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'Succeed', 'Success', 'Successful', or 'Successfully'? | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 28 January 2024)

'Succeed', 'Success', 'Successful', or 'Successfully'?

Succeed, Success, Successful, and Successfully: How Are They Used Differently?

Succeed is a verb, success a noun, successful an adjective, and successfully an adverb:

Chris wants to succeed in finance.

Chris wants to achieve success in finance.

Chris wants to become a successful financial consultant.

Chris successfully completed his course and is now a financial consultant.

Successful and successfully usually present no problems to learners of English; it is the first twosucceed and success—that often cause confusion. Learners tend to misuse the noun success in sentences where the verb succeed should be used:

We will success if we work together.
We will succeed if we work together.

Whether we success or fail depends on your support.
Whether we succeed or fail depends on your support.

If you want to success in securing a loan, you need to be prepared and organised.
If you want to succeed in securing a loan, you need to be prepared and organised.

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Examples from the Media

The education world has long been filled with debate about how to improve troubled schools and help kids succeed academically and otherwise. —The Washington Post (2018)

Hard work and believing in yourself are a few of the secrets to Toronto District School Board's three top graduates' success. —Toronto Star (2021)

Exeter University offered successful medical students £10,000 and a year's free accommodation to defer until 2022, after the number of successful applicants with the course as their first choice shot up from 20% to 60%. —The Guardian (2021)

Apartment residents who successfully challenged the contract that earned Meriton an extra $310,000, in a practice that is now outlawed by the NSW Government, and which tied the home-owners to caretaker fees that ran into millions, now hope they have set a precedent that will help other apartment dwellers in a similar position. —The Sydney Morning Herald (2022)

Practice

Fill in the blanks with succeed, success, successful, or successfully.

1. Chris ________ completed his master's degree in Linguistics.

2. The performance was a huge ________.

3. You must work hard if you want to ________.

4. Most parents are willing to do whatever it takes to help their children ________.

5. Anna is a highly ________ businesswoman.

6. Failure is the mother of ________.

Answer Key

1. successfully    2. success    3. succeed    4. succeed    5. successful    6. success

Real-World Examples of Misuse

An image of the slogan of a language learning centre that says 'prepare to success'. The edited sentences are 'prepare to succeed' and 'prepare for success'.

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