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I've seen online dictionaries defining the word differentiate as (along with other definitions):

  1. to mark or show a difference in : constitute a difference that distinguishes

  2. To perceive or show the difference in or between; discriminate.

Now, I understand the meaning difference "between things." However, I don't understand what "difference in" means. Does someone have an example usage that can help my understanding?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

"Difference in" is usually used to refer to a change in one thing, instead of noting the dissimilarity between two things. "I noticed a difference in the way you play piano now. It's so much softer than it used to be." "There's a difference in my attitude. I am happy at last."

"In" is also used when you are referring to the difference between two things by pointing out the difference itself (i.e. the ONE thing that's different). Consider these two ways of saying the same thing: "There's a difference in the way you use 'cold' and 'frigid'," versus "There's a difference between 'cold' and 'frigid'."

So use "in" with a single object, and "between" with a pair of objects.

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@Scott Thanks for the nice edit. –  John M. Landsberg Mar 12 '13 at 5:15
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