Policy vs. Politics

Policy vs. Politics

“One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace good people don’t go into government.”

Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States 

Do you sometimes confuse “politics” and “policy”? If you do, this article is just right for you. Read on to know the difference as well as common politics and policy collocations and phrases.


Politics (plural noun) are the actions or activities concerned with achieving and using power in a country or society. The verb that follows “politics” may be either singular or plural:

She was active in local politics for many years.

Many people feel that their interests are not represented by mainstream politics.

I think politics is quite interesting.

He went into politics at the age of 30. He is my favorite politician.

Your politics are your political beliefs:

Her politics became more conservative as she grew older.

I don’t know what his politics are, but he strongly disagreed with the decision.

My politics are an open book.

Politics is political science:

He began studying politics and medieval history.

I got a scholarship to study politics.

There are some politics phrases which are worth remembering:

  • to play politics – to use politics for your own reasons, without caring about the effects on other people: He’s a straight shooter (he tells the truth), he doesn’t play politics, and he fights for the right things. Don’t play politics with the pension reform. 
  • office politics (the verb that follows may be either singular or plural) – the ways that power is shared in an organization or workplace, and the ways that it is affected by the personal relationships between the people who work there: It’s interesting how office politics influence the working environment. I try not to get involved in office politics.
  • party politics (the verb that follows may be either singular or plural) – political activity involving political parties: This is going beyond party politics. Party politics must not be allowed to jeopardize fundamentals such as the elections and the integrity of the electoral process.


A policy (variable noun (can be both countable and uncountable)) is a set of ideas or plans that is used as a basis for making decisions, especially in politics, economics, or business:

What is your party’s policy on immigration?

The company operates a strict no-smoking policy.

The company has set out its policies for future mineral development.

The school has an enlightened policy of teaching boys to cook.

A policy is a contract between an insurance company and a person or organization:

The policy has expired.

The insurance policy covers you for accidental loss or damage.

Read the wording of your policy very carefully.

All in all, politics can mean certain actions/activities (e.g. left-wing politics), a job (e.g. he is retiring from politics), a study (e.g. I study politics), or relationships in a group that allow particular people to have power over others (e.g. I hated office politics, that’s why I quit). A policy is a a set of ideas/plans (e.g. there are changes in foreign policy) or a document (e.g. details of the policy are provided in the accompanying booklet).


Choose the right word to complete the sentences:

  1. People must come first, not _____________ (politics/policy).
  2. What’s the government’s _____________ (politics/policy) on repatriation.
  3. There is a deliberate _____________ (politics/policy) to involve people of all ages in the scheme.
  4. He abandoned _____________ (politics/policy) and went into business.
  5. We have developed an open-door _____________ (politics/policy) for migrant workers.
  6. The government followed a _____________ (politics/policy) of restraint in public spending.
  7. He accused councillors of _____________ (doing/playing) politics with children’s education.
  8. Like it or loathe it, _____________ (party/office) politics are a fact of life in any organization.
  9. She’s heavily involved in local _____________ (politics/policy).
  10. They have introduced a _____________ (politics/policy) aimed at halting economic recession.


Answer key: 1. politics 2. policy 3. policy 4. politics 5. policy 6. policy 7. playing 8. office 9.  politics 10. policy

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