Translating from Indonesian language to English language is no walk in the park. It requires not only good grammar skills, but also the knowledge of a great number of vocabulary.

However, English vocabulary can be tricky. When two words have similar spelling, people may mistake one for the other, even though they have different meanings. People also often make mistakes with synonyms, because even though some words may have similar meanings, they are not always interchangeable depending on the context.

With this issue in mind, we would like to share with you these “tricky” similar words to pay attention to. We hope that this can help increase your English vocabulary and improve your translation skills.

We hope these will be helpful to you. Look out for our next English Today blog post, and follow @mavgram for mini reminders on Instagram!


  • Conservation/Preservation

Conservation and preservation both have the same basic meaning of protection. However, when we talk about protection of nature, conservation and preservation convey different ways of protection.

Put simply, conservation seeks the proper use of nature, while preservation seeks protection of nature from use.

When you conserve something, you make sure that you use it wisely, while preserving something means that you keep it in present condition.


We just need to conserve the water resources, because if we don’t, sooner or later we will run up against a capacity problem.

New buildings should preserve the existing environment while applying the latest science and materials.


  • Guarantee/Warranty

Guarantee is a formal assurance that certain conditions will be fulfilled relating to a product, service, or transaction.

Warranty is a written guarantee promising to repair or replace a product if necessary within a specific period.

Guarantee is the more general term, while warranty is the more specific term. What we call “garansi” in Indonesian is translated as “warranty”.


All new cars come with a manufacturer’s warranty, which generally runs for one to three years.

All products carry a five-year guarantee against possible faulty materials and workmanship.


  • Refuse/Reject/Decline

These three words can be especially confusing, because in Indonesian they are all translated as “menolak”, but in English, they have slightly different meanings.

Refuse means choosing not to do something or not to accept something. So, one can refuse to eat or refuse a request.

Reject is similar to refuse, but often carries the added meaning of thinking something is not good enough or unsuitable. So, one can reject a proposal or reject a person.

Decline is a formal synonym of refuse, means that politely refusing to do or accept something. So, one can decline an invitation.

To see the differences:

  • I refuse your proposal  → I’m not even going to read it.
  • I reject your proposal → I read it through, but I think it’s not good enough.


refused to answer.

Local unions rejected the proposal which could have undermined their position in the entire plant.

The company has declined our invitations to comment on the concerns raised by some of their customers.

Note: Decline also has another meaning: to become less or worse.


  • Safe/Secure

Safe and secure both carry the meaning of protection from danger and risks, but they have subtle differences, and they cannot always be used interchangeably. For example, when a person says, “the child is safe”, this person refers to the child’s well-being: the child is not harmed either emotionally or physically. However, if the person instead says, “the child is secure”, it can be understood that the child is kept somewhere well-guarded. Secure carries the added meaning of limited access.


While most of us are now safe from fire, so many others are now in harm’s way.

Though the bank was looted, the vault miraculously remained secure.


  • Postpone/Delay

Postpone and delay also have similar and yet different meanings. When an event is postponed, it is rescheduled to a later time. However, when an event is delayed, it is late or slow to start.


The game was postponed as a mark of respect.

Neither trains nor traffic were delayed by the incident.

Note: Please do not ever mistake both words with cancel, because cancel has an entirely different definition. Cancel means it’s not going to happen. (•ˋ _ ˊ•)


  • Compatible/Suitable

In Indonesian, both words are translated as “cocok”, but in English, they talk about different kinds of well-matched. Compatible means able to exist or occur together without problems or conflict, while suitable means right or appropriate for a particular person, purpose, or situation. They are not interchangeable. What are compatible may not be suitable for each other, depending on purpose or situation.


Make sure the hardware and software you purchase are compatible with your computer.

It will have to be taped though I am not sure how suitable it is for a five-year-old.

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