He often quarrels with his wife.
He often fights (in words) with his wife.
He often argues with his wife.
Do all the three words 'quarrel', 'fight' and 'argue' fit in the sentences above? Could you tell me what their subtle difference is here if any?
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To argue and to fight are two different things. When two people are arguing it doesn't mean that they are fighting, they could be presenting their lines of argument in a calm and polite manner. Of course, an argument can turn into fight. I think to quarrel and to fight have similar meanings, not sure though.
This is my take:
There are several words with similar meanings but different degrees of disagreement.
A spat/ squabble is a small verbal exchange , usually occasional in nature which usually ends quickly
A quarrel usually is more of a shouting match between two parties involved who try to prove to each other that they are wrong or at fault
An argument is an emotional exchange of words from each party to prove a point or he his right
A fight typically is the violent resolution of the above.

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Thank you Akavall and Goodman very much for your answer. Goodman, according to your post, I have some questions to ask.
Do you mean 'fight' is physical violence when you said A fight typically is the violent resolution of the above?
A fight has a physical implication and a suggestion of unkind nature, whether it's verbal or physical, a fight is an aggressive attempt to overtake something.

The following meanings are extracted from ONline Dictionary:
To strive vigorously and resolutely: fought against graft; fighting for her rights.

To contend with physically or in battle.
To wage or carry on (a battle).
To contend for, by or as if by combat: "I now resolved that Calais should be fought to the death" Winston S. Churchill.

Hi Goodman,
Thank you again for your reply. What do you mean by emotional exchange of words for argument?
Thanks a lot
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<<<An argument is an emotional exchange of words>>>
When people argue, i.e. husband and wife, usually each party believes the other is wrong. As the argument goes nowhere, and if there is any the voices of reason left, it will usually transform into a shouting contest. Unkind words are often used on the offensive and raw emotions eventually take over. That the picture I tried to paint.
Hi Goodman,

Thank you for your explanation. I'm afraid I still can't tell the difference. According to the online dictionary, argue means to disagree with someone in words, often in an angry way. I think 'fight' and 'quarrel' can mean the same as above. Is 'fight' the most serious situation and 'argue' is the least serious situation?
Thanks a lot.
Hi Anon,

I really don't hear "quarrel" very often, in the U.S.

If I felt that someone didn't have a good marriage, I might say "They are always fighting." I would (just about) never intend that to mean they had a physical fight, but they did not get along well together. Teenage girls and their mothers seem to be this way a lot too.

If there was a specific area of disagreement - let's say the wife thought the husband was going to pick up the son from hockey practice but the husband had no memory of doing so, that might be described as a brief spat when he comes home without their son and she has to run out and pick him up.

If neither of them wanted to clean the cat box, they might argue over who did it last time, with no real acrimony.

You can argue in the sense of debating without involving harsh words. You can even have a good natured arguement, but I don't see how you can have a good-natured quarrel or fight.

You may be looking for nuances of difference that aren't really there.
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