When you distinguish things, you see them clearly, or you tell them apart from other things. And when you notice the distinctions between things, you notice their differences: the parts or features that make it easy to tell them apart.
Ava and Alexis are identical twins, so it can be hard to distinguish them: hard to tell who's who. But they do have some distinctions that help you tell them apart, or distinguish them. For example, Ava is a little shorter than Alexis.
It would be a lot easier to distinguish one twin from the other if one of them decided to cut their hair very short, or even dye it a different color! That would make the twins especially distinct from each other. Distinct things and people are easy to see, easy to notice, or easy to tell apart, because they're different from the things around them. Like this distinct red pencil. (You can learn more about the word "distinct" here.)
Let's focus now on the word "distinctive," which is a little different. It shares a history with the word "distinct," but in modern English, it's developed its own separate meaning.
Although "distinctive" sometimes just means "distinct, easy to notice," as in "The man in the Curious George stories wears a distinctive yellow hat"—confusing, I know—it often means "special, individual, or unique."
In other words, when you say that something is distinctive, you often mean it's cool, weird, unusual, different, or very specific or particular.
For example, the man in the Curious George stories dresses distinctively: in a special, unique way that sets him apart from other people. He's a distinctive dresser, meaning you can look at his clothes and accessories and immediately know who he is.
We often say that something has a distinctive taste, smell, or sound. Coffee has a distinctive smell: as soon as you get a whiff, you immediately know it's coffee. It smells like nothing else in the world.
To sum that up, distinctive things are singular and peculiar: like nothing else, and easy to identify.
Make a flash card:
You can write your own definition and choose your own picture, or copy mine.
special and specific in a way that's easy to notice
Write your own sentence!
You can use either of the two ideas I'll suggest, or you can invent your own. Include as much detail as you can!
(Source) Write a sentence with the word DISTINCTIVE:
Remember: something distinctive tells you what it is: it immediately sets itself apart from other things.
Idea 1: "(Some famous actor, singer, or celebrity) has a distinctive voice: you can recognize it immediately because it's (some particular type, like rich, deep, light, high, low, nasal, smooth, or gravelly)."
Idea 2: "When I was (in some place, or doing something), I instantly picked up on the distinctive scent of (some specific spice, food, drink, animal, or thing)."
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