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    #1

    How do I know the difference between synonyms?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bright One View Post

    I really want to know the differences between many words like these which are called synonyms while in fact they are not. They say no word is a synonym for another; there must be little or big difference

    Prison-jail, ill-sick, try-attempt, place-location, manager-boss-administer-chef-head-moderator, change-alter

    In semantics, they say those words and many other examples are called synonyms but they are not; you may use a word instead of another but definitely not the opposite!

    Can you help me to find a source that tells such differences, a dictionary or another kind of resource?
    Waiting for your help on that

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: How do I know the difference between synonyms?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bright One View Post
    I really want to know the differences between many words like these which are called synonyms while in fact they are not. They say no word is a synonym for another; there must be little or big difference

    Prison-jail, ill-sick, try-attempt, place-location, manager-boss-administer-chef-head-moderator, change-alter

    In semantics, they say those words and many other examples are called synonyms but they are not; you may use a word instead of another but definitely not the opposite!

    Can you help me to find a source that tells such differences, a dictionary or another kind of resource?

    Waiting for your help on that
    "Synonym" doesn't mean 'having precisely the same meaning and interchangeable in all contexts; that doesn't mean the word is useless and can never be applied meaningfully.

    English is so rich in synonyms precisely because it has so many 'donor' languages. Off the top of my head, and taking just one of your clusters -

    manager-boss-administerrator-chef-head-moderator

    they are French (?) - Afrikaans - Latin - French - Old English (??) - Latin

    (In some cases they come from different dialects of one language - jail/gaol, ward/guard..). Users adopted them both initially to make a distinction that was useful in a particular context.

    I don't know of any especially commendable book. Context is essential. Read real texts (novels, newspapers...)

    b

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    #3

    Re: How do I know the difference between synonyms?

    If you want to research specific words, use these sites: http://corpus.byu.edu/- you can search and compare the words on context and see the differences.

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    #4

    Re: How do I know the difference between synonyms?

    By the way, here in America, a jail is a facility where people are incarcerated while awaiting a trial, or serving a sentence of [usually] less than one year. A prison is a facility where people are [usually] serving a sentence of more than one year.

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    #5

    Re: How do I know the difference between synonyms?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    "Synonym" doesn't mean 'having precisely the same meaning and interchangeable in all contexts; that doesn't mean the word is useless and can never be applied meaningfully.

    English is so rich in synonyms precisely because it has so many 'donor' languages. Off the top of my head, and taking just one of your clusters -

    manager-boss-administerrator-chef-head-moderator

    they are French (?) - Afrikaans - Latin - French - Old English (??) - Latin

    (In some cases they come from different dialects of one language - jail/gaol, ward/guard..). Users adopted them both initially to make a distinction that was useful in a particular context.

    I don't know of any especially commendable book. Context is essential. Read real texts (novels, newspapers...)

    b

    You are right in the big amount of synonyms in English. You say that may be because of the donor languages, but that is just a reason and doesn't help in using the result which is the varieties of words properly in the right context

    Reading real texts is a good advice, but this can help on the long run, i mean this is a long term plan that I acquire the proper use in the right context, but in my case, I want something can save time

    Thank you

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    #6

    Re: How do I know the difference between synonyms?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    If you want to research specific words, use these sites: http://corpus.byu.edu/- you can search and compare the words on context and see the differences.
    A very good huge resource indeed, but still I'm not planning to look up every word comes to my mind to see if there is a difference from the context. Furthermore, I am an intermediate learner which makes the task at some point difficult for me distinguishing between words in contexts that are not really meant to - distinguishing between synonyms

    But I'm really grateful to you leading me to such a wonderful reference

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