“Different” Type of Question

At least once a day I fret over different. My knee-jerk reaction is often that it’s unnecessary if it seems apparent that the writer is referring to a list of varied items. But this is a situation where overwhelming usage usually defeats my instincts. And I’m never satisfied with my decision. Some examples:

After two years, cast a wide net when seeking financing—apply to at least five different lenders.
There are many different reasons businesses might be audited.
The robber returned to the crime scene three different times.

Why can’t I delete different? In each example, why is the word necessary? I don’t think that removing it would change or obscure the writer’s meaning. It seems clear enough that in each case we’re referring to separate lenders/reasons/times. But if different seems so superfluous, why do I so often leave it in? I can’t tell what’s holding me back. I would love to hear different thoughts from different readers.

5 Responses to ““Different” Type of Question”
  1. livermoron says:

    Case 1 – Different tells me that it is not five different agents all proposng the same lender
    Cast 2 – I agree with you.
    Case 3 – Implies some time elapsed between events. He didn’t return three times in the night.

  2. Eleanor says:

    My opinion is that it adds emphasis and tone. “Different” is not strictly necessary in any of the examples, but it carries a connotation of incredulity or disbelief; it’s become a kind of shorthand in colloquial speech for “Oh my goodness, can you believe there are a bunch of really distinct things going on here? And they’re all different from each other, too!” It’s redundancy that carries some added meaning.

    I’d also be inclined to delete it from the second example, because “many” has some of the same connotations. But in the other two, it’s establishing tone, and maybe that’s why you feel uncomfortable deleting it.

  3. Pat says:

    Is not your concession to tone somewhat — hmmm, what’s the word? — DESCRIPTIVIST?

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