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The Best of the Blog

Marzo 2015
The Speak Up blog answers any questions you may have either about the English language or our articles. Write to us (preferably in English) 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!

Rise or raise?
I would like to know the difference between rise and raise. Thanks.

As verbs, the difference is fairly simple: to rise is an intransitive verb (like alzarsi in Italian): the sun rises at 6, I rise at 8. To raise is a transitive verb and takes an object (like alzare in Italian): We are going to raise the flag, we are going to raise the money for this project.
As nouns, the difference is more complicated: you can get a pay rise and also a raise in salary.

Meetings and conventions
What is  the difference between the terms meeting, conference and convention?

A meeting is for a small group of people, anything from two upwards.
A conference is like a convegno (a series of lectures and meetings over the course of one or several days), but you can also have a press conference, if you wish to make an announcement to the media. In Britain there is also a “party conference”: this is the annual gathering of a political party (Labour, Conservative etc.) during which its delegates meet and discuss policy, elect leaders etc. In the United States the Republican and Democrat parties have a convention every four years: here they choose their presidential and vice-presidential candidates.
Also, in more general terms, the Americans tend to say “convention” for “convegno,” whereas the British tend to say “conference.”

I would like to ask you about the words engine and motor. For instance: can I use... “the motor of an airplane” instead of... “the engine of an airplane”? Do they have the same meaning?
Thank you!

Technically, they have the same meaning, but most people tend to use the word “engine” these days. “Motor” is (or was) used more for cars and there is even a verb “to motor” meaning “to drive,” which is now considered a bit old-fashioned. And some people, particularly Londoners, sometimes refer to their car as their “motor” (an abbreviation of motor car).

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