Html tags: em vs. i, strong vs. b

What is the difference between <em> and <i>?
What is the difference between <strong> and <b> ?

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As a visual result <em> and <i> (italizing a text) are the same and so is <strong> and <b> (making a text bold).
The difference is on their semantic meaning.

<em> <!-- emphasizing the text they wrap -->
<i> <!-- just making the text italic -->
<strong> <!-- strongly emphasizing (strong importance) the text they wrap -->
<b> <!-- just making the text bold -->
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Jeff has answered this better than I could. These days folks tend to prefer and because they carry the value of the extra semantic meaning!

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Many folks ask this question, so MDN has sections specifically about this, if you want more references: