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Ship, Boat, Whatever...

I just had to check an English translation of a text, and one of the things that confused me was that there was mention of reaching a place by ship, while I thought it should be by boat (The Neckar is a sweet-water-river, after all).

So I AskJeeves-ed and found a few pages that describe this and other subtle differences between words. Any native speakers who want to chime in with their opinion of the boat/ship difference or other similar stuff?

Reader Comments: (RSS Feed)
Aaron Ballman writes:
English *sucks* -- I should know, I speak it. ;-) It has subtle distinctions depending upon region, so what might pass for a word or phrase in one place won't have much meaning in another place. For example: Around here in Minnesota, people say "piece of cake" to mean something was easy to accomplish. In Texas, people look at you funny.. it's called "piece of pie" there. Then in Florida, you hear people say "can of corn." So! On to your original question. Where I'm from, you use a boat to cross small bodies of water, and a ship to cross large bodies of water.
Ben writes:
My native-speaker instinct, which I just confirmed with OS X's dictionary, is that a ship is larger than a boat and used on oceans. OS X's dictionary says: "A vessel larger than a boat for transporting people or goods by sea."
S�ren Kuklau writes:
I think there is no more real clear distinction. Traditionally, "Where I'm from, you use a boat to cross small bodies of water, and a ship to cross large bodies of water." is probably accurate, but in practice, I've often seen people use the word boat when we would say Schiff. In fact, LEO suggests so as well: "Boot" translates to "boat", but "boat" translates to "Boot" or "Schiff". Likewise, "Schiff" translates to "boat", "ship", "vessel", whereas "ship" translates solely to "Schiff". So "A vessel larger than a boat for transporting people or goods by sea." is clearly true, but for your specific case, either "ship" or "boat" would work. When in doubt, consider "vessel". ;-)
Aaron Ballman writes:
I learned something interesting today from my dad -- according to the US military (the Navy, to be exact), any vehicle traveling on the top of the water is a ship. If it's underwater, it's a boat.
Anonymous writes:
A ship can carry a boat, however a boat cannot carry a ship. There are two exceptions: Submarines are boats because they traditionally were carried aboard ships. In the Great Lakes the Ore Ships are not actually ships, but are "Ore Boats" because they are restricted to inland waterways.
Ray Murphy writes:
Is it a ship or a boat ... the difference is a question of size ... a little one like yours is a boat ... a big one like mine is a ship
Or E-Mail Uli privately.

Created: 2005-12-09 @392 Last change: 2024-02-22 @248 | Home | Admin | Edit
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