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If I have two ways of doing the same thing, one requiring more input or effort than the other but also allowing for more customization, how should I label the two?

The simple way and the custom way

The basic way and the custom way

Are simple and basic really synonyms in this situation?

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Well, nobody programs in Visual Simple, though lots of simple people program in Visual Basic, so these are not synonyms :D If anyone is looking for me, I'm gone. –  Kheldar Aug 28 '11 at 12:56

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Simple and basic are not completely synonymous, although they are generally similar. According to the OALD, basic means:

forming the part of something that is most necessary and from which other things develop

So something is basic if it can serve as a building block for other things. For example, an atom could be considered a basic part of chemistry because other compounds build up from it.

Simple means:

not complicated; easy to understand or do

Some people may say that an iPod is simple to use--it is very intuitive. An iPod, however, is complex and wouldn't be described as basic.

So in your case, I would think that it depends on what these "ways" are. If the non-complex way is the building block for the complex way, use basic. If both methods accomplish the same ends, and don't overlap as much, use simple.

Note that you can consider the two words synonyms if you use secondary definitions. You could use either word, if you wanted, and still be correct.

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Sometimes basic is used to mean foundational. I recall from one of my college texts: http://www.amazon.com/Basic-Algebra-Second-Nathan-Jacobson/dp/0486471896/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1314548545&sr=8-2

The basic algebra they talk about is groups, rings, fields and a algebras.

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Simple is uncomplicated, while basic is rudimentary.Which do you think describes your task better?

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I think this answer is comprehensive enough. –  Tarik Aug 28 '11 at 11:57
    
@Braveyard: Not only that, but adding too much verbiage runs the risk of introducing irrelevant, confusing, or even incorrect information into an answer, diluting its value. I find this answer not only shorter than the accepted one, but clearer, more informative, and more correct. –  John Y Aug 28 '11 at 13:02

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