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When should we need to use “what kind(s) of” or “what type of”

e.g

What kind of food did you have there?
What type of food did you have there?

Which one is better?

Thanks!

1 Answer 1

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There are subtle differences between type and kind, but they can often be used interchangeably, especially when talking about food, as in your example:

What type of food did you have there?

What kind of food did you have there?

Either is acceptable and there is no difference in meaning. In general, when either word can be used, type is slightly more formal than kind, so you might hear kind more often in spoken English, but you'll probably see type more often in written English.

In cases where you might choose one over the other, you typically use type to reference specific things (characteristics, traits, qualities) that distinguish group members from one another. For example:

He has a type "A" personality.

Everyone in the group has some type of personality. Some have type "A", others have type "B" and a different group might have type "C." It's the type that distinguishes one from the other.

Kind is typically used to associate an individual with a group. For example:

What kind of ninja do you want to be for Halloween?

The differences are extremely subtle, and I think you can almost always use type in place of kind and get away with it. But there are specific cases where you cannot use kind in place of type, so when in doubt, use type.

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  • I might add that "type" to me connotes the existence of somewhat distinct classes, as opposed to "kind" which describes a more general nature without affixing a label. If you get terrible service at a restaurant, for example, you might ask the manager "What kind of a restaurant is this, anyway?", which is making a comment about the general character of the restaurant, rather than the style of food they serve (which might be implied by "what type of a restaurant is this?"). Aug 4, 2023 at 14:21

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