Can You Distinguish What’s Distinct?

So many words in the English language sound similar, so we often think they mean the same thing. Such is the case with the words distinct and distinctive. Seems as if they should be interchangeable, right?

Distinct means “well defined, discernibly separate:

  • She has distinct speech—you can’t miss her.

Distinctive means “serving to distinguish, set off by appearance:

  • His distinctive pink bowtie made him stand out in the crowd.

Distinct speech is well pronounced, but distinctive speech has characteristics that may help you guess where a person is from.

Sometimes writers confuse distinctive with distinguished, such as in “he spoke to a distinctive group of authors.” Distinguished means “notable” or “famous.”

  • The man with his distinctive accent and distinct manner of speaking appeared quite distinguished.

There’s a distinct possibility you might forget this lesson, but I hope it was distinctive enough for you to take it to heart.

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