A vital person vs. a lively person

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WRONG: My friend packs so much into his day. He is such a vital person.
RIGHT: My friend packs so much into his day. He is such a lively person.

This week’s Czenglish mistake is not one that is said so often – but it is one that has been problematic for a number of my students. It is about the difference between vital and vitality.

They seem like different forms of the same word. But they are not quite the same. Vitality is the state of being full of life or energy. For example, ‘Even though my grandad is 90 years old, he has lost none of his vitality.’

But vital is not the adjective. Vital means very important or essential. So, for example, ‘Water is vital for life’ or ‘You perform a vital role in this company.’

If you want to use an adjective for vitality, the best one is probably lively – meaning full of life.

Here are both adjectives used together in a football example:

Cristiano Ronaldo is a vital player for Real Madrid. He is never lazy – he is always so lively on the football pitch.