especially recommended for working adults and students who will be giving presentations to memorize it.

Did you get the picture?
Did you get the picture?


Before starting this project, we need to look at the big picture of the market .


Meaning and usage of “photo”

“Photo” is an abbreviation of “photograph” and is a word that means “a photograph (taken by a camera).” Unlike “picture”, “photo” only has the meaning of “photo”, so it is easy to understand.

“Photo” is also expressed as “photo” on Facebook and Instagram, so it is safe to assume that “photo” is basically used when referring to photos.


I took a photo of the girl playing the guitar.

On signs and notices, it is often used as the abbreviation “photograph” (or the plural “Photographs”).


No photography allowed

By the way, “photograph” can also be used as a verb meaning “to take a picture of something.”


Many girls gathered around the car to photograph him


A common mistake other country people make when it comes to photography is calling the person who takes the photo a “camera man.” In English, “camera man” means “a person who takes videos,” so the meanings are different.


When you want to say “a person who takes pictures” in English , it is common to use “photographer”.

My sister works as a photographer for weddings.

Regarding the pronunciation of “photographer,” in other country, the accent is usually on the “g” sound of photographer, but in English, the accent is on the “to” part. come. Also, in American English, the “to” sound is slightly more mixed in with the “a” sound than in British English. You can check the correct pronunciation from the following site.


Also, “photo shoot” is a cliché meaning “to take a photo. ” These are also frequently used words, so it’s useful to memorize them all at once.

I’m going to visit Thailand for the magazine photo shoot next week.

Meaning and usage of “image”

The word “image” originates from the original meaning “something imitated,” and has the meaning of “a statue, image, impression, image reflected in a mirror or television.’ ‘


Because it has a strong meaning of “something that is a copy or copy of something,” it has a slightly more formal and technical nuance than “picture,” and it also tends to be used to describe images that are copies of natural objects. .

It may be understood that “image” is used if it is a detailed representation of the real thing, and “picture” is used if it is a visual expression as a whole, including things that have little reality, such as drawings and paintings. I don’t know. For example, in the following example sentence that uses “image”, you are probably looking for an image of a real Apples.

We searched for images of Apples.

However, in the following example sentence, you are looking for a picture or photograph of a Apples, but you don’t know how detailed the image is.

We searched for pictures of Apples.

In this way, although “image” has a similar meaning to “picture” and “photo,” they are not completely interchangeable.

For example, when we say “take a photo,” we say “take a photo” or “take a picture,” but if we use “image” instead of “picture” or “photo” and say “take a image,” it sounds unnatural. It becomes an expression.


Also, as mentioned above, “big picture” means “the whole picture,” but if you replace “picture” with “image” and rephrase it as “big image,” the meaning no longer makes sense.

If you are unsure whether to use “image”, “picture” or “photo”, remember to use “photo” for photos and “picture” for other images. I think it’s good.


Summary of the differences between “picture” and “photo”

We have also introduced “picture”, “photo”, and the related expression “image”.

I hope you understand that “picture” has the broadest meaning, and that “photo” and “image” are parts of “picture.”

Just to be sure, “photo” means “photograph,” and “image” means “a statue, photograph, or image (that realistically depicts the appearance of something that is not an artificial object in every detail).” hey.

And “picture” was a general word that could express not only photographs and images, but also paintings, CG, and even spiritual scenes.

Once you feel that you have a better understanding of how to use “picture” and “photo”, please try using them in real English conversation!

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