Source or Resource?

17 November 2023

Hi there! This week on Ask a Teacher, we will answer a question about the difference between the words "source" and "resource."


Hello friends,

Ask a Teacher: Source or Resource?
Ask a Teacher: Source or Resource?

I'm Isac, one of your followers from Mexico. I have a question. What is the difference between "source" and "resource?" Many thanks.


Thanks for your question, Isac. Both "source" and "resource" have similar word histories. One is the root of the other. That is the reason they look similar and might be confused. But these two words are quite different! Let's consider each one.


"Source" can be a noun or a verb. As a noun, a "source" is the origin or beginning of something.

For example, we often talk about the source of rivers. This source is where the river starts, like another body of water such as a lake.

The Nile River has two sources, the Blue Nile and the White Nile.

A source can also be a person or something like a book or an article that supplies information.

When you write an essay, you should write down your sources.

A source can also be what something is made of.

Red bugs called cochineal are the source for a red color used in dyes.

"Source" can also be verb. It can mean to find materials for something, or it can mean to provide something.

The cook sourced ingredients for the dish from her own garden.

Many jewelry companies source diamonds grown in a lab.

Let's move onto "resource."


The word "resource" is a noun. It has many meanings. A "resource" is something that can be easily found and used quickly in a time of need. It can be a supply of something, support or aid.

This kind of resource can include money, assets or human power in cases of emergencies.

The United States supplies military resources to its allies in times of conflict.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent provide resources to people following natural disasters.

A "resource" can also be something naturally found in the Earth's environment or underneath its surface.

Natural resources include metals, oil, water and even sunlight.

And lastly, a "resource" can be something or someone that can help you get information or is an expert in a subject or industry.

Her college advisor became a great resource to her when she was choosing her field of study.

Please let us know if these explanations and examples have helped you, Isac.

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I'm Faith Pirlo.

Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

ingredient – n. something that enters into a compound or is a component part of any combination or mixture

asset – n. something that is owned and that has value