answer / reply / respond

These verbs have essentially the same meaning. You can:

  • answer an email
  • reply to an email (most common when talking about e-mail)
  • respond to an email

    When someone calls you, you answer the phone (or pick up the phone).

    When you make a statement or some comments, we usually say the other person replies or responds.

    When you ask a question, we usually say the other person answers. However, this is not 100% – reply and respond can also be used for answering a question.

    When used as a noun (with a, an, the and possessive pronouns like my, your, his, her, etc.) the words answer and reply don’t change – but the noun form of “respond” is response.

  • He answered my question, but I didn’t understand his answer.
  • We’re waiting for a reply from the customer.
  • Her response to his comment was brilliant.