I wrote

To create a wrapper, the user first identifies text features such as textual delimiters, keywords, constants or text patterns, which we call anchors, to distinguish and delimit data regions and data records on a representative page.

by "distinguish" I mean "to make distinct", does it have such meaning?

In fact I don't know the meaning of identify and distinguish or similar words.

in dictionary identify is to recognize someone or something. Then can I say "I identify an object on the page for the reader"? or it is an action that every one should do by himself? Then what would be the word I should use in such sentence?

Similarly, distinguish is to recognize the difference between two or more things. So, for example, you may distinguish something on a page. What if I highlight them or use some landmarks to make them distinguishable? what is the word of my action? Do I again distinguish them?

===== Examples of my usage =====

I can't distinguish the mountain you climbed in this picture

I can't identify any damage in this car

But are these ok too?

This tree distinguishes the mountain we climbed in this picture

This spot identifies a damage to the body of the car

  • I think your understanding is basically correct, but it is hard to explain based on your example. Could you write some example sentences using identify and distinguish, in non-technical English. That might help your understanding, but at least it will be easier to explain further.
    – user3169
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 4:15
  • If I've understood your chapter on anchors, text-features show where a data-region begins, but they do not fully delimit the region. They do not show where it ends. So these features do not fully distinguish the region.
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 10:17
  • @TRomano you also used distinguish the region, We should distinguish something by X Y Z, or X Y Z distinguish something (for us), or both?
    – Ahmad
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 12:12
  • @user3169 I brought some examples.
    – Ahmad
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 12:31
  • I think you could say that the data-regions on the page are distinguished from other content on the page by text-features which identify where these regions begin. How do you determine where a data-region ends?
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 15:50

1 Answer 1


If you check the definitions of distinguish, the meaning varies depending on the statement.

In the case of:

1) to separate or mark off by differences; perceive or show the difference in; differentiate

When you write:

I can't distinguish the mountain you climbed in this picture.

I expect to read "distinguish between (something) and (something else)".

I can't distinguish between the mountain you climbed in this picture and the one I visited last year.

In the case of:

3) to perceive clearly; recognize plainly by any of the senses

When you write:

This tree distinguishes the mountain we climbed in this picture.

if the tree was iconic so that when you saw it you knew where it was, then this usage is OK.

I guess this one applies to your example, without additional context.

Your understanding of identify is correct.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .