I was talking to a friend (who has passed some of his years in Canada), and I said to him

It's difficult to meet to discuss about a problem because we have different rhythms.

and he agreed by saying

...it is true that we have different paces.

Now, since my English level is still not good enough, or at least it isn't as good as I would like, especially in terms of the richness and rightness of my vocabulary and expressions I should use, I'm not sure if I can say what I said and, if I can, are both sentences equivalent? Is one more common than the other? Which one sounds more familiar to native English speakers? I know that this might be different from country to country, but you can simply mention your country, if you wish.

To be honest, I used the term rhythm because it's also used in my mother language (of course translated). I didn't even know about pace.

  • We do "talk about something" but we "discuss something" not "discuss about something".
    – TimR
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 14:51
  • Yes, both would be idiomatic.
    – TimR
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 15:37

5 Answers 5


Interesting question.

Rhythm can refer to the stopping and starting or speeding up and slowing down or
ebb and flow of something.

For example, if you are awake during the day (which is usual) and your friend is awake during the night (sometimes referred to as "being a night owl") you both have different personal rhythms (not to be confused with circadian rhythm.

Pace is usually used to describe constant speed while travelling, either literally or metaphorically

The runners ran at a 4-minute-mile pace
The pace of life inside big cities is hectic

You two may be missing each other because

your rhythm is not at the same pace as your friend, or
your friend's pace does not have the same rhythm as yours

Obviously, pace and rhythm wouldn't match since they mean different things, but by using them you both may be suggesting that you view your daily lives in different ways.

  • Since OP is apparently from Switzerland and his friend is/was in Canada, their daily schedule would have varied by somewhere between 4.5 and 9 hours (depending on where in Canada the friend lived), in addition to any daily personal rhythm differences. Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 19:02

The meanings are actually different, so which one was correct would depend on how it was intended.

'Pace' refers to the speed or tempo of something, while 'rhythm' refers to the beat or pattern, which is independent of tempo.

So if it was difficult to meet with him because you always worked days and he worked nights, rhythm would be more appropriate. If it was difficult because he was always busy, and you were not, then it would be pace.

  • FWIW, I think many native speakers would be perfectly happy with rhythm being used to refer to tempo; phrases like "fast rhythm", "fast-paced rhythm", etc., are decently well-attested.
    – ruakh
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 16:37

I would say both are correct but I personally wouldn't say either. I would probably say we have different schedules. I'm in the USA


We have different paces is not an idiomatically established usage. Common expressions in this general area are...

1: We're out of step
(We're trying to work together, but our efforts are just not fully co-ordinated / synchronised)

2: You march to the beat of a different drum
(We're not compatible co-workers, because your aims are completely different to mine)

...where #1 is more likely in contexts where we can make minor adjustments so as to "synchronize" our actions (and quite probably will, since there's usually the implication that this is what we want to happen; perhaps we just weren't paying attention to the precise timing).

On the other hand, #2 is more likely in contexts where the different approaches are effectively irreconcilable (you have your way of doing things, I have mine, and there's nothing we can do to change that). This usage is much more "generic" (it's not just about differences in timing).


Rhythm does not make sense in this context. It could mean too many things.

Do you mean to say you speak at different speeds? Then cadence is the word.

Do you mean to say you sleep at different times? Then schedule is the word.

Pace means you are literally moving at different speeds, but could be interpreted as a metaphorical difference of speed. It is also ambiguous.

When in doubt just say what you mean using more words.

  • 1
    Referring to daily schedules as "rhythms" is well-attested. Referring to cadences of speech as "rhythms" is similarly acceptable. Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 20:23

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