Archive for the difference between words

the difference between words: always and forever

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I recently had a request by someone to explain the difference between “always” and “forever” so that’s what I’d like to do today.

The word “forever” is used when we want to say that something will last for all time. In other words, it will never end. For example:

I will love you forever.

There will forever be distrust between Bill and me.

People have been killing each other in wars forever.

As you can see from my examples, we can use this for both past and future situations.

We can also use “always” to explain these types of situations, but the word “forever” is more formal and dramatic while “always” is more for everyday conversation. For example:

I will always love you.

There will always be distrust between Bill and me.

People have always killed each other in wars.

However, we can also use “always” in other situations. It can be used when we want to say that there is a certain condition which is true every time something happens. For example:

When I get home from work, my husband is always watching TV.

I always get annoyed when I’m on a crowded train.

We can also use it to describe the state of a person or thing in general when it never changes. For example:

Sarah is always happy. I really envy her.

The traffic light on Main Street is always broken. I don’t understand why they don’t fix it.

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the difference between words: aggressive and assertive

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Today one of my students got mixed up between the words “aggressive” and “assertive”, so that’s what I’d like to write about this week.

If we say someone is “aggressive”, it sounds like the person is extremely forceful and could possibly be dangerous or violent. However, if we say someone is “assertive”, it means that they will say what they think strongly or will try to get what they want, but it doesn’t sound like they are violent or dangerous. Here are some examples:

I don’t like Jerry when he’s drunk because he gets really aggressive. Last time, he started a fight with another guy.

My brother is a really aggressive driver, so I hate being in the car when he’s driving.

If you want to get a raise from your boss, you should be more assertive. If I were you, I’d just ask my boss for the raise directly.

Pam is a very successful salesperson because she’s smart, charming and assertive.

In my third example sentence, I talked about “a raise”. This word means a salary increase.

So, the word “aggressive” is very negative, but the word “assertive” is positive. Please be careful not to call someone “aggressive” if you want to say something positive about them. In those cases, you should always use the word “assertive”.

the difference between words: overwork and work overtime

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Today I’d like to go over another common misunderstanding that many of my students have: the difference between “overwork” and “overtime”. When someone works longer than their regular scheduled hours, we say that they “work overtime”. However, when someone is working too hard or too much, we saying they are “overworking”. Therefore, the word “overtime” is a noun, and the word “overwork” is a verb. Here are some examples of how to use them in sentences.

I have to work a lot of overtime right now because my company is in the middle of a huge project.

My boss asked me to work overtime tonight, so I won’t be able to have dinner with you. I’m sorry.

Ben looks so tired these days. He’s really overworking right now. He needs to take a break.

My husband has been overworking himself trying to get his business off the ground.

The term “work overtime” is neutral in meaning, but the word “overwork” is always considered negative because it means to work too much. Whenever we use “too”, the situation is always considered bad.

Please note that in my last example I used “overworking himself”. It’s very common to use words  like “myself”, “yourself”, “himself”, “ourselves”, etc. after the verb “overwork”. In these cases, it means that it’s the person’s choice to work extremely hard, but that it’s too much.

the difference between words: slow and late

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A while ago, I wrote about the difference between “fast” and “early” so, in today’s blog entry, I’d like to go over the difference between “slow” and “late”. I wrote in my earlier entry that “fast” is about the speed of something or someone and “early” is about the time something or someone arrives. In the same way, “slow” is also about speed, and “late” is about the time something or someone arrives. For example:

I’m sorry for being so slow to finish this report. I’ll get it to you as soon as I can.

The traffic was so slow on the highway yesterday! Under normal circumstances, it would have taken us two hours to get home, but yesterday it took six hours!

I’m going to hand in my report late. I’m really sorry about that.

The teacher was late for my class. That’s really strange because she’s usually right on time.

So, my first and third examples are both talking about the writing of a report. I use “slow” with the first example because I’m focusing on how quickly the person is working. I use “late” in the third example because I’m focusing on when the report itself will be given to the boss; in other words, when it will arrive on the boss’ desk.

So, we use “slow” when something or someone takes a long time to do something, and we use “late” when something or someone arrives after the scheduled time.

the difference between words: fast and early

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Today I’d like to write about the difference between “fast” and “early”. I don’t know about other languages, but in Japanese they use the same word for both ideas.

The word “fast” is used to mean that someone does something quickly. For example:

I can run very fast. I won many races when I did track and field in high school.

Paul works very fast. He completed his last project in less than two weeks.

Wow! You got here really fast! There must have been very little traffic.

The word “early” is used to mean that someone arrives ahead of the scheduled time. For example:

I came early for the party because I thought I could help you get ready for it.

I like to get to work early. It gives me a chance to do some things without having a lot of people around.

Spring is early this year. Normally it doesn’t begin for three more weeks.

If you have trouble understanding the difference between these two words, think about it like this: “fast” is about the speed of something or someone and “early” is about when something or someone arrives.

the difference between words: moved, touched and impressed

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Recently one of my students asked me what the difference was between “moved”, “touched” and “impressed”. It seems there is a lot of confusion about these words especially in Japan, so that’s what I’m going to write about today.

We use the word “moved” to talk about something that affects us emotionally. Things that can move people are books, movies, songs, etc. For example:

I’m really moved by the new song by Mark Taylor. The lyrics are so beautiful.

I was really moved by the scene in that movie in which the boy finds his lost dog and hugs him.

We use the word “touched” to talk about a situation in which a person does something considerate for us without being asked to do it. For example:

I was really touched when Jerry brought me a cup of tea because I said I had a sore throat. That was really thoughtful of him.

Julia made me a sweater for my birthday and it took her over six months to make it! I was so touched when she gave it to me!

