Different

Have you taken the Cambridge First Certificate or Advanced exam? If so, you will have read or heard these sentences:

  • “You will hear people talking in eight different situations”.
  • “You will hear five different people speaking…”

What is the issue? There is one useless and confusing word: different. Why?

If you have eight situations then by definition (por definición) they are different. If the situations are not different, then you would say that “you will hear five people talking in a situation”.

So “different” in the above examples is confusing and unnecessary. Similarly (igualmente), five people are going to be different people (by definition), so why use the word “different”?

It is surprising that Cambridge is so mistaken. There are some unthinking minds (mentes irreflexivos) in Cambridge. You, however, can avoid the mistake.

Other common errors to avoid are to say something is “different to something” or “different than something”. “To” and “than” here are incorrect.

The correct form is “something is different from something”. So be different and use “different” correctly.

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