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I would like to know which sentence among below is correct and how one is different than one another.

What is the difference between these two words?

What are the differences between these two words?

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  • What do you think the difference(s) could be? Think about the difference between singular and plural.
    – JMB
    Jan 28, 2017 at 20:46
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    In context, how many differences are you expecting?
    – user3169
    Jan 28, 2017 at 20:58
  • The difference can be one, two or more. And frankly, I don't believe it is not the same thing in your native language. One difference, two differences. Tell me your language doesn't distinguish that? I would close this question.
    – Lambie
    Jan 28, 2020 at 22:33

1 Answer 1

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Both can be correct, depending on the words. You may expect more than one difference. For example:

What is the difference between a "smuggler" and a "pirate"?

(I assume that these words are very similar, and there is only a small difference.)

What are the differences between a "smuggler" and a "pirate"?

(I assume that these are different enough that there are multiple differences.)

It doesn't necessarily matter how many things are actually different, only how many you expect.

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  • Thank you very much for the answer! But normally as a foreign student learning English, when I ask a native English speaking teacher a question about how expect and anticipate are different, which would be more proper? Jan 29, 2017 at 20:23
  • Good question! I expect that "expect and "anticipate" are very similar, so I would ask "What is the difference between expect and anticipate?"
    – Andrew
    Jan 29, 2017 at 21:27

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