Environment is defined as “the conditions that affect the behaviour and development of somebody or something and the physical conditions that somebody or something exists in”.
For example, a pleasant working environment or a favourable learning environment. A conflictive home environment can affect a child’s development. A constructive political environment can encourage pacts between parties which benefit the common good.
The environment also refers to the natural world in which people, animals and plants live. We talk today about environmental pollution or damage to the environment. There are numerous compounds as well, like environmental issues, environmental lobbies and environmental action groups. We talk about environmentally–friendly products, farming, industries, manufacturing processes and packaging. An environmentalist is someone who is concerned about the natural environment and needs to care and protect it.
However, there are some confusing synonyms too.
Setting: A place or situation in which something happens or exists. “A beach might be a perfect setting to see a sunset”.
Surroundings: Everything that is around or in the vicinity. “His stone–built country house blends in with the surroundings”.
Background: The things that are around or behind the main objects that are in a place. “In the background we could see children playing”.
Backdrop: Scenery surrounding an event. “The concert took place against the backdrop of the Pyrenean Mountains”.
Ambience (often confused): Refers to the character and atmosphere of somewhere. “A relaxing ambience of a city park”.
You shouldn’t confuse “environment” with “ambience”. We hope you appreciate that the two are very different, yet Spanish students use the former instead of the latter quite frequently.
Happy English learning!!
We’ll be back after a short summer break