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I just saw this come across my Twitter feed:

RT @hackernewsbot: Your Commute Is Killing You... http://www.slate.com/id/2295603/pagenum/all/ My two + hours every day confirm this...

That made me question for a moment if affirm would be preferred here? They seem like very similar words, and from the definitions I viewed I could make an argument either way.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Confirm means to check or establish the truth of some assertion; to affirm means to assert or testify the truth of something.

Using confirm in the sentence means "my experience is evidence or proof that your two-hour commute is..."; I'm not quite sure what using affirm would mean: "my two-hour commute asserts strongly"; I can't quite see how a two-hour commute could do such a thing; it would, I think, be trying to jam too much into the meaning To support or uphold the validity of; confirm which would normally mean a person doing so.

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I would even go further to say that only people can affirm something. Objects, or events may confirm my affirmation, but they are incapable of affirming themselves. – Sam May 31 '11 at 4:11
@Sam, pithily put. – Brian Hooper May 31 '11 at 5:59
+1, but why "check"? To check something is to try to confirm? – Cerberus May 31 '11 at 14:40
@Cerberus, I think the capital of Mongolia is Ulan Bator; I check the atlas, confirming it. Or don't I? – Brian Hooper May 31 '11 at 15:05
Ehh, I suppose they are very close. In many contexts they are interchangeable. I am trying to think of a counter example but it is hard. "Oh, I thought it was Paris? Let me check whether it is Paris or whatever you said." If you are about to confirm something, you already assume that it is true; if you're going to to check it, you don't assume that it's true yet. At least not always, as it is with confirm. – Cerberus May 31 '11 at 15:24

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