Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #31, What's the Difference?

What's the difference? Today's Thursday Thirteen was found while googling the difference between your and you're for my youngest who thought I was lying to him. How come we were so smart without the electronic tools that our kids have? But that's another blog topic for another day. All of these differences and even more were found at I chose the ones that have puzzled me in the past and those that were difficult for my students. Stay awhile, as I lead you down the road to understanding flagrant misuse of phrases or words.

What's the difference between:

1. Road and Street: A road usually runs between two more distant points, such as between two towns. A street is described as being a paved road or highway - in a city, town, or village, especially one lined with houses, shops, or other buildings.

2. Awhile and a while: As a noun phrase after a preposition such as after, for, in, within, one should use two words, a while. In that case, it means 'a short or moderate time'. If one is using the term adverbially, it should be spelled as one word, awhile, which means 'for a short time'. Examples of each are: I will stay for a while at the party. He napped for a while. / She stayed awhile at the party. I napped awhile on the couch. This topic is a fine point of grammar and for many uses only writing it will distinguish which syntactic structure one should use.

3. Blatant and Flagrant: Blatant refers to anything that is offensive, notorious, or shocking, especially in an obvious or conspicuous way. Something that is blatant is often obtrusive in a crass manner - and blatant can be used of persons and things. Flagrant refers to anything that is evil or wrong, a willful or glaring violation of a promise or flouting of law or morality. A flagrant offense or error is so bad that it cannot escape notice. Flagrant is definitely the stronger term.

4. Epidemic and outbreak: An epidemic is a disease that affects many people at the same time, such as the flu. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's official definition of epidemic is: 'The occurrence of more cases of disease than expected in a given area or among a specific group of people over a particular period of time'. The term outbreak describes the sudden rise in the incidence of a disease, especially a harmful one. An outbreak is characterized by a disease's bypassing of measures to control it.

5. Bug and Insect: Bug is loosely used for any very small creature with legs. However, a true bug is defined as belonging to the order Hemiptera. These creatures characteristically have tough forewings and lack teeth, such as beetles. True bugs have a stylet (a mouth shaped like a straw) that they use to suck juices from plants. Insects belong to the class Insecta and they are characterized by three-part bodies, usually two pairs of wings, and three pairs of legs, (e.g., bees and mosquitoes).

6. Cement and Concrete: Cement is any chemical binding agent that makes things stick to it or each other. Examples of cement are "glue," "mortar," and "paste." Concrete is a construction material consisting of cement, water, and some type of granular crushed material like cinders, gravel, sand, slag, or stone. When water is added to the cement and granular material, it activates the cement, which is the element responsible for binding the mix to form a solid object.

7. Literally and Figuratively: Literally means 'with truth to the letter; exactly' or according to the strictest sense of the word or words. Figuratively means 'by or as a figure of speech; metaphorically', or 'in a descriptive, analogous, but metaphorical sense of the word or words'. ( Literally most of my students were unable to understand figurative speech, I had to explain what this bumper sticker hanging in my room meant: Don't Make Me Release The Flying Monkees)

8. Vegetable and Fruit: A fruit is actually the sweet, ripened ovary or ovaries of a seed-bearing plant. A vegetable, in contrast, is an herbaceous plant cultivated for an edible part (seeds, roots, stems, leaves, bulbs, tubers, or nonsweet fruits). So, to be really nitpicky, a fruit could be a vegetable, but a vegetable could not be a fruit. When you go to the grocery store, fruits are those items regarded as those not used in salads and not generally intended for cooking.

9. Quality and a Characteristic: A quality is an 'inherent or distinguishing characteristic, a property, or a personal trait'. Quality denotes the character, disposition, or nature of something. A characteristic is 'a feature that helps distinguish a person or thing, a distinguishing mark or trait'. Quality is slightly more inclusive than characteristic. Characteristic's meaning is more about a distinction.

10. Data and Information: The term data refers to factual information, especially that used for analysis and based on reasoning or calculation. Data itself has no meaning, but becomes information when it is interpreted. Information is a collection of facts or data that is communicated. However, in many contexts they are considered and are used as synonyms. Data, by the way, is the plural of datum. Information comes from Latin informationem 'concept, idea' or 'outline'.

11. Supper and Dinner: Supper is a light evening meal - served in early evening if dinner is at midday or served late in the evening after an early-evening dinner. Either way, it is regarded as the last meal of the day. Dinner is the main meal of the day, served either in the evening or at midday. However, in certain regions of the US (New England in particular), the words are used interchangeably for the main evening meal. Okay, this is so true in our house, one day the kids came up with lupper, a combination of lunch and supper.

12. I.e. and e.g. : E.g. indicates an example; i.e. specifies and explains. Compare: She loves to read non-fiction, e.g., reference books and how-to books. / He had one obvious flaw, i.e. his laziness.

