Different

“Different” (distinto, diferente) you will know. However, many unthinking minds (muchas mentes irreflexivas) abound (abundan) and make stupid mistakes with this word.

Perhaps you have done a Cambridge First or Advanced exam and you have heard the following in the Listening test: “You will hear eight people talking in eight different situations”. Where is the error? Eight situations can only be different situations, and therefore “different” is redundant (redundante). The correct form would be “eight people talking in eight situations”.

You may also have heard someone say “I spoke to eight different people”.

This is confusing. Why? Is “different” redundant?  Or does the speaker mean that the people were very different in character, profession, or appearance? One was a gangster, another a charity worker, and another a circus clown. Confused? You should be.

So, be different from the Cambridge examiners, and use “different” – and all adjectives – with care so that you do not confuse mortals. The golden rule in English: accuracy (la exactitud), brevity (la brevedad), clarity (la claridad) = ABC.