This tag is for questions about the differences in the meaning of two words.

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3
votes
1answer
17k views

'Preclude' vs 'Exclude' vs 'Prevent'

I'm trying to really understand how the word preclude differs from either exclude or include. Merriam Webster defines preclude as to make impossible by necessary consequence : rule out in advance ...
3
votes
1answer
4k views

“Fast” vs “Quickly” vs “Speedy” vs “Rapidly”

A similar question has been asked. However, is it possible to give (general) differences in usage of fast, quickly, speedy and rapidly? And with respect to the top answer: Are quick and fast ...
3
votes
4answers
9k views

Meaning of various valedictions or closing expressions

Related to, but I believe distinct from, the following questions: What does the "yours" in "yours sincerely" mean? What are some expressions that can be used to end an email? ...
2
votes
6answers
3k views

“Optimal” vs. “ideal”

I was wondering when to use which because both optimal and ideal convey the same meaning to me. For e.g., comparing these two usages: This is the optimal temperature for the machine to work ...
2
votes
2answers
5k views

“Could not have been” vs. “must not have been”

What's the difference between "could not have been" and "must not have been"? For example, That could not have been an easy task. That must not have been an easy task. I've seen both ...
2
votes
2answers
12k views

What are the differences between “seems not” and “doesn't seem”?

Are the following sentences correct? He seems not to want to help us and He seems want to help us. Is it correct if I use "seem" in a negative sentence? Which role does "seem" play? ...
1
vote
3answers
479 views

“When X is” or “When X will be”?

I always have a tough time with this. Suppose the following: The software will be installed when the computer is ready. versus The software will be installed when the computer will be ready. ...
1
vote
4answers
7k views

Are 'effectually' and 'effectively' completely interchangable?

In the OED: effectively, (adverb)—in such a manner as to achieve a desired result: make sure that resources are used effectively. effectual, (adjective)—successful in producing ...
15
votes
7answers
10k views

Difference between “commit suicide” and “suicide”

One of the examples in my English composition book (for learning to write my language's sentences in English) was "Why he committed suicide under such a good circumstance is an unsolved question.", ...
9
votes
3answers
6k views

Different conditional clauses — “if you saw”, “if you were to see”, “if you had seen”

Given the following sentences, what is the difference between the conditional clauses in them? If you saw a lion in a thick forest, what would you do? If you were to see a lion in a thick ...
8
votes
3answers
604 views

How to refer to dead and alive persons together?

Usually we refer to a dead person using the past tense. For example: Albert Einstein was wrong about... But when we are talking about both dead and alive persons in the same sentence, should we ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

“Inter-”, “multi-”, “cross-”, “trans-” in relation to disciplines

In academia the words inter-discipline, multi-discipline, trans-discipline, or cross-discipline are used to describe a type of combination between different disciplines or the uniqueness of a field. ...
7
votes
3answers
7k views

What's the difference between “jelly” and “jam”?

I've seen both words being used (peanut butter and jelly; peanut butter and jam), but I was wondering whether they were both words for the same thing, or if there's actually a distinct difference ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the difference between “raise” and “rise”?

What is the difference between raise and rise? When and how should I use each one?
6
votes
3answers
9k views

“Object of” vs. “subject of” — which one is correct? Does it depend on context?

(Tried to search to see if this question had already been asked, but could not find it amongst the many questions concerning pronoun declension and objects and subjects as parts of speech.) What, ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

“Do it very quickly” vs “do it ASAP”

What is the difference between these phrases? Please, do it very quickly, since the deadline is approaching. and Please, do it ASAP, because the deadline is approaching.
6
votes
2answers
2k views

How and when did “bash” and “do” come to mean party?

I am on my way to a faculty party at the university. The Head of Sciences is retiring and is throwing a huge bash, all his staff, selected external examiners like me and various scientists from ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

To friend vs. to befriend

I overheard a mother correct her child who said something to the effect of There was a new kid in my class today and I friended him. The mother said befriended and I was inclined to mentally ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

“Instant” vs. “instantaneous”

What is the difference between instant and instantaneous? Which is correct in this sentence? It had an almost __ response time.
5
votes
4answers
13k views

“The service is temporarily unavailable” vs. “…not available”

Is there a difference? Both versions are common. If there is a difference, which do I use when, and why?
5
votes
2answers
4k views

“Are they American?” or “Are they Americans?”

What is the difference bewteen Are they American and Are they Americans?
5
votes
3answers
14k views

'I hope it rains' or 'I hope it will rain'

I've been through several books for teaching English as a foreign language, and these structures are usually presented as exact synonyms. But isn't there a difference? Just by looking at the verb ...
5
votes
3answers
17k views

How is “I have come” + infinitive different from Present Perfect?

Consider the following examples: I have noticed that a lot of people are switching to Unity. vs. I have come to notice that a lot of people are switching to Unity. or: The Saddam I have ...
4
votes
4answers
3k views

What is the Pronunciation of “-sts” at the end of the word?

How can we pronounce words ending with -sts? lists costs tests I often heard people pronunce its like, lɪsts and kɒsts lɪsː kɔsː but which one is acceptable?
4
votes
1answer
1k views

What are the differences among ‘Rules’, ‘Standing Rules’, and ‘Bylaw’?

