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Intensive vs. Extensive: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Intensive refers to a focused and in-depth approach with concentrated effort or characteristics, while extensive denotes a broad, comprehensive method that covers a large area or scope.
Intensive vs. Extensive

Key Differences

Intensive actions or processes are characterized by a high degree of concentration and depth in a specific area. In contrast, Extensive actions or processes spread their focus across a wide area or range, emphasizing breadth over depth. For instance, intensive reading might involve deeply analyzing a short text, while extensive reading would entail skimming through a large volume of material.
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Nov 12, 2023
In an Intensive approach, resources, efforts, or inputs are heavily concentrated in a small area or on a single aspect, leading to a thorough and in-depth exploration or utilization. On the other hand, an Extensive approach distributes resources, efforts, or inputs over a large area or numerous aspects, often resulting in a broader, but less concentrated, impact. For example, intensive farming uses more resources per unit of land, yielding higher production per hectare, whereas extensive farming uses fewer resources over a larger area, resulting in lower production per hectare.
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Intensive methods often require a higher level of detail and expertise, focusing on quality and intricacy. In contrast, Extensive methods prioritize quantity and coverage, sometimes at the expense of detail and depth. In education, intensive learning focuses on understanding a topic in great depth, often requiring more effort and expertise, whereas extensive learning covers a wider range of topics, but with less depth in each.
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Intensive strategies are typically associated with a high level of engagement and are often more resource-intensive, both in terms of time and materials. Extensive strategies, meanwhile, involve a lower level of engagement per unit or subject, and are generally less resource-intensive on a per-unit basis. For instance, in language learning, intensive strategies might involve in-depth study of grammar and vocabulary, while extensive strategies might include reading or listening to large amounts of content for general comprehension.
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Nov 12, 2023
The choice between Intensive and Extensive methods depends on the objectives and resources available. Intensive methods are more suitable for tasks that require detailed attention and precision, while Extensive methods are better for tasks that require a broad overview or wide-ranging coverage. For example, in research, an intensive approach might involve a detailed case study, while an extensive approach might involve a large-scale survey covering a wide demographic.
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Comparison Chart

Focus

Narrow and deep
Broad and general
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Scope

Limited but detailed
Wide but less detailed
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Effort

High concentration per unit
Spread evenly over a large area
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Engagement

Deep and thorough
Broad but possibly superficial
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Resource Allocation

High per unit area or aspect
Lower per unit area or aspect
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Intensive and Extensive Definitions

Intensive

Intensive denotes high effort or input per unit.
Intensive farming uses more resources per hectare.
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Extensive

Extensive covers a wide range or scope.
Her extensive knowledge of history impressed everyone.
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Intensive

Intensive is characterized by thorough engagement with a subject.
His intensive study of the language made him fluent.
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Extensive

Extensive involves comprehensive and overall coverage.
The extensive report included every aspect of the project.
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Intensive

Intensive often means concentrated in a small area.
The intensive care unit focuses on critical health cases.
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Extensive

Extensive denotes large-scale operations or effects.
Extensive farming cultivates large areas with minimal inputs.
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Intensive

Of, relating to, or characterized by intensity
Intensive training.
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Oct 19, 2023

Extensive

Extensive implies covering a large area or range.
They conducted an extensive search for the missing artifact.
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Intensive

(Grammar) Tending to emphasize or intensify
An intensive adverb.
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Oct 19, 2023

Extensive

Large in extent, range, or amount.
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Oct 19, 2023

Intensive

Possessing or requiring to a high degree. Often used in combination
Labor-intensive.
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Oct 19, 2023

Extensive

Of or relating to agricultural production that requires large areas of land but minimizes the input of labor or materials.
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Oct 19, 2023

Intensive

Of or relating to agricultural production that achieves high yields per acre of land but requires significant input of labor or materials.
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Oct 19, 2023

Extensive

Having a great extent; covering a large area; vast.
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Intensive

(Physics) Having the same value for any subdivision of a thermodynamic system
Intensive pressure.
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Oct 19, 2023

Extensive

(figurative) Considerable in amount.
I have done extensive research on the subject.
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Oct 19, 2023

Intensive

A linguistic element, such as the adverb extremely or awfully, that provides force or emphasis. Also called intensifier.
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Oct 19, 2023

Extensive

Serving to extend or lengthen; characterized by extension.
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Oct 19, 2023

Intensive

Thorough; to a great degree; with intensity.
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Oct 19, 2023

Extensive

(physics) Having a combined system entropy that equals the sum of the entropies of the independent systems.
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Oct 19, 2023

Intensive

Demanding; requiring a great amount of work etc.
This job is difficult because it is so labour-intensive.
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Oct 19, 2023

Extensive

Having wide extent; of much superficial extent; expanded; large; broad; wide; comprehensive; as, an extensive farm; an extensive lake; an extensive sphere of operations; extensive benevolence; extensive greatness.
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Intensive

