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What's the Difference Between...?

Updated on July 10, 2021
theraggededge profile image

Writing is my thing. English is such a fascinating and frustrating language.

As I Wander (That's Wander, Not Wonder) Around the Internet...

I notice many people getting all confused about stuff. I don't want anyone to feel confused, lost, and alone, so I have written this concise guide to the differences between... oh lots of things.

Here's the low down on colds and 'flu, weather and climate, spaying and neutering, and best of all (I think) affect and effect.

Impress your friends and even share this with them on Facebook!

If you have a "What's the difference between...?" question, then post it in the comments and we'll work it out together.

Is it a cold or have you got the flu? (CC BY 2.0)
Is it a cold or have you got the flu? (CC BY 2.0) | Source

What's the Difference Between a Cold and the 'Flu?

Strangely most people do not know the difference between cold symptoms and those of influenza. The most basic difference is that colds are often preceded by a scratchy or sore throat, whereas flu doesn't present in the same way. The onset of flu feels awful. You feel shivery; hot one minute, freezing cold the next. You also feel overwhelmingly tired. It is almost impossible to function normally. A cold takes around three days to develop from first exposure to the virus to experiencing the unmistakeable full symptoms. 'Flu, on the other hand, can suddenly take hold with very little warning. Sometimes, it is fleeting and can be completely gone by the next day, other times, you will feel its effects for weeks. The average recovery for both is about a week.

What's the Difference Between 'Affect' and 'Effect'?

Many people are confused by this one but, generally, the rule is simple: affect is a verb and effect is a noun. Therefore “Cats affect my asthma,” and “Cats have an effect on my asthma.”

Affect is to 'have influence over', therefore, I affect, you affect, he affects, etcetera. “Apples affect appetites.”

If you can put 'an' or 'the' in front, then the word you need is effect. Equate effect to the word, result. Tie the two together to help you to remember, 'an effective result'. Yes, I know I turned it into an adjective (and that's another clue), but never mind.

However, there are exceptions (of course there are, this is English, after all). Effect can also be used as a verb in the context of causation, as in, “The new boss will effect change.” The original meaning of the sentence would be lost if you used affect; the new boss will implement change versus the new boss will influence change.

Very rarely, affect can be used as a noun, “He displayed an unhappy affect.” This is when you can't describe what someone is feeling (because you can't get into their head), but you can describe how their feelings are shown to the world. As I said, this is rarely used. Slightly more common is the noun, affectation; “Along the way she had acquired the peculiar affectation of pursing her lips after every sentence.”

What's the Difference Between Greek Yogurt and Regular Yogurt?

Greek or Greek-style yogurt is strained thrice to remove the liquid whey, thus is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt. It has more protein and fewer carbohydrates, making it an excellent choice for low-carbers. However, regular yogurt is higher in calcium. Tip: add to smoothies to make them even more delicious and healthful.

See you later, alligator, or in a while, crocodile? Can you tell the difference? (CC BY 2.0)
See you later, alligator, or in a while, crocodile? Can you tell the difference? (CC BY 2.0) | Source

What's the Difference Between a Crocodile and an Alligator?

There are 23 species in the crocodylia family and only one is an alligator. Therefore it can be said that “all alligators are crocodiles but not all crocodiles are alligators.” There are a few general rules which will enable you to tell the difference if you are being approached by a member of crocodylia. Though at that point, you probably won't care. If you are in a freshwater area, it is likely to be an alligator. Crocodiles are salt-water tolerant, whereas alligators aren't.

As he gets closer, have a look at the snout. Long and pointy = crocodile; wider and rounder = alligator. Is he smiling? If you can see his upper teeth when his mouth is closed, then you are being stalked by Mr Alligator. If both upper and lower teeth are gleaming, then meet Mr Crocodile.

However... and you knew there was going to be one, didn't you? However, these differences aren't set in stone, there is one other species of crocodylia that has a wide jaw—Indian mugger. That's its species name, not a term of endearment, by the way. Often there is disagreement between scientists as to which sub-species a member of crocodylia belongs.

This is Dante, the Goldendoodle. He's been neutered.
This is Dante, the Goldendoodle. He's been neutered. | Source

What's the Difference Between Spay and Neuter?

Females are spayed and males are neutered. The term de-sexed is a misnomer, as an animal does not become sexless when neutered or spayed, any more than humans do when they are sterilized or undergo vasectomy. Your boy-dog is still a male and your girly-dog is still a female. And, yes, of course I know what a girly-dog is called – I just don't want to be caught out by the profanity filter.

This is Chloe, she hasn't been spayed.
This is Chloe, she hasn't been spayed. | Source

What's the Difference Between Love and Lust?

Firstly, the terms aren't mutually exclusive; it's quite possible and highly likely that there is a mix of the two in most successful relationships. Nevertheless, there can be an either/or situation. Lust doesn't want to hear your opinions or even get to know you better. Love respects you at 18 and at 80. Love gives and takes; lust only takes. Love is there for the long-term; lust is slaked, and leaves.

Poet, me.

What's the Difference Between Fruit and Vegetables?

Generally speaking, fruits are produced by the flowering part of a plant while veggies are other parts, such as leaves, stems and roots. Ergo, your cucumber is a fruit, but your celery is a vegetable. Got it? Okay, there are some that are difficult. Seeds, nuts and grains are counted as fruits. Broccoli is a vegetable even though it consists of flower buds (it's not produced from the flower). Whatever. The most important thing to remember is to eat both kinds of produce every day.

Wales, not in England.
Wales, not in England. | Source

What's the Difference Between England and the UK?

