Difference Between Role and Function

Main Difference – Role vs Function

Role and functions are two words that can be used sometimes as synonyms. However, there is a subtle difference between role and function. The main difference between role and function is that role is a part played by someone in a particular situation whereas function is the duty of someone or the natural purpose of something.

This article explores,

1.What is a Role?
      – Definition, Characteristics, Examples

2.What is a Function?
      – Definition, Characteristics, Examples

3.What is the difference between Role and Function?

Difference Between Role and Function- Comparison Summary

What is a Role

Role can be defined simply as a part played by someone in a particular situation. We all play different roles in our lives. At home, we play the role of a parent, child or sibling. At work, we play the role of an employee. These roles are parts of our identities. Yet different roles are associated with different responsibilities, duties, and functions. For example, the role of a mother includes responsibility of protecting the child from harm whereas the role of a child involves the duty of respecting the parents.

Role can also refer to the professional position of a person or the part played by a person in a professional environment. For example, the role of a teacher may involve mediator of learning, disciplinarian, confidant to students, organizer of lessons, etc. The duties and functions of a profession are also associated with this word role, i.e., what the person in that position does in his professional capacity. For instance, a doctor’s role involve identifying medical conditions and treating patients.

The role of a police officer is to make sure that the law is obeyed.

What’s Jack’s role in this project?

She gave up her job and assumed the role of a caregiver.

Main Difference - Role vs Function

Role of a teacher may involve mediator of learning, disciplinarian, confidant to students, organizer of lessons, etc.

What is a Function

Function is defined as “the action or purpose for which a person or thing is suited or employed” by the American Heritage dictionary. The Oxford dictionary defines it as “practical use or purpose in design”. In simple terms, function refers to the natural purpose of something or the duty of a person. For example, the function of veins in the body is to carry blood to and from the heart; similarly, the function of a security guard is to ensure the security of a place.

People who play various roles in the society has different functions. The same applies to companies and organizations. For example, the function of a sales assistant is different from the function of the assistant manager of that company. Functions in this context refer to the duties held by a certain position. The word role is often used synonymously with function in this context.

No one knows what his function is within the company.

Mr. Anderson performs several important functions within the company.

His chief function is to provide legal advice to the firm.

Difference Between Role and Function

Difference Between Role and Function


Role: Role is a part played by someone in a particular situation.

Function: Function refers to the natural purpose of something or the duty of a person.


Role: A teacher plays the role of facilitator, mediator, organizer, confidante, etc.

Function: A teacher’s functions include organizing the lessons, teaching the students, assessing the student’s knowledge, etc.


Role: An individual can play different roles in different contexts.

Function: Each role has different functions associated with it.

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About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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