What's the Difference Between Reservation and Appointment?

One thing I've noticed while teaching English in Japan is the use of the words reservation and appointment. They basically mean the same thing, but for some reason it sounded strange to my ears to hear my students say they made a reservation at the hospital or that they have an appointment at a restaurant. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but knew there must be some general rule about the difference between the two words. Since I couldn't explain the difference off the top of my head, I decided to do some research. Here's what I found!


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Reservation

Reservation means an arrangement where something, especially a room or seat, is reserved for a particular person or event.

Examples:

I have a reservation at a popular restaurant downtown.

Do you have a reservation for first class?

We made a hotel reservation for the weekend.


Appointment

Appointment means an arrangement to meet someone at a particular time and place.

Examples:

I have an appointment with the dentist.

Don’t you have an appointment with your professor later today?

I made an appointment at the hair salon.


What’s the Difference?

So, when do we use reservation and when do we use appointment? If we break it down, the word reservation is used for things like restaurants, hotels, a seat, or a table somewhere. The word appointment is used for arrangements between two people like a doctor, dentist, teacher, or hair stylist.


Now that you have mastered the difference between making a reservation and making an appointment, check out some of my other English lessons!