What's the difference between: 'his question didn't include a link on Yahoo answers? ' and 'his question didn't contain a link on Yahoo answers? ' (I want to say there wasn't a link in his question on Yahoo answers).

Someone mentioned there are subtle differences, but just can't tell what they are, so I am wondering that you guys here might have the answer. please help me out. thanks folks!

By the way, I am a freshman here. any opinion that regarding the DIFFERENCE between them are appreciated, please feel free to express your opinion, thank you very much your answers!

  • 2
    contain just talks about presence. inclusion gets at intent
    – Jim
    Jun 6 '17 at 1:15
  • The rental of a car from XYZ Co includes the use of a downtown garage slot. But I doubt that you can make the car contain the slot.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 6 '17 at 22:31
  • it's a helpful real life example to better understand the difference, thanks.
    – user239460
    Jun 7 '17 at 4:38

There's indeed a subtle but important difference between these two terms in the context of the scenario you describe.

Include expresses a greater degree of ownership over the object in question (the link) and seems to suggest the user actively worked to incorporate it in their answer. This connotation arises from the fact that including is something a user does, but the answer is what contains (something). In other words, the two terms emphasize two different aspects (the user or the answer) of the same scenario. Contain merely refers to the link appearing somewhere in the answer.

In all honesty, though, one term isn't more appropriate than the other. You could say:

Your answer should contain a link.

Or you could also say:

You should include a link in your answer.

But it doesn't matter which you choose.

  • thank you very much for your helpful answer! so you mean contain merely talking about the presence of the object(the link), whereas include suggest intention involved with the link?
    – user239460
    Jun 6 '17 at 2:27
  • @user239460 Precisely.
    – AleksandrH
    Jun 6 '17 at 10:31
  • alright, i think i am close to discern the difference between them.
    – user239460
    Jun 7 '17 at 4:44
  • Also worth noting is that you could say an answer contains OR includes a link (in the latter case, it's sort of like personifying the answer), but you CAN'T say a user contains a link. in that sense, contain strictly refers to what the answer has in itself, while include is a bit more flexible.
    – AleksandrH
    Jun 7 '17 at 10:44
  • thanks for you reminding. right now i shape up my understanding as: contain means what's originally within; include means the extra has been added to as a part of the whole thing, it emphasizes on the part rather the whole. contain is natural whereas include is intended.
    – user239460
    Jun 7 '17 at 15:20

Purely in the context of the question, there ins no relevant difference between contain and include.

Normally, though, the difference is by no means subtle

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=to+contain&rlz=1C5CHFA_enGB718GB718&oq=to+contain&aqs=chrome..69i57.2903j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#q=to+contain+definition speaks of having or holding while https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=to+include&rlz=1C5CHFA_enGB718GB718&oq=to+include&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i60j69i61.2735j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#q=to+include+definition speaks of comprising or making part of a whole.

How are those the same, please?

  • i am sorry but Google isn't available in my country. but the subtle difference is what i am trying to figure out.
    – user239460
    Jun 7 '17 at 4:42
  • Really? Well, that first link basically said to contain is to have or hold (someone or something) within, or to control or restrain (oneself or a feeling). The other said include is to comprise or contain as part of a whole, or to make part of a whole or set… The differences are in no way relevant in the context of whether there was a link in a question… Jun 7 '17 at 19:45

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