Difference between Boat and Ship | Boat vs Ship

Confused whether to call a vessel that sails on a sea a ‘boat’ or a ‘ship’? What makes a ‘boat’ different from that of a ‘ship’? How do you know whether it’s ‘ship’ or boat? All these questions seem to bother students a lot. So to ensure that the next time you use these words, they are in the correct context, this article will walk you through whether ‘boat’ and ‘ship’ are different from one another.

There is no doubt that the English Language might give people of all ages a hard time since there are quite a few confusing words in this language. As some people use most words without knowing their meaning, it sometimes leads to incorrect usage. So to make sure that students avoid using these common messing up of the words ‘boat’ and ‘ship’, the following points will be discussed. Let’s have a look at them.

Table Summarising the Difference between Boat and Ship




Boat is used to refer to a small/mid-sized vessel used to travel on waterways.

Ships are very large vessels that generally travel on seas and oceans and are used to transport people as well as goods.


It is used as a Noun.

It is used as a Noun.


We took a boat to reach our next destination.

The Titanic was a very large ship.

As the chart above shows, though both ‘boat’ and ‘ship’ are used as a means of transportation across waterways, they can’t be treated synonymously or interchangeably. Once you go through the detailed explanation of the words, you will understand how or when you can use them.

The Difference between Boat and Ship – Meaning

If you see the images of ‘boat’ and ‘ship’, you can easily understand the difference between them. The ‘boat’ is the small/mid-sized vessel that is used to travel small distances through waterways. ‘Boats’ generally travel in small restricted waterways like rivers, lakes, coasts etc., to transport goods or people or are used for fishing purposes. ‘Boats’ use simple techniques and equipment for navigation. Depending on the size/structure of the boat, one or more people operate it. Whereas ‘ship’ is a reasonably large vessel that travels across large waterways like oceans and seas to transport goods/cargo and people. A large number of navigators are present in the ‘ship’ known as the crew, and they are headed by a captain. The navigation equipment and techniques are far more complicated than that of a ‘boat’. Thus there are some of the essential points of difference between ‘boat’ and ‘ship’. Let’s take a look at the examples.

Examples of Boat and Ship

Let us consider the given examples of ‘boat’ and ‘ship’ to understand the concept clearly.

Boat – Gondolas are a type of flat bottomed boat that is found in the Venetian canals. (noun)

Ship – The unsinkable ship sank after it hit an iceberg. (noun)

As soon as the students grasp the difference between the words ‘boat’ and ‘ship’, it becomes easier to understand.

Boat and Ship – Conclusion

So, ‘boat’ and ‘ship’ both are vessels that travel on waterways but can’t be used interchangeably or synonymously. Once students get this concept, it becomes easier for them to understand and use the terms correctly in sentences. Also, BYJU’S provides different articles on many such ‘differences between two words’ that students often get confused with.

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