In DSE paper 2 and 4, the questions often require candidates to discuss on an issue and give out your opinion and feasible solutions. “Solve” and “resolve “are the most highly-used verbs when it comes to dealing with problems or issues. Here is the explanation of how to these two words.

“Solve” and “resolve” both mean “to deal with” in the Chinese dictionary, but they differ slightly in English contexts.


  • Solve is generally used to mean find a solution

A problem, mathematical or mysterious can be solved. The word solve is a verb and a logical answer solves the problem. It emphasizes on whether you have the solution.


  • Resolve is to solve or end a problem or difficulty

A problem resolved is not necessarily the solution everyone wants but it is the conclusion reached and the problem is therefore resolved. It can be used to solve a problem between two or more parties, but the end result may not necessarily be satisfactory to everyone.

The words “solve” and “resolve” look very similar at first glance. They are almost spelt the same and sound alike but the underlying meaning of each word in context is different.


When you want to say that a social issue has not been solved, the point is that there is no solution, or no one implements any solution, use “solve”.

e.g. No one has solved the problem of what to do with radioactive waste.


If you want to emphasize the end result, use “resolve”.

e.g. How can we resolve this apparent contradiction?


It is when emotion and sentiment come into play, you can use “resolve your doubt/concern/confusion/feelings” or “unresolved”.

e.g. I may have some unresolved anger from my childhood.