interfere / intervene

Interfere has a negative connotation; it is when someone/something affects a situation, and you don’t want it to:

  • I wish my mother would stop interfering in my life!
  • I’m trying to study, but the noise is interfering with my ability to concentrate.

    Intervene has a more positive connotation; it is when someone/something affects a situation in a good way. We often use it for stepping into a conflict or argument to prevent it from getting worse.

  • Bob and Joe were about to start fighting, but Pam intervened and calmed them down.
  • The diplomats intervened in the conflict and negotiated a peace agreement between the two countries.

    The same is true for the noun forms: interference and intervention.

  • The citizens are angry about the government’s interference in the economy; there are so many rules and regulations that it harms businesses.

    (interference = negative connotation)

  • The citizens are happy about the government’s intervention in the economy; the new laws and incentives have saved the country from a crisis.

    (intervention = positive connotation)