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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.

Don’t forget that you can subscribe to receive my daily blogs by email so that you don’t miss any. Just click ‘sign me up’ on the home page. Alternatively you can follow my blogs on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/madeirasandra or my new Tips and Luxuries Facebook page. Requests for future blogs (punctuation/grammar/writing tips) are always welcome.

Until tomorrow…

Sandra

My writing challenge: http://wp.me/p1x6Ui-4

This blog: https://mywritingnotebook.wordpress.com

My other blog: http://sandramadeira.wordpress.com

My website: www.tipsandluxuries.com (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.
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About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Please let me know what you think of my blog - constructive comments welcome. Have a great day Sandra Freelance Writer www.sandramadeira.com

Discussion

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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