Recently I was given a document titled Standing Rules of an English speaking club of a local community, which was written in English, and asked to study the contents. I wondered what difference ...
4
votes
5answers
527 views

Whats the connotation of 'makeshift'? Is it negative, neutral, or positive like: creative?

I'm curious what the association(s) are with the word 'makeshift"
4
votes
3answers
3k views

“Economic” vs. “economical”

What is the difference between "economic" and "economical"?
4
votes
6answers
2k views

Can you call someone who chooses to quit his/her study in college an alumnus?

Oxford Dictionary of English on alumnus: a male former pupil or student of a particular school, college, or university Oxford Dictionary of English on dropout: a person who has abandoned a ...
4
votes
3answers
284k views

Difference Between “Sell” and “Sale”?

I'm a copy editor at a law firm and need to give a quick-and-dirty explanation of the difference between "sell" and "sale" to a native English speaker (a legal secretary) who is very self-conscious ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

Difference between “measurement” and “measuring”

What is the difference between the nouns measurement and measuring? Can I say the measurement has stopped the same way I can say the measuring has stopped?
4
votes
1answer
5k views

Difference between “therapy” and “treatment”

What is the difference between therapy and treatment?
3
votes
4answers
16k views

What is the difference, if any, between 'art', 'the arts', and 'Art'?

In answer to this question, there was some discussion about whether these two sentences are equivalent: Art nurtures the soul. The arts nurture the soul. Are they equivalent? 'The arts' is ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

“I live on beans and rice” vs. “I live off beans and rice”

I wanted to refocus a related question on ell.se. towards a possible deeper and direct relationship to "on vs. off". Consider the following two phrases: I live off beans and rice. (Approx 94,000 ...
3
votes
2answers
451 views

What is the difference between ‘Hot Corned Beef’ and ‘“Hot” Corned Beef’?

I have seen the phrase '"Hot" Corned Beef' on several convenience store signs in my area. Since corned beef is is usually served warm or hot, am I missing part of the meaning of the sign?
3
votes
3answers
4k views

“Approve (of),” “assent,” “consent,” and “grant”

I wonder if there is any difference in using approve (of), assent, consent, and grant as verbs. Can anyone help?
3
votes
2answers
3k views

“How deep” or “How deeply”?

In the sentence: How deep or deeply should I study something? Which of the two is more appropriate?
3
votes
1answer
4k views

“Pending” vs “Impending”. Are they synonyms?

They appear to me to mean almost if not exactly the same thing, but I am not sure. Are there differences in meaning between them?
3
votes
5answers
893 views

“Authoring” versus “Writing”

In my area of work the word author as a verb has become quite common. However, it seems to have a subtly different meaning than plain vanilla write. For example, one does not write software unit tests;...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Difference between “personal goals” and “Long/short-term objectives”

I've been asked by my employer to complete a "performance review". Within the context of my role at the company, it asks me for my "Long and Short Term Objectives" and my "Personal Goals". ...
3
votes
4answers
27k views

Difference between “unto” and “to”

What are the differences between "unto" and "to"? It seems that in many contexts where the word "unto" is used, "to" could be substituted and would be perfectly correct. It reminds me of flammable/...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

“To be elected chairman” vs. “to be elected the chairman”

I have a question regarding the correct use of the definite article "the": One of my books says: Definite article the is used before nouns denoting a position that can be held by one person ...
2
votes
4answers
624 views

Conjunction Puzzle: Is this clause dependent or independent?

Third grade teacher here. I plan to teach students to distinguish between simple, compound and complex sentences — but only if I can demonstrate a clear and meaningful difference between the latter ...
2
votes
4answers
19k views

“Nervous” vs. “anxious”

Are these words interchangeable? When would you use one over the other? For example, is it correct to say you "feel nervous" or "feel anxious"? Is it correct to say you are an "anxious person" or a "...
2
votes
2answers
6k views

Differences between “vulgar” and “coarse”, “crass”, “crude”, “rough”, “rude”, “unrefined” as applied to language

This question specifically covers how these terms are used to describe language, it is a followup to What's the difference between "informal", "colloquial", "slang", ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Why is there “Black English” but not “White English”?

African American Vernacular English is shortened to a less precise phrase "Black English". Also, Black English is used in a broader sense: Black English is a term used for both dialects of English ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

“I never was” vs. “I was never”

What is the difference between "I never was" and "I was never"? It seems that there is a subtle difference, but I can't quite grasp it. Is one of them informal? For example: I never was a good ...
1
vote
6answers
155 views

“Cost” vs “expense” — a usage question

While editing some ad copy, and I was given the sentence, "Defending a lawsuit can be a big cost for your business." (My italics.) I keep thinking the proper word to use is "expense" rather than "...
1
vote
2answers
95 views

What is the difference between travel and travelling?

I would like to ask whether someone can explain the exact difference between 'travel' and 'travelling' to me. Some dictionaries say that travelling is an adjective but other dictionaries say that ...
1
vote
1answer
270 views

I hope you live / I hope you will live

What is a correct way to say it: I hope you live for many years. or I hope you will live for many years? I am really confused by it since I've seen quotes of famous writers that said live but an ...
1
vote
2answers
9k views

What is the logical difference between “to seek” and “to look for”?

I have seen a non-native English speaker write "Still seeking for a job". That got me thinking, what is the difference between to seek and look for?