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What's the Difference between Different and Differently?

The English language is comprised of eight parts of speech that form the building blocks for constructing sentences and paragraphs. Adjectives and adverbs are two parts of speech that function as descriptors. While adjectives describe nouns, adverbs describe verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. Adverbs that describe a verb tend to end in “ly.” Sometimes, adding these two words to an adjective can change it into an adverb.


Since adjectives and adverbs serve distinct functions in the English language, an adjective should not be used to describe a verb, adjective or adverb. Conversely, an adverb should not be used to describe a noun. The sentence below includes the error of using the wrong descriptor.


Sentence: According to the study results, a national firm often manufactures products that look DIFFERENT than those made locally.


Edited Sentence: According to the study results, a national firm often manufactures products that look DIFFERENTLY than those made locally.


“Different” is an adjective to describe a person, place or thing that is unlike something else. Simply stated, different should describe a noun that is dissimilar to another noun (for example, “Please use a different statistic to support your point,” where different describes the noun “statistic”).


However, “different” does not describe an adjective in the original sentence above; it describes the verb “look.” Therefore, the adjective “different” is replaced with the adverb “differently” in the edited sentence.


When using descriptors in sentences, scholars must use the proper part of speech.


Until next week, Happy Writing!!!

Dr. V Writing Coach-Editor-Speaker Author of I'm Not a Writer...I am Just in Graduate School (order your copy at https://www.amazon.com/Not-Writer-Just-Graduate-School/dp/1533392919)

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