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Sentence in question:
“The coursework for this assignment is differentiated and dependent on grade level and ELA designation.”
on or upon? Does it matter? Does it ever matter?
Both on and upon can be used. In no situation would there ever be a difference in the meaning between "dependent on" and "dependent upon."
On a side note, I think "differentiated" in the original sentence should be immediately followed by the word "by," since the coursework is both differentiated by the grade level and ELA designation and dependent on (or upon, whichever you prefer) the grade level and ELA designation.
February 17, 2005, 7:46pm
I agree with Shawn, only to add that I think "upon" is a bit more formal sounding.
I also 100% agree with his 2nd comment about "by"...otherwise what your sentence says is "differentiated (up)on and dependent (up)on" which doesn't really make sense
February 18, 2005, 8:32am
Thank you! Great points.
February 18, 2005, 9:43am
CQ is absolutely right in that "upon" is slightly more formal--but could could I get a spell check on my name? :P
February 18, 2005, 9:58pm
Sorry, S-E-A-N. :) My husband's name is spelled the other way...I make that mistake often. Mea maxima culpa
February 19, 2005, 9:49am
hmmm, Shawn comes up fine in my spell-checker :)
March 30, 2005, 10:21pm
I am bothered by people who use the term "differentiate" as a synonym for "distinguish" or "discriminate." Such usage is admittedly correct, but the term "differentiate" has specific, technical meanings in mathematical analysis, and is occasionally confusing.
a pet peeve
April 19, 2005, 9:50pm
Pet, the use of "differentiated" is correct in this sentence. The word can be used, and often is used, outside of a mathematical context--for instance in biology, to refer to 'cell differentiation."
But technical meanings aside, both the transitive and intransitive meanings of the word are well attested and correct, even in situations in which you may personally prefer a synonym such as "discriminate" or "distinguish."
April 20, 2005, 8:44am
The use of 'differentiate' is integral to the tone of the response. Were it replaced by 'distinguish' or 'discriminate', the text would be left with a fraction of the clarity, and the words may add undesired layers of ambiguity or inference which would subtend and distort the true meaning. The discriminant use of the word in its proper function serves only to provide a prime example of neutral yet precise language. Indeed, (and not to be hyperbolic) using a subset of language that avoids terms from other domains would cause an exponential growth in length of texts, as an expanding range of complex meanings would be forced on fewer words.
Of course, we should probably avoid dragging the conversation off onto this particular tangent.
April 20, 2005, 12:15pm
Persephone... subtle, subtle. LOL
April 20, 2005, 5:16pm
April 21, 2005, 7:41am
For the record, using "differentiate" has a technical significance in the realm of Education, where I drew this quote while editing. However, I am not to defend it's original existence, as many words used with understood definitions in Education commonly contradict their true definitions. This just drives those of us English-minded educators batty!
The common misuse of "standards" in education is a major faux pas for many of my colleagues, as we wince each time media and government use the term.
April 29, 2005, 1:34pm
I'm appalled that "English-minded educators" confuse the use of "it's" and "its".
October 11, 2006, 5:59pm
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