What is the Difference Between Different vs Difference?

What is the Difference Between Different vs Difference?

It might sound like a tongue twister, but the two words compared in the sentence are actually quite confusing to many. What is the difference between different and difference? How are they classified linguistically? What makes them distinct? Why is there a confusion? How do we know which one to use?

The English language can be ambiguous; it has numerous rules and various exemptions. Words are classified accordingly, and it takes years of study before someone can use them properly and perfectly. Even then, mistakes may be made every once and a while. The title of this article has already provided a clue, but it will also delve deeper into the words to provide more clarity for those who are curious about their distinction.

Definition of Different

The definition of different can be better explained by the root word ‘differ’, a verb which means not having the same traits or characteristics. Organic different is formed from the word differ; differ is derived from the Latin word dis (which means apart or to be far from) and ferre which means to bear or carry. Combining dis and ferre makes the word differre, which means “to set apart” in Latin. At the end of the 14th century, the term became “différent” in old French.

This expression is classified as an adjective, and it can be stated that it is not the same as the others. It may also mean that a certain thing or a person is different from others in terms of quality, type, and appearance. Unofficially, it means that one thinks that something or someone is beyond usual or has bad taste. As an adjective, it is used to describe or modify another word or phrase.

Therefore, if it is to be used in a sentence, it must function as a descriptor. To illustrate, in the sentence, “The phone she’s using is different from the one I bought her,” different is used to describe or modify the phone. It is a very useful word, and it is more commonly used than its synonyms. Some of which are disparate, distinctive, mismatched, separate, or divergent.

Definition of Difference

Like different, the definition of difference can also be explained by the root word differ. Derived from the same Latin words, the word evolved from differe to differentia, which means diversity. It then developed into the term différence in Old French and became the word we known now. The main difference between the words being compared lies in the part of the discourse to which they belong.

“Difference” functions as a noun, which means it must be used to identify something, a person, a place, an entity, an event, or a quality. The word difference is used to identify a point or a means by which the things being compared are not similar, to express disagreement, and to identify the result of subtracted numbers. Like “different,” it is also used more often than its synonyms: dissimilarity, distinction, variation, and divergence.

In the statement, “The difference between you and me is that I’m not easily upset,” “difference” is used to emphasize how the subjects “you” and “I” are dissimilar. Another example of the use of this term is, “Their political difference(s) make it difficult for them to argue objectively.” In this example, the difference functions as an expression of the disparity between the topics under discussion.

Main Differences Between Different vs Difference

In order to provide a better comparison, we present below a table with the main differences between them.  

Basis of ComparisonDifferentDifference
Part of speechAdjectiveNoun
Root wordDifferDiffer
PurposeTo describe uniquenessTo identify areas of inconsistency

Conclusion of the Main Difference Between Different vs Difference

There are many differences between the words different and difference. When deciding whether to use different vs difference, it is important to know the purpose of the word. Do you need it to describe another subject or object? Do you need it to emphasize how the objects or topics are dissimilar? Do you need a noun or an adjective?

Using the improper word will make the sentence linguistically incorrect. Admittedly, the English language is difficult, but with research and practice, one can definitely improve your English communication skills.