in the following sentence which word is most appropriate: arrange or rearrange?

The rules for Building A House are mixed up. Cut out the rules and arrange/rearrange them into the correct order.

This sentence is created by myself as an example. I have asked people and have received mixed replies. I have been told that because the rules were in the correct order previously, rearrange is most correct, but it doesn't sound right to me. Any help would be great.

2 Answers 2


I think either would be perfectly understood, but I'd prefer 'arrange' in this particular case.

You've said that the rules are 'mixed up'; this suggests a random order with no prior 'arrangement'. Added to which, you've asked for the rules to be cut out, with unpredictable results. I don't think this qualifies as "arrangements already made" as noted in this definition of rearrange:

to ​change the ​order, ​position, or ​time of ​arrangements already made: (--Cambridge Dictionaries Online


The original answer of rearrange being the proper word to apply to a revision of an existing thing is correct. Yet, your resistance to this can be surmised if one takes the whole sentence into account. To make headway with this, first consider the difference in meaning of the two words as they apply to your example:

Arrange: [transitive] to put something in a particular order; to make something neat or attractive

Rearrange: [transitive] to change the position or order of things; to change your position

Your sense that either would be correct is not unwarranted in this case. The sentence Cut out the rules and arrange/rearrange them into the correct order instructs one to destroy the original by cutting out the rules and then set a new order. Looking at it in this way, arrange could be seen to convey an altogether new creation.

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