Which one of the following sentences sounds more natural:

  • There are still places in the world with racial discrimination. ---> (It seems to be correct to me)
  • There are still places in the world with racial segregation. ---> (It seems to be correct to me)
  • There is racial discrimination in some places. ---> (I guess it sounds wrong because discrimination is an uncountable noun)
  • There is racial segregation in some places. ---> (I guess it sounds wrong because segregation is an uncountable noun)

Bringing up this question I am going to discover the slight nuance between the nouns "segregation" and "discrimination" which have very close meanings and lots of overlaps.

Added: On the internet, you can easily find the terms racial discrimination or just discrimination or racial segregation or only segregation! How can a dictionary clarify which one is more preferred in a specific sentence/circumstance? I humbly disagree that such questions can be answered using a dictionary. You have instinct, but we are learning. This is why we have no common feelings about these nuances.

Meanwhile, based on the rules, I cannot ask several closely related questions in the same thread. So please give me right to bank on some members intelligence to recognize what I as a non-native, inexperienced learner am looking for.

Also, I need to know the best sentence structure to write. I Do not need to get any stylistic preference that would be indicative of someone's personal taste. I need to know if my sentence seems to be correct or incorrect.

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, Alan Carmack, Glorfindel, Peter, user3169 Oct 2 '16 at 17:56

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    Two different terms clearly defined in dictionaries. Could you explain what nuance difference you are going to discover beyond the context? If there is a context and you know the definitions, what exactly is your problem? – Lamplighter Oct 2 '16 at 14:43
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    Why do you think it depends on whether the noun is countable or not? – Peter Oct 2 '16 at 15:49
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    I want to clarify something for you: There is water in this glass. Please go get a different glass for your milk. Water is not countable, but we can still use "there is". – J. Doe Oct 3 '16 at 1:40
  • Still, I think when someone is asking questions for more than 3 years, it is a very concrete reason for moderators who think someone like me is infringing the rules! I've read the rules at least 10 times and can point them out one by one here. Please try to perceive people like me who are trying to learn and have no idea how to express them in a way they don't sound unnatural. – A-friend Oct 3 '16 at 8:57
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    +1 for the research, but any dictionary will explain the difference in meaning, the two terms are not homophones nor synonyms, they cannot be confused. In addition, your question was not put on hold by any moderator, none of the five users have a black diamond, it was put on hold by ordinary users, like yourself. – Mari-Lou A Oct 3 '16 at 11:40

If it is the difference between the terms "segregation" and "discrimination" that is not perfectly clear to you, then here it goes.

Segregation is to keep things or people apart. Most people generally think of this in terms of past policies such as the so-called separate but equal - separate drinking fountains for blacks and whites, making the former sit in the back of the bus or in a separate section of the movie theater.

Discrimination restricts access, rights and allows preferences for no other reason that race, religion, sexual orientation, age, etc. For example, in most countries, gays are discriminated against by not being allowed to marry. In the past, black children were discriminated against (and somewhere, perhaps they still are) by automatically placing them in non-college prep classes in school. Refusing to hire someone merely based on race, religion, age, etc., regardless of qualifications would be another common example.

As for your sentences, once you know the definitions, it's up to you to decide which one is to be used, separately or together, in accordance with the context.


Depends on what you want to say exactly.

  • To segregate means to separate one group from other groups. If this is done by race, then you have racial segregation.

  • To discriminate means to make a judgement call based on a given criteria. Racial discrimination is obviously doing that with regard to race.

The relation is as follows: Racial discrimination, or making judgement calls based on race, leads to racial segregation, or separating groups by race.

Example of discrimination: Only members of group X get resource A, group Y cannot have it. If resource A is something like "ability to join a workplace", this discrimination has a segregatory effect.

Example of segregation: Members of group X have to live in area A, members of group Y have to live in area B. If area B prevents access to a resource, it's effectively discrimination too.

All horrible things, of course.

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