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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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.