Is it Shutters or Shudders? Whats the Difference?

Have you ever wondered whether an old house shudders or shutters in the wind? Well, you aren’t alone. Shudder and shutter are homophones, and it isn’t always easy to tell them apart. Homophones are words that sound alike but have different meanings.

Depending on the context, Shudder and shutter can be a verb or a noun, but can never be interchanged. Keep reading to learn about these two words.

graphic giving the definitions of shudder and shutter with a graphic of a man shaking and a window shutter

The Difference Between Shudder and Shutter

In this article, we will compare shutter and shudder. We’ll use each of these words in at least one example sentence so that you can see them in context. Then, we will look at a mnemonic device that will help you choose either shutter or shudder for your writing.

When You Should Use Shudder

What does shudder mean? Shudder is both a verb and a noun.

As a noun, a shudder is an involuntary shake, like one does when one is surprised or startled.

An old building may shudder during a storm.

Examples

  • We all shudder to think of what may happen if Joe became president.
  • Tony shudders every time he hears someone runs their nails down a chalkboard.

Shudder is a regular verb, which means it follows the regular rules of verb conjugation.

Conjugating Shudder:

  • You shudder: second-person singular/plural present
  • I or we shudder: first person singular/plural present
  • They shudder: third person plural present
  • He, she, or it shudders: third person singular present
  • Shuddered: simple past
  • Shuddering: present participle

When You Should Use Shutter

What does shutter mean? Shutter can also be both a noun or a verb.

As a noun, shutter can either be a kind of covering for windows or it’s the device on a camera that exposes the sensor to light.

Examples

  • Sarah adjusted the speed of the shutter to achieve a running-water effect in her pictures of that waterfall.
  • Darrell closed the shutters on his window so that the neighbors could not watch while he changed his clothes.

As a verb, shutter means to close something. Normally, it refers to shutters on a window, but it has also come to mean closing a store by extension.

Examples

  • The grocery store chain shuttered 100 locations last year in an attempt to streamline business operations.
  • Raquel shuttered the windows of her bungalow to keep the sunlight out while she slept.

A Trick to Remember the Difference

Now that you know the basic meanings of these two words, let’s go over a trick to remember shudder vs. shutter.

  • Shudder refers to shaking, both as a noun and a verb.
  • Shutter refers to closing something, whether it’s the coverings of a window or part of a camera.

Since shutter contains the word shut, which is basically the meaning of the verb shutter, remembering when to use shutter is relatively simple.

Synopsis

Is it shudders or shutters? Both shudder and shutter can be a noun and a verb.

  • Shudder means to shake as a verb and an involuntary shake as a noun.
  • Shutter means a window covering or part of a camera as a noun and to close something as a verb.

We have an entire section dedicated to similar sounding words with a variety of articles on homophones!

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