In my job as copyeditor I notice that writers tend to overuse different when they should write various instead.
Different, as you know, means that something is not the same as something else. One thing is different from another thing, or two or more things are different, not alike.
Various implies that there is a variety among things; there are several different variants of something. Various is used before a plural noun about things that are of the same type but not all of exactly the same kind.
Usually, the preposition from comes after different: Her latest novel is very different from anything she has written before. However, some writers prefer than after different. I would use than only with the comparative form: These two are more different than those.Different than is common in US English. Sometimes I also see different to, which seems to be more common in British English, but you should avoid using differentto in writing.
I recommend that you write different when you want to emphasise that there really is a difference. And write from instead of than or to! Write various to indicate that there are several types that are different from each other, that there is a variety of things.
It may be difficult to understand the difference between experience and experiences.
Experience has two meanings. The first is something that has happened to you. You might say, I had a strange experience on my way to work this morning.
This experience can take the plural form, experiences:
He talked about his bad experiences with cheap hotels. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you about my experiences in the Himalayas.
The other meaning of experience is what you have learnt from studies or work or from familiarity with something. This is what you would write in your CV. Experience in this case is an uncountable noun; it cannot be used in the plural.
You must have at least five years of teaching experience. In my experience, this is a very good car.
Experience can also be a verb:
She experienced a sense of being valued for her brains and not only for her beauty.
Two years later he remarried. The votes had to be recounted. After the installation you have to restart your computer. All components are reusable.
Since re here means again, you must avoid writing He remarried again or The votes had to be recounted again (that would mean that he married at least three times or that the votes were counted three times). You can read more about unnecessary words here.
Re can also mean a change in the position or state of something:
relocate = locate in a new place rearrange = arrange in a different way
Some words with re have two versions, one with a hyphen and one without, and there is a difference in meaning.
get back health, ability,
change or improve something
subdue, not allow feelings,
etc., to be expressed
make a new copy of a recording
dislike or be annoyed at
someone or something
as in 'He re-sent the parcel'
arrange for something to be
kept for your future use
Use a hyphen if re means again and if omitting the hyphen would cause confusion with another word.
You can read more about using a hyphen here and about the difference between a hyphen and a dash here.
Both brief and short are adjectives that are the opposite of long when we talk about time.
The lecturer gave a brief summary of previous research. There was a brief moment of silence.
We had a short discussion. It happened a short time ago.
Short can also be the opposite of tall as well as the opposite of long when we talk about distance.
The boy was short and chubby. The bus stop is just a short distance from our house.
Brief is sometimes used as a verb meaning inform and as a noun meaning shortinformation, summary.
The press secretary briefed us about the decision. Our boss gave us a first brief of the negotiations.
Brief can also mean instructions about duties, responsibilities, etc.
Part of the architect’s brief was to design a building that would comply with local environmental regulations.
A briefing is a meeting in which detailed information or instructions are given.
Debriefing has two meanings: A detailed report given by an agent or a soldier after a mission has been carried out or a meeting held after a traumatic event (such as a natural disaster, a hijacking, etc.) to let victims deal with their trauma.
Briefs is another word for underwear, while shorts are trousers (usually for sport or relaxing) that reach only to the thighs or the knees. Shorts can also refer to underwear for men.
Before this text gets too long, I had better remind myself to be brief or to keep it short.
My next blog post takes a look at briefly and shortly, two words with very different meanings.
To indicate that you are not at all concerned about something you can say I couldn’t care less.
I couldn’t care less if my old car broke down. I’ve been planning to buy a new one for some time now.
If his girlfriend left him, he couldn’t care less. He has found out that she is not his type.
So the phrase I couldn’t care less means that you don’t care at all.
Therefore it seems strange to hearI could care less, which has grown in use, particularly in American English.
He was so tired that he could care less if the roof fell down on him.
To me this indicates that he actually has some concern left, so the statement is actually illogical; it implies that he still cares, that he still has worries. As a copyeditor I recommend that you stick to the original version with couldn’t.
As we have seen in another blog post, the -ing form, the present continuous, indicates that something is going on just for the moment.
I’m writing an email on the balcony (momentarily). He writes articles for monthly magazines (a regular activity).
He is living in France (temporarily). I live in Sweden (Sweden is my home country).
To say that someone is only temporarily in a place, the verb stay is often used.
He is staying at a small hotel in Lyon.
Non-native speakers of English whose mother tongue only has the present simple sometimes tend to overuse the present continuous when they speak English, since they believe that to be the common form. Even if they intend to convey a permanent state, they may say or write sentences such as the following (for the use of the asterisk read at the end of this text):
*I’m travelling to work by bus every morning all year round. (Since this is what happens regularly you should say I travel to work by bus every morning.)
*He is designing cars. (This is his permanent job, hence the correct sentence would be He designs cars.)
*They are playing golf every weekend. (This is a habit, so it should be They play golf every weekend.)
*That book is costing nine dollars. (That is a fixed price, so the correct version is That book costs nine dollars.)
*They are making washing machines. (Unless this is a temporary production and they normally make refrigerators, we must write They make washing machines.)
You should think twice before using the -ing form in English!
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