Possum vs. Opossum: Difference between Them for Grammar and Meaning

“Possum” and “Opossum” are two of a few English words that are confusing for some people. The two words are used interchangeably. Typically, “Possum” and “Opossum” are known to be animals. “Possum” is a noun word for a small animal, specifically a marsupial, found in Australia and New Zealand that lives in trees and has thick fur and a long nose and tail. “Opossum” is a noun, specifically an animal, that refers to an American marsupial that has a pointed snout and bare tail. Despite them being the same animal species, they are completely different from one another. So what are the key differences between Possum and Opossum? 

Listed below are the differences between Possum and Opossum. 

  • Native Home: Possum’s native home is America, specifically the northern part. Opossums are mostly found in Oceanic countries such as Australia and New Zealand. 
  • Pronunciation: Pronunciation is one of the differences between the terms “possum” and “opposum.” Besides the spelling, “possum” and “opossum” are pronounced differently as well. Just like its spelling, the pronunciation only differs a bit. Possum is pronounced as “paa-suhm”, while Opossum is pronounced as “uh-paa-suhm”. 
  • Size: Possum is slightly smaller than Opossum. 
  • Facial Features: The face of shape Opossum is pointed, while Possum’s face shape is rounded. 
  • Coating or Fur: Opossum’s fur is coarse, while Possum’s coat is thicker. Additionally, the color of opossum’s fur is white, while possum’s is golden brown. 
  • Tail: The tail of an opossum is called a bare tail because it does not have any fur. Possum’s tail has more fur. 

People still get confused about which of the two, possum or opossum, are they going to use. It is because North Americans pronounce “opossum” the same way they pronounce “possum”. They omit the letter “O” when they say “opossum”. It gets people confused about what animals they are referring to. There is a tendency that people are going to think that the one they are talking to is referring to a “possum” rather than an “opossum.” Certain kinds of mistakes are going to lead to confusion. Additionally, readers on a website are going to get confused if a mistake is made in the content. 

What is “Possum” and “Opossum”?

“Possum” and “opossum” are known to be animals. “Possum”, or Phalangeriformes, is a marsupial mammal that lives in Australia. Its life span is about 15 years and weighs an ounce to over 20 pounds (9.07 kg). “Opossum”, or Didelphidae, is another marsupial but is native to America. It weighs about 8.8 to 13.2 pounds (5.99 kg). However, these two animal species have been subject to confusion for a lot of people. It is known that the words have often been used interchangeably. Even dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster have stated that the two both pertain to the North America Virginia opossum. 

What does “Possum” mean in English?

“Possum” has many possible meanings in the English language. According to the dictionary, “possum” is a noun word for a small animal, specifically a marsupial, found in Australia and New Zealand that lives in trees and has thick fur and a long nose and tail. Other than being an animal, “possum” is used as an endearment to someone, as a verb, a name of a game, or as a part of the body. First, “possum” is used by Australians as an endearment name or nickname for their loved ones. In English, it is similar to babe or baby. The cuteness of the Australian possum resembles what is said to be the appearance of their partners. Second, “possum” plus the wordplay, create an idiom or verb. “Play possum” is an idiom that dictates someone to play death, feign sleep, or pretend ignorance. Third, the word “possum” refers to a drinking game as well, where players have to sit in a tree and have to drink 24 packs of beer. Possums are known to be tree dwellers. It is the reason behind the name of the game. Lastly, “possum” is used to refer to a body part, specifically the male genitalia. It is believed that the word “possum” originates from “aposum” which means “white animal”. The following is an example sentence wherein the word “possum” is used as its other meanings besides being an animal. “The flour on the countertop had fallen and spilled over the floor. The children played possum and did not tell who did it when asked by their mom,”. The sentence stated that the mom asked her children who were responsible for spilling the flour. However, the children acted like they did not know. Another example is: “My possum and I are going to spend our anniversary at a fine dining restaurant tonight”. The sentence means that the two couples are going to eat at a fancy restaurant. The word “possum” was used to indicate the partner of the other individual. 

How to use the word “Possum” in sentences properly?

Listed below are the steps on how to use the word “Possum” in sentences properly.

