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Word comparisons

Note 129 – The difference between distinct and distinctive

It’s a common error to use distinct instead of distinctive and vice versa.  According to The Pocket Writer’s Handbook by Martin Manser & Stephen Curtis, distinct means “‘clear’, ‘clearly noticeable’ or ‘separate and different’”; however, distinctive means that something has its own “special and unmistakable character”.

Consider the following sentences:

  • There is a distinct noise coming from next door (meaning that it was a clearly noticeable and separate noise).
  • I love the distinctive flavour of a Chilean Merlot (meaning it has it’s own special taste which sets it apart from other red wines).

Now for a quick test – choose between distinct and distinctive in the following two sentences.

  • There is a distinct/distinctive difference between the words effect and affect.
  • The cocktail had a very distinct/distinctive taste.

You will find the answers at the end of the blog.

My thoughts: It’s easy to see why people tend to pick the wrong word; I hope this blog has shown that these two words have distinct (separate and different) meanings. 

That’s it for today. If you have any questions about this blog, please leave me a comment.

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Until tomorrow…


My writing challenge:

This blog:

My other blog:

My website: (includes the introduction to my upcoming book ‘A Gift for Stressed and Busy Parents’)

Twitter: @madeirasandra and @tipsandluxuries

Reference list:

Pocket Writer’s Handbook by Martin Manser & Stephen Curtis (Penguin Reference Library)

Answers to test…

  • There is a distinct difference between the words effect and affect.
  • The cocktail had a very distinctive taste.

About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


One thought on “Note 129 – The difference between distinct and distinctive

  1. Thank you!

    Posted by Sergey Lee | July 24, 2012, 1:50 am

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