The word "vary" is used when there are differences among things or people. When they have different qualities and features, they vary.

simplepastpast participle
  • The climate in California varies. It depends on where you are in the state.
  • Results from our experiments varied. (We got several different results.)
  • Opinions on the topic of gun control vary.
  • There are varied opinions on this topic. (The word "varied" in this sentence is an adjective.)
  • His account of what happened last night varies from her version of events.
  • The personalities of the children in that family vary.

Related to the word "vary" are a few other words. The first one is "variety." The word "variety" is a noun. Use it when talking about many different things:

  • There’s a variety of fruit and vegetables at our local grocery store.
  • There isn’t much variety on this radio station. All the music sounds the same.
  • There are several different varieties of paint to choose from at the hardware store.

The word "various" is an adjective. This is a popular word to use when describing differences:

  • Picasso mastered various styles in creating his artwork.
  • Mary gave various reasons for why she was late, so no one believed her.
  • In our backyard we have various trees and plants.


The artwork at this gallery varies.

There’s a variety of artwork at this gallery.

(Note: The word "very" is an adverb. This is a completely different word.)

Click here to go to the Word of the Day page.

This page was first published on April 27, 2012. It was amended on February 22, 2015.