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Settembre 2016
The Speak Up blog answers any questions you may haveeither about the English language or our articles. Write to us at: http://blog.speakuponline.it. The most interesting questions will be published on this page. A word of warning, though: our blog is not a translation or homework service!

Defuse or diffuse?
In your June issue, presuming you meant “reduce,”  you wrote on page 56 “diffuse” instead of “defuse.” (“In countries like Australia, people... may try to diffuse tension...”) This error recurred in the exercise book, on p. 26.

According to the language blog Oxford Dictionaries, this is not a mistake: “The verbs diffuse and defuse sound similar but have different meanings. The literal meaning of defuse is to ‘remove the fuse from (an explosive device) in order to prevent it from exploding,’ while the non-literal meaning is ‘reduce the danger or tension in,’ such as: The negotiator successfully defused the situation.
On the other hand diffuse means, broadly, ‘disperse,’ as in: The jackpot was diffused between many winners. However, diffuse is also widely used, and can make sense when used to describe the lessening of danger (much in the same way defuse is used in this sense), for example:
Only peaceful dialogue between the two countries could diffuse tension.

You, too!
I notice that the English use both “too” and “as well” at the end of sentences as a way of saying “anche.” What’s the difference?

In the words of the Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary, “They are almost exactly synonymous.”

I’ve never really understood syllable division in English. Please could you explain it?
Maria Rosaria

Here are some basic rules: Words that are pronounced as if they only have one syllable (trapped, meant, gone) cannot be divided.
Divide the compound word between words: rain-bow.
Divide a word between double consonants: dip-ping, run-ning.
Divide a word between the base word and its ending: writ-ing, beard-ed.
After that it gets a bit more complicated, but this link should help:

Torna all'inizio
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