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    #1

    modify, adjust, gear, alter

    Dear teachers,
    I feel confused by the following four words or phrases. The following is from Cambride dictionary online:
    1. modify
    to change something such as a plan, opinion, law or way of behaviour slightly, usually to improve it or make it more acceptable.
    2. gear sth to/towards sb/sthphrasal verb
    to design or organize something so that it is suitable for a particular purpose, situation or group of people

    3. adjust
    to change something slightly, especially to make it more correct, effective, or suitable
    4. alter
    to change something, usually slightly, or to cause the characteristics of something to change
    5. change
    to make or become different, or to exchange one thing for another thing, especially of a similar type
    To me the only difference between modify and others is it is collocated with plan, opinion, law or way of behaviour.
    When meaning 'suitable', 'adjust' and 'to gear something to sb/sth.' are the same.
    When meaning 'to cause the characteristics of something to change', alter' and 'change' are the same.
    Is that right?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang

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    #2

    Re: modify, adjust, gear, alter

    All this angst about what word to use!

    Yes, they are all similar.

    But unless we see the actual application of the word in a sentence, we cannot tell you the minute difference one word of the other makes.

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    #3

    Re: modify, adjust, gear, alter

    Dear susiedqq,

    Thank you very much for your reply. Please read the following sentences:

    1. Only in the present century has man acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world.
    My question is: can I use change instead of alter?
    2. To adjust to these chemicals would require not merely the years of a man's life but the life of generations.
    My question is: can I use "to be geared to"?
    3. Control must be geared to realities.
    My question is: can I use 'adjust'?
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.
    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by susiedqq View Post
    All this angst about what word to use!

    Yes, they are all similar.

    But unless we see the actual application of the word in a sentence, we cannot tell you the minute difference one word of the other makes.

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