13. Passive and active sentences: Active vs. passive is dictated by the verbs used. For example, "Picasso painted a picture" uses an active verb. "The picture was painted by Picasso" uses a passive verb. You should generally avoid writing in the passive voice as it is a more roundabout way of writing and you should try to be direct.
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  1. Wonderful list especially for us wannabe writers!! I bet I'm messed some of these up dozens of times! Thanks for checking on these and sharing!
    Great TT!

  2. Man, Jenny, how'd you come up with this list? It's really cool. Love the flying monkeys, by the way!!

    Happy TT!!!

  3. This is a wonderfully helpful list! I'm an English teacher, and I see errors in all these very often. No one understands what active/passive voice is, no matter how often you explain.

    Supper can be supper or dinner, and lunch can be lunch or dinner here in the Southwest!

  4. Thanks for a very educational TT. I'm going to bookmark

  5. Best list I've seen so far this week. I was just wondering about concrete vs. cement.

    Great TT!

  6. Went in my deaf ear and out the one I partially hear out of. lol

    I second guess myself all the time while writing, but I just have to let it go. Breath in, Breath out, Move On is my new theme song.

    Maybe a photo blog would be the best for me!

  7. Posts like this make my heart sing! I am so geeky ... I love learning and most especially learning about language.

    (Does a geeky happy dance!)

    Have a good week. (Thanks for stopping by Snarkypants!)

  8. such a cool TT!!! Nine is up, week was rough!

    Visit me!

  9. Great idea for a TT and I appreciated learning all of them ... except for #8. I had a McDonald's strawberry yogurt parfait today, which means I ingested a sweet, ripened plant ovary. YUM! From here on out, when I crave sweets, I'm gonna play it safe and go for M&Ms.

  10. Oh what an entertaining list. And a great idea! Kudos!

  11. 'I.e. and e.g.' is a great one - loved your examples. Also laughed at having to explain the flying monkees to your class!

  12. I'll never look at a piece of fruit in quite the same way again ;-)

    Thanks for visiting!

  13. I'm learning so much from these TT's.

  14. Very useful list; I'm SO deliciousing this one.

  15. Great list. So many people get so many of those wrong.

  16. So many of those are easily confusing. In our house and in our area of the globe we call the big meal supper - but in other areas of the country it's dinner and lunch is the noon meal.

    Good TT!

  17. Holy cow, I know that I've messed these very things up more than once! As someone who pretends to know my way around a sentence or two, I am seriously sheepish right now!

  18. I never really thought about the difference between road and street before. Now I know :-).

    Great list. Happy TT.

  19. well, I declare you the Thursday Thirteen Winner!
    FABULOUS list.
    I just was explaining road-street-blvd-etc to my dauther.
    Here in Texas we have a new one to me.
    FM -- farm to market

    Great List - Great List!

  20. Really interesting one!
    Happy TT

  21. Now, this is a great TT! I had never thought about #12. I use i.e. occasionally, but never have used e.g. Thanks for the info.

  22. Oh..didn't really realise the difference btw Cement and Concrete till now...hehee...

  23. Great idea for a list! Happy TT1

  24. What I nice little review! The one that really drives me nuts - and I've noticed it quite frequently in the last few weeks - is when people confuse the use of than and then.

  25. This is a handy reminder list. I'm glad you spelled it out.

  26. Felt like I was back in school. . .

    The vegetable and fruit one is confusing to me tho. . YOU say: My comments in (and) within your quote. . .
    8. Vegetable and Fruit:

    A fruit is actually the sweet, ripened ovary or ovaries of a seed-bearing plant. (I guess that's why a tomato is a fruit also?)

    A vegetable, in contrast, is an herbaceous plant cultivated for an edible part (seeds, roots, stems, leaves, bulbs, tubers, or nonsweet fruits).
    (So, then that's why a tomato is also a vegetable.)

    So, to be really nitpicky, a fruit could be a vegetable, but a vegetable could not be a fruit.
    (Then why do we think of tomatoes as a veggie and not a fruit? Why is it with other veggies in the grocery store?)

    When you go to the grocery store, fruits are those items regarded as those not used in salads and not generally intended for cooking.
    .(But then why do they cook tomatoes for canning or sauces? I consider a tomato a veggie. I eat them sliced plain or with cucumbers with a tad of Miracle Whip and salt on it or a slice on a hamburger. I can't think of one reson it would be called a fruit except by the definition you used!)

  27. As the daughter of a civil engineer who specialized in concrete mixes I grew up knowing the difference between concrete and cement--it was a big deal in our house :)

  28. Thank you for explaining a while and awhile to me. Finally I got it!

  29. As a recovering English major, I was thrilled to read your TT.

    Thank you for cutting down on noise pollution. ;-)


  30. This is a great list! Why is it that when you read the reason behind something you just "know" it becomes confusing? LOL!


Any thoughts or musings of your own to add?