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What's the Difference Between...?

Updated on July 10, 2021
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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


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