We recently got a great question from a Culips listener via email (Thanks Ana!), so I thought I’d share my answer here, in case other people are wondering about the same thing.
Ana wanted to know more about the verbs to ship and to deliver, and the differences between the two. This is a great questions, especially these days, when ordering things online is becoming so common!
The verbs to ship and to deliver have similar meanings, but there are some small differences. However, in some situations, people use them as synonyms, so it can get confusing.
To ship something means to cause it to be transported by someone else. For example, if you move to another country, you can ship your clothes there by sending them through the mail. You’re not the one transporting the clothes yourself, but you are causing them to be transported by paying the post office to do it for you. To ship something usually means to send it somewhere by getting someone else (like a company) to transport it for you.
The verb to ship is usually only used to talk about transporting something over a long distance, such as from one city to another, or across the ocean. If something doesn’t need to be transported very far, you can instead say that you have it delivered or get it delivered. For example, you could get flowers delivered to your mother on her birthday by calling a flower shop in your town and placing an order.
So this brings us to the verb to deliver…
To deliver something means to take something that somebody gives you and transport it to someone else. So you are the one who ships your clothes to another country, and the postal service delivers them. Even though you’re shipping the clothes, you aren’t delivering them, because you’re not the one who’s actually moving them. Similarly, when you get flowers delivered to your sweetheart, a flower shop employee is the one who delivers them.
When to ship and to deliver are used as synonyms
Sometimes these verbs are used interchangeably. For example, the website of a company that sells chocolates online might say “We’ll ship to anywhere in the world.” But it could also say, “We’ll deliver to anywhere in the world.” This is because the chocolate company might pay someone else to transport the chocolates (that is, the company ships them), or the company might have employees who transport the chocolates themselves (so the company delivers them).
But companies sometimes also say that they deliver even if they pay another company to do it.
Using to ship and to deliver in your daily life
When it comes to normal people (not companies), you should only say that you’re delivering something if you’re actually carrying the object from one place to another yourself. If somebody else transports the object for you, then you’re shipping it or having it delivered.
I hope this explanation is helpful. It’s definitely one of those things that can be confusing in English! If there’s anything about these verbs that’s still unclear to you, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to clear it up.
If you ever read this blog you may have noticed that one of my favourite things to do in my spare time is listen and watch for expressions we’ve looked at in Culips’ episodes! But seriously — I was surfing the net, looking at a site I like to check out from time to time called PostSecret. It is an ongoing art project where people mail in their secrets on postcards anonymously. It started in 2005 and was created by American Frank Warren. At his website www.postsecret.com new postcards are updated every Sunday. Sometimes the secrets are very specific and sometimes the secrets are very general. The cards are always beautiful and interesting.
If you like art and you are learning English this could be a fun site to check out. The English is always simple and there is an image that helps or adds to the written part. This week there is a card that reads “it makes me happy that none of us get a how-to guide/we’re all just kind of winging it.” We looked at this expression on Culips at the end of 2009. Here is a link to this episode if you are curious.
And are you wondering what that postsecret means? The person writing seems to be talking about life and that no one knows exactly what we are supposed to do with our lives, in other words, “none of us get a how-to guide.” We don’t have any big long term plans we are just acting in the moment of life or “winging it.” Here is a direct link to this postcard.
If you check out PostSecret let me know what you think! Does a similar project exist in any other languages?
Do you ever get a song stuck in your head? You keep singing it over and over in your mind.
Last weekend I edited the Catch Word episode about the word wannabe. In it, Jessie and Maura talk about the singer Lady Gaga and how someone might be a Lady Gaga wannabe and dress like her and say provocative things like she does. It’s an interesting episode so check it out here if you want to know what a wannabe is.
Well, ever since I listened to that episode I’ve had Lady Gaga’s song Poker Face stuck in my head. Here’s a short clip of the song. If you’re interested in learning more about what a poker face is, check out our Catch Word episode titled Stone, where Maura and I discuss the idiom poker face.
When a song is stuck in my head, I often find myself humming it out loud too. To hum a song is to make the tune of the song without opening your lips and singing the words. I’m really bad at singing (and actually even at humming), so people can never recognize what song it is.
What song is stuck in your head?
I went snowshoeing a couple weeks ago and wanted to share some photos with you. You can see in the picture where we are standing that my two friends are wearing some funny things on their feet. These are snowshoes! They are like shoes for snow. But actually, they are just attachments that go on the bottom of your boots. When you wear snowshoes you can walk in the forest in deep snow and these special attachments help keep you above the snow.
Snowshoe is a noun, but can also be used as a verb.
I had to upload these pictures now, because it seems like it is almost spring in our part of Canada. We have been having temperatures above 0 with lots of sun lately. Hopefully spring has come early this year!
One of the things I love about being a part of this podcast is seeing the English that we share here at Culips being used in real situation that I encounter in my life! The other day I was waiting at a cash register to pay for some photocopies and I noticed a box that said “Rain Checks.” Do you know what this means? When I saw this it made me think of the episode that we did talking about that exact expression. You can find it here. Luckily, I didn’t need a rain check that time.
Then it also got me thinking about the word check and how normally in Canada we should spell the word cheque. Many Canadians do not know the spelling differences between what we use here and other countries. This means that even business documents or advertising may contain words spelled incorrectly by Canadian standards. Depending what kind of English you are studying you might see words spelled differently. This is another good reason to check out our section on these spelling differences here. Culips is based in Canada, so we decided to use Canadian spelling, of course.
I wonder if you have ever noticed spelling differences or been confused by them. Or do you think that it is easy to understand spelling differences between Canada, the U.S. and Britain?