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What is the difference among "attend", "take part in", "join" and "participate in"?

More of the time, I am confused with these four different verbs and wonder when I should use which one?

Additional Details:

Thank you for the explanations. I believe that in different occasions we use different verb expressing the action of "參加". Perhaps, I give some occasions as an examples to illustrate easily.

I took part in / participated in the competition yesterday.
She called me while I am attending the meeting.
Huntsman will participate in / take part in / run the presidential election next year.
My mother joined the dance club with my father.
My mother attended the lesson yesterday.
Tom attended the swimming class.
Susan went to the party.

Are all the sentences above right?

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language



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    Best Answer - Chosen by Voting
    Bradley's answer is good, but I just want to add something. I think maybe the real issue is how to express the Chinese word 参加 in English. Am I right?

    I know the dictionary says 参加 means "attend," "take part in," "join," and "participate," and that is true. But in many cases the best English word is actually "go to."

    = I WENT TO the party.
    NOT: I attended the party. This sentence is OK but it doesn't sound natural. Most native speakers say "went to" here.

    Other examples:
    I went to the meeting.
    I'm going to a lecture tomorrow.
    Did you go to the conference?

    Additional details:
    The sentences above are gramatically correct but some do not sound natural. Most native speakers in the U.S. would say:
    I SANG / RAN / SWAM / etc. in the competition yesterday.
    or: I was in the competition yesterday.
    (Participate or take part in are OK if the sentences above don't fit your meaning.)
    She called me while I WAS IN a meeting.
    Huntsman will RUN FOR PRESIDENT next year.
    My mother WENT TO CLASS yesterday.
    Tom WENT TO swimming class this morning. (specific action at one specific time)
    Tom TOOK swimming lessons as a child. (a routine in the past)

    Attend means to physically be there. You can attend a party. "take part in" means to actually do something while your there. You can attend a party and stand in the corner and not join it. "Join in", "participate in", and "take part in" are interchangable. Join has a larger definition. It also means to attach to one another or to put together.

    The sentences are right.

    'to take part in' or 'participate in' both refer to an active part played in an event, the person doesn't only show up there but actively gets involved in the happening.

    'to join' refers to the initial action of becoming part of a certain event, it could be used before the actual physical presence in the event, as at the stage of buying the tickets or signing up in a course etc..

    'to attend' refers to the physical presence in the event ,regardless from any shared activity, one could be passively or actively attending.

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