  • Know what form of the word is going to be used. According to the dictionary, “possum” is not only used to pertain to the animal. “Possum” is used as an adjective, an endearment, and a verb. Determine what possum is being referred to before constructing the sentence. 
  • Determine the features if it is the noun form of the word. Skip the step if it is not a noun. The noun form of the word refers to the animal. “Possum” differs from “opossum” in terms of its features and the place where they are found. Determine the animal being referred to avoid describing the latter that is going to create confusion. 
  • Add the appropriate helper words if the other form of the words is used such as an adjective or verb. Add prepositions or other helper words if the adjective or verb form of the word is going to be used. Possum is used to state that someone is feigning ignorance by adding the word “play” before it. Furthermore, by adding another word such as a noun after it states that “possum” is the adjective of the sentence. 

According to the dictionary, “possum” has many possible meanings compared to “opossum”. Its meaning depends on how it is used and placed in the sentence. “Possum” is used as a noun, verb, and adjective whereas “opossum” is only a noun based on the instruction list.

What does “Opossum” mean in English?

“Opossum” only means one thing unlike “possum.”  According to the dictionary, “opossum” is a noun, specifically an animal, that refers to an American marsupial that has a pointed snout and bare tail. They are generally small to medium size. Furthermore, they are active at night and sometimes hunted for their fur or meat. Additionally, they are skilled climbers that when threatened feign death by curling up their bodies and remaining motionless and unresponsive. It is believed that the word “opossum: originates from “aposum” as well which means “white animal”.

How to use “Opossum” in English Sentences properly?

Listed below are the steps on how to use “Opossum” in sentences correctly.

  • Know the features of the species. Use opossum to describe the animal that resembles a rat because of its bair tail and coarse fur. Additionally, opossums have white fur and black eyes. 
  • Determining where the animal is found. Use the word if the animal being referred to is a marsupial mammal that lives or is found in America. 
  • Determine the correct spelling. Many writers use the wrong spelling of words such as “opposum”, “oppossum”, “opussum”, “oposum”. The correct spelling is “opposum”. 

“Opossum” is only used as a noun unlike “possum” which stands as a noun, verb, or adjective.“Opossum”, in a sentence, is the name of an animal that lives in Australia. It makes it distinct from “possum” that is found in America. Opossum is not used to describe the characteristics of something or someone. Additionally, it is not used as an action word. Apart from that, both differ in articulation, how they look, and their size. 

Should you use a comma before or after “Opossum”?

Yes, a comma should be used before or after “Opossum.” Where to put the comma with the word “opossum” depends on the structure of the sentence. The most common correct usage of a comma in the English language is as a punctuation mark that indicates a short pause within the sentence. Additionally, it is used to separate words such as a single word from a cluster of words, one adjective from another, one independent clause from another, or a dependent clause. For example, “The mammal that is native to North America is called Opossum, while the one living in New Zealand is Possum.” The two stand-alone phrases were split by a comma in the sentence. An additional example is: “Common mammals living in America are raccoons, opossums, foxes, and squirrels”. Now that comma this time was used to separate different single words. 

How to Differentiate “Possum” and “Opossum”?

To differentiate “possum” and “opossum”, know how it is both pronounced. Possum is pronounced as “paa-suhm”, while “opossum” is pronounced as “uh-paa-suhm”. Additionally, they have different features that are very distinct from one another. It is another way to differentiate the two. Only possum is used, as opossum is only used to refer to the animal in different contexts. It is likely that possum is the one being referred to by the speaker if it is used as a verb or adjective. 

Do people confuse “Possum” and “Opossum” while speaking?

Yes, oftentimes, people confuse “possum” and “opossum”. There are instances wherein some North Americans omit the letter “O” when pronouncing “opossum”. “Opossum” now sounds like “possum”. However, that is not the right articulation of “opossum”. It is supposed to be pronounced as uh-paa-suhm instead of paa-suhm. Not only do they differ in the way it is pronounced, but their features are distinct from one another as well. 

How to Remember the Difference Between “Possum” and “Opossum”?

