Surge and Soar

09 February 2024

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


Hi my dear teacher,

I'm Hamid from Iran. What is difference between "surge" and "soar?" Can they be used interchangeably?

Much obliged,



While "surge" and "soar" have a similar verbal meaning of rising or increasing quickly, there are some big differences! Let's look at each word with some examples.


As a verb, "surge" means to rise or increase very quickly in an abnormal way.

Food prices surged due to inflation.

"Surge" can also mean to rise rapidly and fall quickly.

The boat was surging through the water during the storm.

When talking about something coming in waves, we can use "surge."

The waves surged to the shore as the hurricane approached.

Kaitlyn's emotions surged as she accepted her award.

And lastly as a verb, we use "surge" to talk about physical things like electricity or water moving rapidly through something and with force or power.

Electricity can surge through electronic devices unexpectedly causing damage.

As a noun, the most basic meaning is a powerful rise or increase in something that was once steady or not moving. This could be physical things like water or power, or it could be more abstract like your feelings.

There has been a surge of interest in American football from young women due to Taylor Swift.

The storm surge left residents along the coast unable to return to their homes for months.

Surge protectors can keep computers and other electronics safe during thunderstorms.

Carol felt a surge of sadness move over her when her dog died.

Let's move onto "soar."


Much like "surge," "soar" is a verb that can mean to rise rapidly. However, "soar" is used mostly to talk about a position, value or price.

Pat's blood pressure always soars to 140/90 when she goes to the doctor because she is worried.

Stock prices soared after the new CEO of the company was announced.

Soar can also be used to talk about things that fly, like birds or planes.

The geese soared in formation as they flew south for the winter.

The skydiver felt as though she was soaring through the air after she jumped out of the plane.

And lastly, "soar' means to rise or move to a higher state. This can be physically like a voice or abstractly like your spirits or feelings. It can also be used to talk about how tall or high things are.

The singer's voice soared over the other members of the choir.

Her spirits soared when she learned of the good news.

One World Trade Center soars above all other buildings in New York City, standing at a height of 541 meters or 1776 feet.

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

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

And that's Ask a Teacher. Thank you for joining me over the past two years. I have enjoyed answering your questions. I hope that your English skills "soar" ever higher!

Take care,

I'm Faith Pirlo.

Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

shore – n. the land along the edge of an area of water (such as an ocean, lake, etc.)

steady adj. something that is strong and keeps working over time

abstract – adj. relating to or involving general ideas or qualities rather than specific people, objects, or actions

geese n.(pl.) birds that live in and close to water and migrate in the winter to warmer areas.

spirit – n. a force within a human being thought to give the body life, energy, and power

choir n. a group of singers especially in a church