Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog

Feb 5 2010   1:49PM GMT

substantial vs. substantive

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
They felt the report was unclear and requested a new plan defining __________ changes rather than broad, ill-defined goals.
a. substantial
b. substantive

Answer: Either.

Explanation:
There are those who would argue that substantive refers to things that have substance — real things, rather than imaginary things and that substantial should be reserved to refer to things that are large or major. In fact, though, the two are both used for the first meaning.

On the other hand, substantive doesn’t ever mean large or major.

Pain in the English has a debate about substantive versus substantial.

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Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is Regional Internet Registry (RIR).

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