Highly concentrated.
I took a three-day intensive course in finance.
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Extensive

Capable of being extended.
Silver beaters choose the finest coin, as that which is most extensive under the hammer.
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Oct 19, 2023

Intensive

(obsolete) Stretched; allowing intension, or increase of degree; that can be intensified.
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Oct 19, 2023

Extensive

Large in spatial extent or range;
An extensive Roman settlement in northwest England
Extended farm lands
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Intensive

Characterized by persistence; intent; assiduous.
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Extensive

Having broad range or effect;
Had extensive press coverage
Far-reaching changes in the social structure
Sweeping reforms
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Intensive

(grammar) Serving to give force or emphasis.
An intensive verb or preposition
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Extensive

Large in number or quantity (especially of discourse);
She took copious notes
Extensive press coverage
A subject of voluminous legislation
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Intensive

(medicine) Related to the need to manage life-threatening conditions by means of sophisticated life support and monitoring.
She was moved to the intensive-care unit of the hospital.
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Extensive

Great in range or scope;
An extended vocabulary
Surgeons with extended experience
Extensive examples of picture writing
Suffered extensive damage
A wide selection
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Oct 19, 2023

Intensive

(linguistics) A form of a word with a stronger or more forceful sense than the root on which the intensive is built.
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Oct 19, 2023

Extensive

Of agriculture; increasing productivity by using large areas with minimal outlay and labor;
Producing wheat under extensive conditions
Agriculture of the extensive type
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Oct 19, 2023

Intensive

A course taught intensively.
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Extensive

Extensive often refers to a general rather than specific focus.
His extensive reading made him well-informed.
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Nov 12, 2023

Intensive

Stretched; admitting of intension, or increase of degree; that can be intensified.
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Oct 19, 2023

Intensive

Characterized by persistence; intent; unremitted; assiduous; intense.
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Oct 19, 2023

Intensive

Serving to give force or emphasis; as, an intensive verb or preposition.
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Oct 19, 2023

Intensive

Designating, or pertaining to, any system of farming or horticulture, usually practiced on small pieces of land, in which the soil is thoroughly worked and fertilized so as to get as much return as possible; - opposed to extensive.
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Oct 19, 2023

Intensive

That which intensifies or emphasizes; an intensive verb or word.
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Intensive

A modifier that has little meaning except to intensify the meaning it modifies;
`up' in `finished up' is an intensifier
`honestly' in `I honestly don't know' is an intensifier
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Intensive

Characterized by a high degree or intensity; often used as a combining form;
The questioning was intensive
Intensive care
Research-intensive
A labor-intensive industry
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Intensive

Tending to give force or emphasis;
An intensive adverb
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Intensive

Of agriculture; intended to increase productivity of a fixed area by expending more capital and labor;
Intensive agriculture
Intensive conditions
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Intensive

Intensive implies a concentrated and focused approach.
She underwent intensive training for the marathon.
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Intensive

Intensive involves deep and thorough exploration.
The intensive research led to groundbreaking discoveries.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Does extensive farming use fewer resources per unit?

Yes, it uses resources more sparsely over a larger area.
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Are intensive courses shorter?

Often, they're shorter but more focused and demanding.
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Can a project be both intensive and extensive?

Rarely, as intensive focuses on depth while extensive on breadth.
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Is intensive learning better than extensive?

Depends on the learning goal; intensive is for depth, extensive for breadth.
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Is an intensive approach more expensive?

Generally, it requires more resources and can be more costly.
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Does extensive reading require more time?

Yes, as it covers a broader range of material.
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Can extensive reading improve knowledge?

Yes, it covers a wide range of subjects and increases general knowledge.
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Are intensive workouts more effective for fitness?

They can be, due to their focused and high-effort nature.
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Can an extensive approach be less stressful?

It can be, as it's less concentrated and more spread out.
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Can extensive learning lead to a well-rounded education?

Yes, as it covers a wide range of subjects.
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Can extensive work lead to surface-level understanding?

It can, as the focus is broad rather than deep.
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Is intensive study suitable for all students?

It depends on the student's learning style and goals.
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Does extensive travel give a broad perspective?

Yes, it allows experiencing a wide variety of cultures and places.
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Is intensive training more demanding?

Yes, due to its concentrated and focused nature.
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Can extensive projects be more inclusive?

Yes, as they can involve a larger number of participants or areas.
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Nov 12, 2023

Does intensive work require more expertise?

Often, as it demands deeper knowledge and skills.
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Nov 12, 2023

Can extensive activities be less intensive?

Yes, they often require less intensity per unit or area.
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Is intensive therapy more focused on specific issues?

Yes, it targets specific problems with concentrated effort.
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Are intensive courses more immersive?

Yes, they immerse students deeply in the subject matter.
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Is an intensive approach better for quick results?

It can be, due to its focused and thorough nature.
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Nov 12, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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