Listed below are the things to keep in mind to know the difference between “possum” and “opossum”

  • Listen carefully to the pronunciation. “Possum” is pronounced as paa-suhm, while “opossum” is uh-paa-suhm.
  • Know the place where one is staying. Know where the place that an individual is staying. It is likely that the animal is a “possum” if it is an Oceanic country. On the other hand, it is “opossum” if the place is America.
  • Check the tail. “Possum” and “Opossum” are totally two diverse animals as well. “Possum” has a hairy tail, whereas “opossum” barely has fur on its tail. Somehow its tail looks the same as the tail of a rat.
  • Check the size. It is likely to be a “possum” if it is small. “Possums” are deemed to be smaller than “opossums” in terms of size.
  • Check the face and fur. The face of a “possum” is round and its fur is golden brown, while “opossum” has a pointed face with black eyes and uneven teeth. Additionally, the opossum’s fur is rough and white. 

The question is when is Opossum vs Possum used? Use the word “opossum” if the animal that is being referred to lives in America. Otherwise, use the latter if it is in Australia. Furthermore, “possum” is used to say that something is small, mainly because of its size. “Possum” means something or someone is small when used as an adjective. Additionally, because of its courageous characteristics, it means that someone is brave as well when it is used as an adjective.

When to use “Possum” or “Opossum”?

The words “Possum” or “Opossum” are used when the individual is referring to marsupial mammals that either live in America or the Oceanic countries. Although, there are instances that these two words are used in the same sentence. For example, National Geographic stated that “There are several dozen different species of opossum, which are often called possums, in North America”. However, using both of the words without describing them is going to cause confusion to non-native English speakers. But, doing so is going to educate them about the differences between the two mammals. 

Where can you use “Possum” or “Opossum”?

The words “Possum” or Opossum” are used in sentences or everyday life conversations. They are commonly used to refer to an animal, specifically mammals that live in America, Australia, or New Zealand. People are allowed to incorporate these words in order for other individuals or readers to know what they are talking about. These words are sometimes used when the topic is about animals, such as books or web pages like National Geographic in content writing National Geographic is a photojournalism magazine in America that is published monthly that features various topics such as geography, archaeology, anthropology, and exploration. Animals like possums and opossums are discussed in these topics The words can be used in educational readings like the magazine to educate readers about their differences. National Geographic has created an article about “Possum” and “Opossum”. In the article, it states that “Opossums are scavengers, and they often visit human homes or settlements to raid garbage cans, dumpsters, and other containers”. Additionally, according to them, “Possums” are a suborder of 70 tree-living marsupial species native to Australia and the Indonesian islands of New Guinea and Sulawesi”. Moreover, they included photos of the animals to further see the distinction between them. 

What is the difference between “Possum” and “Opossum”?

“Opossum” and “Possum” are two different animal species despite being pronounced similarly. “Opossum” is a mammal native to America that has a pointed white face, with black eyes and jagged teeth. Its tail does not have any fur, larger, and resembles another animal, a rat. On the other hand, “Possum” is a mammal as well, but is native to Australia or New Zealand. Its face is rounder and has more fur than “Opossum.” Additionally, its color is golden brown and its size is smaller. Other than being two distinct animals, the two differ in context as well. “Opossum’ is only used to pertain to the animal, but “possum” has other forms. Besides being a noun that pertains to the animal, a “possum” is used as an adjective and a verb as well. “Possum” with the word “play” before it creates the verb form of the word that means “to play dead” or “feign ignorance”. For example, “The students played possum when asked who gave the key answers to the other section”. The sentence pertains to the student acting all innocent about giving the key answers to the test. Now, the adjective form of the word is created by adding another noun after it. For example, “The possum-like facial features of the girl made her attractive”. The sentence means that the individual has a charming 80.face, making the look appealing. 

What are the example sentences for “Opossum” and “Possum” differences?

Listed below are the example sentences for “opossum” and “possum” differences.

