Adopted and Adoptive

The Quick Answer
The difference between adopted and adoptive is best explained with a simple example:

Mr Smith says, "Sarah is my adopted daughter."
Sarah says, "He is my adoptive father."


The adjective adopted pertains to the person who has been adopted. For example:
  • Charles loved his adopted daughter as if she were his own.


The adjective adoptive pertains to the person who has adopted. For example:
  • Rebecca loved her adoptive father as if he were her own.

More Formal Definitions of Adopted and Adoptive

Adoption is the act of legally placing a child with parents (or parent) who are not its natural parents. It has the effect of severing the parental responsibilities and rights of the birth parents and transferring them to the adoptive parents.  The child is said to be adopted.  The adopted child has two sets of parents: its natural parents and its adoptive parents.

Use Adopted or Adoptive with Places

It's easier with places because you can use adopted or adoptive. For example:
  • England is his adopted/adoptive country.
  • (Both are acceptable, but adopted is much more common.)
Interactive Test

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose?
What are adjectives? List of easily confused words