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Which one of these sentences is correct when I want to mean I registered for a class? Or can either of them be used interchangeably?

I joined a dance class.

I signed up for a dance class.

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This really depends on whether there is an acceptance process or not. To sign up means to formally state your wish to join the class. To join means to actually start attending lessons. If acceptance is automatic, then you can probably use these terms interchangeably.

However, acceptance may not be automatic. Maybe it's an advanced class that requires an audition. Maybe the class is oversubscribed and the organizer will be picking people randomly from the sign-up list. Maybe the class hasn't actually been scheduled yet and there's a chance that it will be scheduled at time when you are not available.

In all those cases, there's going to be a time gap between signing up and joining; and maybe you'll even find out that you can't join the class you signed up for.

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  • This is a much more useful answer than the other one. Signing up and joining can imply the same thing in effect, but they often don't. You clearly state the essential difference between the two. If I sign up for something that doesn't mean I've actually joined it yet. (And if the thing I've joined doesn't require signing up, then it doesn't mean the same thing in the opposite direction either.) In point of fact, I've always clearly distinguished between the two and never used them interchangeably. Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 22:38
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In your case, if attending the class requires registration or similar enrollment process, then use I signed up for a dance class.

I joined a dance class sounds more abstract. It doesn't tell anything about the class, whether it requires registration or enrollment process.

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    Thank you. "I joined a dance class" can also be used if there is an enrollment process, right? Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 19:22
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    Yeah, you could use it to just say you joined the class as it leaves off the details about the registration and enrollment process.
    – ferakp
    Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 19:25
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  • to sign up means to put your name on a list to be used by whomever is managing the course. Most courses require some kind of signing up.

One can sign up by adding one's name to a list on a bulletin board, or on a clipboard or electronically or by (in an institution) telling the admin person you want to take the class.

You sign up for a class that you want to take. You sign up to take it.

  • You might put your name on a list (sign up) for something, and then find out the class was full or you acted too late. Therefore, you will not be able to join the class (become part of the group of people in the class).

Once you have signed up. and are taking the class, you can use the verb join to describe being in the class.

Patsy: How long have you been taking that ballet class?
Annie: I joined the class in January.
Patsy: Was it easy to get into that advanced class?
Annie: No, I signed up and did not have to audition for it.

To join means to become part of something larger than yourself where there are members or participants in a larger entity.

In that sense, you can join many things: clubs, organizations, institutions, classes, courses, groups, churches, etc.

Teachers often say to distracted students, something like this:

"Mr. Smith, would you care to join us?" (pay attention to what is being said)

If you run into someone in a restaurant who is with others, that person might say to you:

"Would you like to join us?" = become part of our "group" at a table

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