  • “The opossum (Didelphis) is represented by three or four species, two of which are so small that they are generally called wood rats.” The “opossum” in the sentence refers to the animal 
  • “The opossum of America was the only species out of Australasia which is provided.” The “opossum” in the sentence refers to the animal.
  • “It’s the weeds taking over if it isn’t the skunks and opossum killing the chickens.” The “opossum” in the sentence refers to the animal. 
  • “The common Australian opossum or phalanger (Trichosurus vulpecula) has been naturalized in New Zealand.” The “opossum” in the sentence refers to the animal. 
  • “Similar remarks are relevant to opossum rugs made in Australia.” The “opossum” refers to the animal that has been made into a rug. 
  • “The teacher cannot figure out if the students are playing possum.” The word “possum” plus “playing” means that the students are acting innocent. 
  • “The name for a baby wallaby, kangaroo, or possum is a Joey.” The “possum” in the sentence refers to the animal. 
  • “Some animals, like the possum, feign death when they face danger.” The “possum” in the sentence refers to the animal. 
  • “For once, his hammy acting is entirely appropriate, and I loved his brave possum character.” The word “possum” is used to describe a person’s courageous personality. 
  • “My mom is going to create a possum pizza.” The word “possum” in the sentence is used to describe the size of the pizza – a small pizza. The reason is possums are known to be small mammals. 

Why should Content Writers know the difference between “Possum” and “Opossum”?

Content writers must know the difference between the two words in order for them to improve the quality of their works. Content writers are supposed to be knowledgeable enough about the content they are writing by researching it. They are going to be labeled unprofessional and not credible if certain words are misused on their website’s content. It is going to reflect their expertise on their job and build a better communication for their readers. 

Does Grammar Errors Affect Search Engine Optimization Performance?

Yes, Grammar Errors Affect Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Performance. Search Engine Optimization Performance deals with improving the website’s visibility on the readers. Poor grammar and spelling is going to reflect how unprofessional the author is. Grammatical errors such as incorrect spelling and usage of words in writing unintentionally change what authors want to convey. It causes poor readability that is going to affect the SEO. The sentence is going to convey a different meaning to the readers in cases where a word is misused in a sentence. It gives the impression of the author not being knowledgeable, skillful, or credible enough to write high-quality content. The bounce rate of the website is going to be impacted if a reader does not find what they are searching for on the website. Bounce rate means that the reader viewed only one part of the website and left without engaging any further. It is going to hurt Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in the long run. It is vital to ensure all the content published is precise. Providing perfect, error-free content to the readers is crucial for SEO. Quality content matters in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Most websites that rank top contain quality written articles. Poorly written articles with misspelled and misused words is going to hurt a website’s. Grammar and spelling affects SEO depending on the search engine. Poor grammar and spelling primarily impact the content’s quality. The reader’s trust with the brand or website is going to be low, if the reader is going to see that content filled with spelling and grammar mistakes. It results in lessening the interaction of the readers with the website. There is a study that shows that web pages with poor grammar receive 4% fewer visitors and have significantly higher bounce rates. It resulted in reduced effectiveness of the content and lower ranking. Actually, it does not matter for Google if the content has poor grammar or spelling. However, the bounce rate of the website is what Google cares about more. Google is going to label the content not poor quality, if the bounce rate is high, resulting in the website or content being shown to a fewer population and is not going to generate traffic. 

Is using “Opossum”, or “Possum” wrong, has a harmful effect on E-A-T?

Yes, using the words “Opossum” and “Possum” creates a harmful effect on E-A-T. E-A-T, known as Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, is a 168-page concept that assesses the quality of Google search’s results. High-quality websites and contents have high E-A-T because the author of the page displays high expertise about the topic of the content. Additionally, the words and the sources included in the content are highly relevant to the topic and reflecting high authoritativeness of the website. Furthermore, the website increases its trustworthiness if the content is accurate. Wrong usage of words affects the E-A-T of the website, making it unreliable and not credible enough for the readers. Low E-A-T is going to result in low ranking of the web page or content.  

Does using “Opossum” and “Possum” in a sentence cause problems?

No, using “opossum” and “possum” in a sentence does not cause issues. It is because using either of the two is okay. They are both the same animal, but slightly differ in pronunciation and their features. The two words are both common English words and are not going to cause any difficulties. Readers are going to understand the sentences either way. 

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