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  1. Mehrgan's Avatar
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    #1

    Question "Distinguish" or "Differentiate"?

    Hi,
    Could anyone please tell me the difference between the two? Could they be used instead of each other?

    Once I read by "Differentiating" we mention what the exact differences between two ideas are, while by "Distinguishing" we focus on the features of ONE of those two ideas. I'm not sure about this at all, and I hope somebody shed light on this. Ta!

  2. lauralie2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: "Distinguish" or "Differentiate"?

    Hi Mehrgan

    Distinguish means unique, whereas differentiate means difference.

    Ex: I can't tell the difference between the twins. They look exactly alike. Neither has a distinguishing mark that tells them apart.

    • distinguish refers to a unique characteristic, usually perceived with the senses.
      • differentiate
        • list the characteristics that make them different
      • distinguish
        • list the characteristics that make them unique

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: "Distinguish" or "Differentiate"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mehrgan View Post
    Hi,
    Could anyone please tell me the difference between the two? Could they be used instead of each other?

    Once I read by "Differentiating" we mention what the exact differences between two ideas are, while by "Distinguishing" we focus on the features of ONE of those two ideas. I'm not sure about this at all, and I hope somebody shed light on this. Ta!
    In their most common meaning, they mean the same - being able to tell the difference between one thing and another, as well being able to explain how you do this.
    You can also use "discriminate".
    "How can you differentiate/distinguish/discriminate between these two stars using a small telescope? - A is slightly redder than B."
    "Can you differentiate/distinguish/discriminate between these two wines just by smelling them?
    "Discriminate" is used less commonly this way now that it's come to be used pejoratively (meaning 'treat badly based on having discriminated'), but it's still used in science with the original meaning.

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