Awareness vs. Consciousness

15 September 2023

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


Dear teacher,

Awareness vs. Consciousness
Awareness vs. Consciousness

I am Mayer from Colombia. I hope you are well.

I would like to know the difference between the words, "awareness" and "consciousness."

Thanks a lot,



Thanks for this wonderful question, Mayer.

"Awareness" and "consciousness" share somewhat similar definitions.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "awareness" as having knowledge and understanding that something is happening or exists. And it defines "consciousness" as being aware of things around you or something within oneself.

But these two words can have many different meanings.

Let's look at each one more closely.


"Awareness" is a noun that comes from the adjective "aware." When you are aware of something, you know or you have a sense that something exists. For example:

Many drivers have no awareness of other cars in their blind spots, areas around the car that they cannot easily see.

In yoga, your mind and your body connect to bring awareness to places of pain so that you can ease it.

We often talk about "awareness" of social or political causes or beliefs. This is one of the meanings that is shared with "consciousness."

World Pangolin Day is celebrated on February 18th to raise more awareness for these animals.

Let's move on to "consciousness."


"Consciousness" is a noun that has several meanings. It comes from the adjective "conscious." When you are "conscious," you are awake and can think and make decisions for yourself.

When you are asleep, you are not conscious.

Your "consciousness" is your physical and mental state of being conscious or awake.

She lost consciousness after she fell and hit her head.

Your "consciousness" also includes your mind and thoughts.

Don't let his bad feelings cloud your consciousness.

And lastly, "consciousness" is the belief that people can have, or it can be an interest or knowledge of certain ideas.

Greta Thunberg helped younger people to have more interest in climate consciousness and activism.

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

Do you have a question about American English? Send us an email at

And that's Ask a Teacher.

I'm Faith Pirlo.

Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

yoga – n. a system of exercises for gaining bodily or mental control and well-being