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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Proper usage of 'peculiar' (peculiar vs. strange)

    Greetings,

    As an ESL student, I'm having some difficulties choosing the proper word for the following sentence:

    “The building's atmosphere was strange for me from the very first moment.”

    Or:

    “The building's atmosphere was peculiar for me from the very first moment.”

    According to Cambridge Online Dictionary, the word 'peculiar' means that unusual and strange, sometimes in an unpleasant way.

    However, I've done some research on the Net and now I'm a bit confused. Opinions are mixed about the meaning of 'peculiar' and a lot of people claim that it means 'strange', but in a good, unique way rather than in an unpleasant way.

    Therefore, I would be grateful if someone would clarify this for me. Can I use 'peculiar' if I want to express that the building's atmosphere was strange, unusual, but in a bad, unpleasant, or even sinister way? Or should I use the simplier 'strange' in order to not confuse the reader?

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by dondave1337; 04-Dec-2016 at 19:39. Reason: I didn't add the word 'strange' to the title while it's discussed in my message.

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Proper usage of 'peculiar' (peculiar vs. strange)

    The word "peculiar" doesn't work for me in that sentence. Try:

    The building's atmosphere was strange to me from the very first moment.

    Certainly, "peculiar" and "strange" are similar in meaning, but they are not interchangeable. The difference is subtle.

  3. VIP Member
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    #3

    Re: Proper usage of 'peculiar' (peculiar vs. strange)

    I can't articulate why one works where the other doesn't, but you can write I noticed the building's peculiar atmosphere from the moment I entered it.
    I am not a teacher.

  4. Eckaslike's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Proper usage of 'peculiar' (peculiar vs. strange)

    Quote Originally Posted by dondave1337 View Post

    “The building's atmosphere was strange for me from the very first moment.”

    Or:

    “The building's atmosphere was peculiar for me from the very first moment.”
    I think it's the combination of using "was" and "for me" in this construction which doesn't flow naturally. Tarheel and GoesStation have made some useful points.

    I might write "The building's atmosphere felt/seemed peculiar to me from the very first moment I entered it". I would also use the same contruction using "strange", because we use our senses to determine if something is odd or unusual.

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