20 English Word Pairs that Confuse Absolutely Everyone

11Biotech and pharmaceutical company

The difference between a biotechnology company and a pharmaceutical company is that while both produce medicines, a biotech company’s medicines have a biological basis, whereas a pharmaceutical company's medicines have a chemical basis.

12Shia and Sunni Muslims

The difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims is who they believe is the rightful successor to Prophet Muhammad. Sunnis believe that the 4 Caliphs that came to power after his death were chosen by him. Shias believe that he chose as his successor his cousin and son-in-law Ali.

13Black and white rhino

The difference between the black and white rhino has nothing to do with color. The black rhino has a narrower mouth while the white, or “wide” rhino has a wider mouth which better suits for grass eating. White Rhino came from Wide Rhino as an error in translation from South African Dutch “Wijd Rhino.”

14Seals and sea lions

The difference between seals and sea lions is sea lions have ears.

15Fog, mist and haze

The difference between fog, mist, and haze is how far can we see through them. Fog obscures less than 1 km, mist obscures more than 1 km, while haze is merely the suspension of small particles in the air that give it an opalescent appearance.

16Oath, affirmation and promise

There is a difference between an oath, an affirmation, and a promise. An oath is a commitment made to a God, and an affirmation is one not made to any God. A promise is a commitment made by a person under 17 years old.

17Rye and bourbon

The differences between Rye and Bourbon is that Bourbon has to legally be at least 51% corn.

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18Tortoise and turtles

The major difference between tortoises and turtles is that tortoises dwell on land, while turtles live in the water some or nearly all of the time. 

19Cups and mugs

There are actual differences between cups (lighter, thinner, 6oz, always has a saucer and handle) and mugs (thicker, more than 8oz, handle optional).

20Hurricane and typhoon

The only difference between a hurricane and a typhoon is the location where the storm occurs. In the North Atlantic, central North Pacific, and the eastern North Pacific, the term hurricane is used. The same type of disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a typhoon.


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