Difference between Teen and Tween

Key Difference: Tweens refer to a person who hasn’t yet entered the teen years, but they are too young to be called a child. And teenagers are people between the ages 13-19.

TweensContrary to the popular belief, the English language is one of the most difficult languages to learn. Adding jargons and colloquialisms to the mix makes this language even harder for the people who are not familiar with it. This works especially with each country that speaks English as their primary language since they all have country specific words, and today’s topic covers two of them.

For a lot of Americans, these two words are heard quite often, but other countries may not have heard these words or may have other words of their own. ‘Tweens’ and ‘Teens’ are two words that refer to age groups of children. They are used to define a specific period in the lives of a person. While the word, teenager or teen is more popular and used globally, the word, tween is still specific to the United States. Let’s take a look at what the two words mean and why they are similar but quite different from each other.

Teen or Teenager, is a word that is used to describe people between the ages 13 and 19. This is fixed, someone aged 12 and under or 20 and older cannot legally fall under the term teenager. It was derived from the years that end in the suffix –teen. So, thirteen to nineteen are often referred to someone’s teenage years. This period is often where a person goes through massive changes including puberty – a phase where a person’s body changes and grows to prepare for adulthood. This period often marks changes in height, weight, sleep patterns, body odor, growth of body hair and the start of menstrual cycle (for women), etc.

TeensTween is a fairly new word but it has now become a popular word used to describe the years just before the teenage years. The years aren’t specified, and some references suggest 9-12 year olds, the others list 10-12 years of age for tweens. While, there is no official definition for tween, general definitions describe this as the time just before a person hits the teenage years – too old for teenage and too young to be referred to as a child or a kid. These years are often marked with changes in clothes, style and choices. Individuals are often said to graduate from childish cartoons to more mature styles and viewing choices. Some individuals can also experience puberty during this stage.

As you can see, while both the words are complimentary they are still different from each other. Tweens refer to a person who hasn’t yet entered the teen years, but they are too young to be called a child. And teenagers are people between the ages 13-19. 

Comparison between Teen and Tween:




Age Group




A person who is between ages 13 and 19, all numbers ending in the suffix -teen.

A person just before hitting the teenager years. They could be older for being considered a child, but not yet a teenager.

Also known as


Pre-teen, Preadolescence

Preceded By


Kid or Child

Followed By

Young Adult


Changes Associated

Changes in height, size, sleep patterns and puberty

Some children might go through puber ty earlier, but changes mostly are minor

Reference: Quora, Wikipedia, EMarketer, Grammarist, Tweenhood
Image Courtesy: parents.com, anchoredhopecounseling.net

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