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  1. Conatus's Avatar
    Student or Learner
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      • Native Language:
      • Portuguese
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      • Brazil
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    • Join Date: Oct 2013
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    bag vs. suitcase

    Hello teachers and colleagues:

    According to the following definitions from Cambridge Dictionay Online, a "bag" is necessarily made of soft material; if the material is hard (rectangular), then it would be a "suitcase":

    a) definitiion for "bag", in this case: "a softcontainer made out of paper or thinplastic, or a strongercontainer made of leather, plastic, or other material, usually with a handle, in which you carrypersonal things or clothes or other things that you need for travelling

    b) definitiion for "suitcase":"a large, rectangular case with a handle for carryingclothes and possessions while travelling"

    Once a hotel clerk called my large suitacase on wheels a bag and since then I've been seen frequently people calling a suitcase a bag.

    I searched for both words in the forum and I found this answer by Casiopea to a question about the differences between this two words, among others:

    "suitcase <singular>
    => a case for a traveler's belongings

    handbag <singular>
    => a bag that holds your money, credit cards, keys, and so on

    => a synonym for handbag, suitcase; also, sport's bag, school bag, lunch bag, grocery bag, shopping bag, and so on"

    My questions:

    1- Does people only call a small or medium size carry-on suitcase (synonym for handbag on the above answer) a bag? Or a large suitcase as well?

    2 - Is "bag" as a synonym for suitcase according to the English semantics? or is this use of the word with this meaning considered slang ore something like that?

    3 - Is "bag" commonly used a synonym to "suitcase" in both British and American English?
    Last edited by Conatus; 20-Oct-2013 at 11:37.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
    English Teacher
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      • Native Language:
      • British English
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      • UK
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      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
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    Re: bag vs. suitcase

    I'm sure that once upon a time we made the distinction between a bag and a suitcase. However, the prevalence of air travel and of suitcases which are made of soft material have somewhat blurred the lines.

    When you check in at an airport, you are now asked "How many bags are you checking in?" Airlines just seem to use "bag" or "luggage". So many people don't carry traditional suitcases any more that I think it actually makes sense to have one word for the whole lot.
    I usually travel with a soft-sided suitcase with an extendable handle and two wheels. I variously call it my wheelie case, my wheelie bag, my case or my bag. If I take it on the plane with me, it's my "cabin bag/baggage" and if I check it in, it's my "hold luggage".

    Sometimes there is no straight answer to questions about English.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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