I've been told before, by a Portuguese speaker, not to use the verb usar to describe using a tool. They told me to use utilizar instead. I've also seen empregar used in similar situations.
Which of those verbs are appropriate for referring to using a tool, technique, or word or phrase? Which are more commonly used for this? Do they have different connotations when used in this way? Is there a better alternative that I've missed?
When I check a dictionary, it looks to me like all three could work. I can't tell the difference from the definitions I found (unrelated definitions not included below):
Pôr em uso, pôr em prática. (Usa-se também com a preposição de.)
Empregar, servir-se de.
- Servir-se de.
- Empregar utilmente.
- Sacar partido de; aproveitar.
- Fazer uso de; servir-se de; gastar, despender; preencher.
(Please feel free to respond in either Portuguese or English. I didn't feel that I could express this question correctly in Portuguese, by its nature.)