Finally, we use the word “impressed” to talk about something that was done skillfully. For example:

I was very impressed with the work you do on the ABC project. Keep up the good work!

Did you know that  Vic plays the piano? I heard him play last night, and I was really impressed!

The examples that I’ve given you are all adjectives with -ed endings. That means that we always use these words with a person as the subject. Therefore we CANNOT say, “It was very moved.”, “It is touched.”, or “It was so impressed.” If we want to talk about the situation, we use “moving”, “touching” and “impressive”. For example:

The ending of that book was very moving.

When the singer won her award, the host gave her a hug. It was a very touching gesture.

The special effects in that movie are extremely impressive.

Please note that the words “moving” and “touching” can be used in that same way to describe something that affects us emotionally. However, when we use the word “touched”, it’s usually for a more personal situation in which someone has done something thoughtful for us.

the difference between words: quiet and silent

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The other day I had to correct one of my students over the meaning of the words “quiet” and “silent”, so that’s what I’d like to write about today.

The word “quiet” means for there to be very little noise or for someone to not talk very much, but the word “silent” means for there to be no sound at all or for someone to not speak at all. For example:

It’s very quiet and peaceful at my summer house near the lake. I like to spend my weekends there in July and August.

A: Do you hear much noise from the traffic in your apartment?

B: No, I’m not on a main road, so it’s actually pretty quiet.

I’m trying to study. Could you please be quiet?

My cousin Beth is a very quiet woman, but she talks a little more when she gets to know someone.

I went out to the lake last night, and it was completely silent. There wasn’t even the sound of a bird.

When the singer collapsed on stage, everyone in the audience was shocked and became silent.

The word “quiet” is more commonly used than “silent” because it’s rare that we hear no sound at all. Also, when we use the word “silent” about a person, it must be used to talk about a specific situation, but we use “quiet” to describe a person’s personality in general.

the difference between words: dove and pigeon

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I don’t know about other languages, but in Korean and Japanese there is only one word for both a dove and a pigeon. Therefore, Korean and Japanese people often get confused about them. I would like to explain the difference in my blog today.

A dove is the beautiful white bird that is the symbol of peace. A pigeon, on the other hand, is the bluish grey bird which is usually found in parks and eats anything it can find. Most people like doves, but hate pigeons. Let me give you some example sentences using these two words:

I want to put a dove on my logo because it’s the symbol of peace, and I think people will like that.

I saw a dove flying outside my window this morning. It was so beautiful!

There are so many pigeons outside my office building. I hate having to walk through them.

I saw a bunch of pigeons eating some garbage the other day. They’re so disgusting!

From what I understand, these two birds are from the same family and very closely related. I think the only major difference between them is their coloring.

I’m sorry if I’ve offended any pigeon lovers out there, but I think the majority of people don’t like them.

the difference between words: past tense and was/were + ing

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Last week, I wrote a blog entry about the difference between “will” and “will be” + ing. Today, I’d like to do the same thing about the simple past tense and the past progressive tense.

We use the simple past tense to talk about past events in general, but we use the past progressive tense (-ing form) when we want to focus on a specific time or event in the past. For example:

A: What did you do yesterday?

B: I worked yesterday.

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A: What were you doing at 4:00 yesterday afternoon?

B: I was working at that time.

So, in this case, the two speakers are focusing on the specific time of 4:00 and contrasting that with what happened during the rest of the day.

However, we can also say something like:

A: What were you doing yesterday?

B: I was working yesterday.

In this case, the speakers are focusing on yesterday as a unit of time and contrasting that with what happened during the whole week or month.

We often use the two tenses together when we want to talk about an interruption in the past or when something happened in the middle of another action. For example:

I was watching TV when you called last night.

I was writing an email to you when I received your email.

By the time you got to the office yesterday, I was giving my presentation in the meeting

On the day you finished your project, I was already working on another project.

We use the past progressive to talk about two actions that were taking place at the same time in the past. For example:

While I was cooking dinner, my wife was cleaning the living room.

Nancy was fixing the computer as her boss was entering the office.

My mother was crying as I was driving away in my car.

In these cases, the word “as” means the same thing as “while”.

the difference between words: will and will be + ing

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Today I’d like to write about the difference between two grammar forms that are about the future: “will” and “will be” + ing. Generally, we use “will” to talk about future events in general, but we use “will be” + ing when we want to focus on a specific time or event in the future. For example:

A: What will you do tomorrow?

B: I’ll work tomorrow.

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A: What will you be doing at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow?

B: I’ll be working at that time.

So, in this case, the two speakers are focusing on the specific time of 2:00 and contrasting that with what will happen during the whole day.

However, we can also say something like:

A: What will you be doing tomorrow?

B: I’ll be working all day tomorrow.

In this case, the speakers are focusing on tomorrow as a unit of time and contrasting that with what will happen during the whole week or month.

Here are some other ways in which we use “will” and “will be” + ing when talking about the future:

I’ll probably be asleep by the time you get home, so please don’t make too much noise.

I’ll probably be sleeping by the time you get home, so please don’t make too much noise.

I will have a meeting with my boss tomorrow about my business trip.

When you get up tomorrow, I’ll be talking with my boss about my business trip.

The plane will land soon, so please fasten your seatbelts.

We will be landing in about fifteen minutes, so please fasten your seatbelts.

We can also use “will be” + ing to talk about future events which are already fixed or decided. For example:

A: What will you be doing at the conference?

B: I’ll be giving a presentation about our new product.

I’ll be working at our new branch tomorrow, so you can reach me there.

My husband got a promotion at work. From now on, he’ll be heading the marketing department at his company.

So, in these cases, the event has already been decided on in the past, and now it is a firm plan.

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