Often there’s no difference between these words. But good dictionaries point to some subtle differences. For example, we can’t use use ‘sort’ or ‘kind’ after a noun in a sentence like: What is your blood type?.
Compare these three English sentences:
2. What sort of prices do they charge?
(Expected answer is a description rather than any precise or named category.)
3. What kind of cheese is that?
(Probable answer is a named kind, but a descriptive answer is also possible.) ‘Type’ and ‘sort’ could also be used in this question.
- ‘type‘ usually means a precisely defined category.
- ‘sort‘ is more general, often about character rather than definition and can be used in a negative way e.g. What sort of person would do a terrible thing like that?
- ‘kind‘ is about half way between, usually referring to named kinds or large categories or families of things that are naturally related.
Note that ‘type’ cannot be used as a hedge phrase, as in ‘She’s a bit sort of (or kind of) upset about it.’
Video: Learn some idioms about different sorts of people.
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