O-ho, this is a biggie. It is for us Brits anyway. Do you know how annoying it is for people who live in Wales (like me) to read that Wales is in England? Believe me, it isn't. The UK is made up of lots of pieces of land. Some are joined together, others are not. England is just one of those pieces. It borders Wales in the west, and Scotland in the North. There is also Northern Ireland (not Eire – independent, of course... but you already knew that, right?) and the Channel Isles, which are right up close and personal to France. There are also lots of teeny tiny islands that belong to their respective country or principality. One exception right in the middle of the Irish Sea, between England and Ireland, and north of Wales is the Isle of Man, which is part of Britain but not of the United Kingdom. It has it's own government, currency and everything. Nice place too.

Question: Why do Americans always say “London, England,” or “Paris, France”? Surely the context of the conversation denotes that you are talking about important capital cities? When we talk about Dallas or Seattle or New York, we don't follow it with “United States”.

What's the Difference Between a Hotel and a Motel?

You know this. You do. A hotel is a building containing, among other things, rooms and suites of rooms. A motel is a range of rooms and each has its own access from outside. Motels are usually single story. Hotels can be many, many stories tall. You can usually park close to your motel room, whereas you might find it difficult to do so in a hotel and I'd advise you not to try.

What's the Difference Between Weather and Climate?

Climate is the prevailing weather conditions of an area, whether it be a small area just outside your kitchen door, i.e. micro-climate, your locality, your state, your country or your planet. A climate could be described as temperate (relatively moderate), arid (dry) semi-arid (somewhat dry), tropical (hot and wet) or sub-tropical (warm and wet-ish). Climate takes account of all the seasons.

Weather is what's happening right now outside your window. At the moment here in Wales, (UK or Britain but not England), the weather is cold, bright and sunny. The dog and kids are happy as they've had a dose of fresh air, and all is well with the world. Have a happy day.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Bev G

Confused? Let's work it out together!

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    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      3 years ago from Wales, UK

      Brilliant. Thank you for explaining :)

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      3 years ago from Long Island, NY

      There are a lot of differences Bev, but the easiest to explain is that a boat is small enough that it can be carried on a ship. Not the other way around. Captains if ships get upset when someone refers to their vessel as a boat. :)

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      3 years ago from Wales, UK

      Thank you, Glen. I can't tell the difference between ships and boats - what is it? Is it something to do with engines?

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      3 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I always love learning new things. And even though I knew most of these differences, you caught me on a few that I didn’t know.

      I always had trouble remembering the difference between a fruit and a vegetable. Now, thanks to your article, I should be able to remember that fruits are the flowering part of a plant and vegetables are the other parts.

      I’ve got an additional one for you Bev, and I always correct people on this one. When people confuse ship and boat, I have fun telling them never to call a ship a boat when talking to the captain of the ship.

      Thanks for a very educational article.

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      3 years ago from Wales, UK

      I'm finding I make these silly basic mistakes, the older I get :)

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      3 years ago from Ohio

      I think the picture is a crocodile. I enjoyed this. Truth be told, I still confuse effect and affect at time, lol.

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      7 years ago from Wales, UK

      Mmm... we watched a bit of the League. My partner likes it although I haven't quite worked out what those little scrums are for yet :) It's fast and furious, and I like that. My eldest kid lives in Melbourne, so we have a soft spot for Aussie sport - unless Wales are involved, of course!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      7 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Yes theraggededge, Australia got beaten in the Rugby Union by England, but at the moment we are crap at that and test cricket. Rugby League which I follow is a different story and we are currently playing in the Rugby League World Cup being held in various locations throughout Britain. Australia beat England last week and Fiji today. Almost every venue has been a sell out. I have a feeling Wales have had one game so far and lost, but I know Scotland won. Sorry to get carried away with the sports angle. I tend to do that.

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      7 years ago from Wales, UK

      Thank you, Jodah. It's not that we get upset - we have many more things to get upset about than whether someone can't differentiate between England and the UK. Usually, we merely indulge in a little sarcastic eye-rolling. And then we cheer when England gets beaten at Rugby Union, although, sad to say, it was Australia who were beaten yesterday :( Who was it who said, "We don't care who wins as long as it isn't England"? We do support the English soccer team though, cos Wales and the rest are pretty crap.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      7 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Hello theraggededge.

      I found this a fun and informative hub. I especially take the point about England vs United Kingdom, and totally understand how people from Wales, Scotland and Ireland etc would be upset to be referred to as part of England. In regard to towns with the same names as those in other countries, well I guess the largest or most famous should stand on their own, and smaller lesser known referred to along with their country. Here in Australia we have so many towns and places named after ones in Europe and Mainly the UK. each towns especially, such as Scarborough, Redcliffe, Margate etc, but many others as well. Oh we also have a Texas.

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      8 years ago from Wales, UK

      Hi DreamerMeg, I take your point, that's why I said it's generally indicated by context. Like in movies, where a shot of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben is overlaid with the text, "London, England". I would have thought the 'England' was unnecessary, given that anyone with a TV would recognise that iconic setting :D Oddly, if we, in the UK, are talking about Boston in Lincolnshire, we have to say so, as US Boston is more well known here (except in Lincolnshire, of course!). In Australia, there is a famous town called "Ballerat"; it's named after a teeny-tiny hamlet just down the road from here that doesn't even register on the maps. If I heard someone talking about it, I would assume they meant the Aussie version :D

    • DreamerMeg profile image


      8 years ago from Northern Ireland

      There is a London, a Paris and a Belfast in the USA, so Americans NEED to qualify where the London, Paris or Belfast they are talking about are located. There's also Birmingham Alabama, so there must be a Birmingham, England for them too. :) I presume those places were named by homesick immigrants.

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      8 years ago from Wales, UK

      I was going to pick one and make a hub... but couldn't decide. Thanks, Carol xx

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      What a clever idea for a hub. This was a fun read and I learned a few new things. Voting up and pinning.


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