Instant dan instance
This is BBC Learning English. Now, as you’ve probably worked out by now, the English language can be very confusing. But we at BBC Learning English aim to help you understand English more easily, so let’s look at some of the different types of words that may puzzle you!
One sort of confusing words are homophones – that means two words which sound the same but have different meanings. Here’s a basic example: mail – another word for post (MAIL) and male, meaning masculine (MALE).
Now, let’s join Finn and Cath, who are going to look at one pair of confusingly similar words.
Finn: Hello, I'm Finn and you're listening to Soundalikes from the BBC. Our language expert Cath is here today to help us with two words that sound alike – which two words are they today Cath?
Cath: Well, today we have two words which sound just slightly different to each other: instant and instance.
Finn: OK – instant and instance. I don’t know if you heard the difference there. Let’s work out the difference in meaning in these two news stories:
"Meanwhile, the Greek prime minister has authorised a way of enabling victims to get an instant cash handout.."
"In each instance the church was alerted but failed at the time to take legal action against those responsible."
Finn: Right – so we heard first there about the Greek Prime Minister giving an instant cash handout.
Cath: Yes – that’s instant – INSTANT which here is an adjective meaning straight away – or without delay.
Finn: Right, so, if it’s an instant cash handout, the money will be given out straight away. And for example in sports we might hear about an instant replay of a goal.
Cath: Yes that’s right, which is when you see the goal again immediately after it was scored – straight away.
Finn: Straight after. Now the second one wasn’t quite the same, was it Cath?
Cath: No, this is instance, INSTANCE, which means an example, a case or an occurrence of something.
Finn: Ok – so here we're talking about a church not taking legal action in each instance.
Cath: Yes, so - something is happening, but each time it happens, in each instance, they are not taking legal action.
Finn: So each time – in each instance, that’s how it’s used. Now how about this phrase which we hear quite often: for instance?
Cath: Well, for instance, means the same as for example. And that is also spelled INSTANCE.
Finn: Ok – today we had instant meaning straight away – and instance meaning an example, a time or occurrence. Thanks Cath!
Cath: Thanks Finn!
So we heard Finn and Cath talking about the words instant and instance . Let’s see if you can identify the two different words when used in a sentence. So, the two meanings are: instant – meaning straight away, and instance – as in example.
Listen to these examples and say which meaning they are.
"To my knowledge there's not a single instance of any health risk for any of the commercially-sold genetically engineered crops."
"Hand-held ECG monitors allow GPs to get an instant read-out and they can get immediate expert advice from the hospital over the phone."
If you got them all right – well done!
Let’s recap the spellings of those two words. instant – meaning straight away is spelt INSTANT and instance– meaning example, is INSTANCE.