Headway Word of the Week

⇒ Learn more words in the Word of the Week archive


We act when there is a particular or urgent need for action.

  • The surgeons acted quickly to save her life.

We can act in particular ways which aren't normal.

  • Two men were acting suspiciously outside the bank yesterday evening.

We act when we play a role, in films and plays, but also in real life.

  • Jack went to drama school because he wanted to learn to act.
  • I'm acting the part of Romeo in the school play.
  • Peter is acting as if he doesn't care about the exams - but in fact he's very worried.
  • I don't speak French so you'll have to act as interpreter when we go to Paris.

Check out phrasal verbs

  • The police acted on the information they received from witnesses.
    ( = take action as a result)
  • Mr Smith's daughter will be acting for him during the enquiry because Mr Smith is too ill to attend.
    ( = represent)
  • My car's acting up. I'll have to take it to the garage.
  • My back's acting up. I'll have to go to the doctor's.
    ( = develop problems)

Check out expressions and collocations

The expression act out of is often followed by the following nouns that express a reason:

  • She acted out of love.
    ( = her excuse/reason for doing something was love)

Act is often used with an adverb.

  • He acted badly.

The following adverbs often collocate with act:

Check out how act is different from behave

Behave is a synonym of act when it means to act in a particular way.

  • Two men were behaving (or acting) suspiciously outside the bank yesterday evening.

Behave does not have the other meanings of act.

  • The doctors had to act quickly to save John's life. (not behave)

Behave (and not act) is used to describe whether people are well-mannered and don't cause trouble, especially with children.

The children have behaved very well today. (not acted)

Check out other related words

  • play
  • perform
  • take the part of

↑ top ↑

⇒ Learn more words in the Word of the Week archive