Ask Difference

Impressive vs. Impressing — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Maham Liaqat — Published on May 21, 2024
"Impressive" describes something that evokes admiration through its quality, size, or skill, whereas "impressing" refers to the act of making a notable impact on someone or something.
Impressive vs. Impressing — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Impressive and Impressing


Key Differences

"Impressive" is an adjective used to characterize entities, achievements, or performances that stand out due to their excellence, grandeur, or effectiveness, naturally invoking a sense of admiration or awe. On the other hand, "impressing" is the gerund or present participle form of the verb "impress," highlighting the ongoing action or process of causing someone to feel admiration or respect.
While "impressive" often denotes a passive quality inherent to the object or person being described, "impressing" suggests an active interaction between the subject and the observer, where the subject's actions or qualities are causing an impression. An impressive artwork captivates due to its intrinsic beauty or complexity, whereas impressing someone might involve intentional actions tailored to elicit approval or admiration.
In the realm of communication, describing something as "impressive" can be a way to offer praise or recognition for its merits, without implying any effort on the part of the object to achieve this effect. In contrast, "impressing" often implies a degree of intent or effort by the subject to influence the observer's perception or feelings, which can occur in social, professional, or competitive contexts.
Both "impressive" and "impressing" play roles in social dynamics and perceptions. Something impressive naturally garners attention and respect, enhancing the status or reputation of the associated individual or entity. Meanwhile, the act of impressing involves more dynamic interactions, where individuals or groups actively seek to establish or improve their standing, influence, or relationships within a given context.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech

Gerund/Participle (Verb)


Describes something that evokes admiration or awe due to its qualities
Refers to the act of making a notable impact or influence


Intrinsic quality or characteristic of being remarkable
Process or effort aimed at eliciting admiration or respect


Often used to acknowledge excellence or superiority in a passive sense
Involves active engagement or effort to affect others' perceptions


An impressive landscape, an impressive feat of engineering
Impressing judges in a competition, impressing during a job interview

Compare with Definitions


Commanding admiration through size, quality, or skill.
The museum's impressive collection includes works from the Renaissance period.


Actively influencing someone's feelings or beliefs positively.
He's been impressing the management with his innovative ideas.


Having the ability to impress the mind or feelings strikingly.
The team's comeback in the final quarter was truly impressive.


Engaging in actions aimed at gaining approval or admiration.
She's focused on impressing her peers with her commitment to social causes.


Remarkable and deserving recognition.
She has an impressive track record in the field of environmental science.


Endeavoring to evoke a specific response or acknowledgment through one's actions.
The company is impressing potential investors with its rapid growth.


Distinguished by its excellence.
The chef prepared an impressive array of dishes for the banquet.


Making a mark or impact through one's actions or presence.
The young artist is impressing audiences with her unique style.


Eliciting respect or admiration through being notably good or powerful.
The new software demonstrates impressive capabilities in data analysis.


The process of leaving a lasting positive impression on someone.
By volunteering, he's impressing upon the community the importance of service.


Making a strong positive impression; inspiring admiration or awe
An impressive achievement.


To affect strongly, often favorably
Wrote down whatever impressed me during the journey.
Was impressed by the child's sincerity.


Making, or tending to make, a positive impression; having power to impress
An impressive speech
An impressive movie


To compel (a person) to serve in the military, particularly in the naval forces, especially by seizure.


Making, or tending to make, an impression; having power to impress; adapted to excite attention and feeling, to touch the sensibilities, or affect the conscience; as, an impressive discourse; an impressive scene.


The act of impressing
A design left by impress of a seal.


Making a strong or vivid impression;
An impressive ceremony


Present participle of impress


Producing a strong effect;
Gave an impressive performance as Othello
A telling gesture

Common Curiosities

Q: What's a good example of "impressing" in action?

A: "The young scientist is impressing the conference attendees with her innovative research."

Q: How can I use "impressive" in a sentence?

A: "The chef's ability to create such complex flavors was impressive."

Q: Is "impressing" always a positive action?

A: While "impressing" typically has a positive connotation related to gaining admiration, it can also be used in neutral contexts, such as impressing a stamp into wax.

Q: Can a person be both impressive and impressing at the same time?

A: Yes, an individual can possess impressive qualities and also be actively impressing others with those qualities in a given situation.

Q: Can inanimate objects be described as "impressing"?

A: Typically, "impressing" is used for agents capable of action, but it can be applied metaphorically to inanimate objects in creative contexts.

Q: Can something be impressive without actively impressing someone at the moment?

A: Yes, something can be inherently impressive, like a historic monument, regardless of whether it's actively being observed and admired.

Q: How does one transition from "impressing" to being "impressive"?

A: Through consistent demonstration of admirable qualities or achievements, one's actions ("impressing") can lead to recognition of their inherent qualities ("impressive").

Q: Can "impressive" describe a negative feature?

A: Although "impressive" usually denotes positive attributes, it can be used in negative contexts for emphasis, like "an impressive lack of judgment."

Q: How does context affect the use of "impressive" vs. "impressing"?

A: The context determines whether the emphasis is on inherent qualities ("impressive") or the active demonstration of qualities ("impressing").

Q: Is "impressive" subjective?

A: Yes, what is considered "impressive" can vary greatly based on individual preferences, experiences, and cultural backgrounds.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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