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Please, help me to understand the difference in meaning between "various" and "different".

Example sentence:

Various methods of inter-process communication are available in Windows.

Is it possible to build this sentence like:

Different methods of inter-process communication are available in Windows.

Is the second sentence correct? If yes, what would be the difference between the two?

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Two minor remarks. To me, "different methods" could be just two, while "various methods" sounds more broad, like "manifold" or "many different". Also, various is kind of self-contained, as in "different from one another", while different has a connotation of "another", "different from something else entirely", "different from something previously mentioned". That being said, "various" and "different" are being used interchangeably in many situations. –  RegDwigнt Sep 30 '10 at 11:56
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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

They are synonyms. Similar to what RegDwight pointed out, there is usually a connotation of many with "various," whereas "different" often refers to distinctions between 2 things.

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I agree with Flotsam, the key here is that 'different' implies some distinction between the subjects. –  kchau Sep 30 '10 at 15:16
    
They are synonymous in this meaning, but not in all their uses. –  Colin Fine Oct 1 '10 at 15:37
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I agree with all of the above, but there is another possibility: 'differing'. As the other participants say, 'different' implies 2, or something specific, whereas 'various' implies several ... but so to does 'differing' imply several.

to visit various places near to Hobart = to visit differing places near Hobart; but to visit different places near Hobart implies places that are unique or different in some way, like Richmond which is a heritage listed historical town, or Port Arthur which is the top tourism destination in Tasmania.

I hope this helps.

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For this usage, I think "various" is better, because "different" implies a comparison. Different from what?

For example: "OSX provides certain methods for inter-process communication, while different methods of inter-process communication are available in Windows."

"Different" is certainly used colloquially to mean "various," but I would avoid that in formal or technical contexts.

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thanks, helpful remark about colloquial nature of using "different" instead of "various" +1 –  rem Oct 3 '10 at 15:26
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