Expanded and Extended

By Maeve Maddox

Tali asks,

What is the difference between “extended” and “expanded” When do you use either?

Although extend and expand can be used interchangeably in some contexts, extend applies to things that are being stretched out, while expand applies to things that are spread out. One implies length; the other area.

If you extend your arm, for example, you stretch it out, making it longer. If your waist expands, it’s getting larger. As a business expands, or gets larger, it may extend its opening hours.

Extend comes from a word meaning “to stretch out, lengthen.” (Latin extendere, “stretch out,” from ex– “out” + tendere, “to stretch.”)

Expand comes from a word meaning “spread out, spread flat.” (Latin ex– “out” + pandere “to spread, stretch.”

In this quotation that uses both words, extend conveys a lengthening of time, while expand indicates that more people will be covered by the credit:

On Wednesday, the Senate voted to extend and expand the tax credit to include many buyers who already own homes.

Here are some uses of both words:

Laguna College of Art and Design officials hope to expand the library and build a new gallery.

Availability of the iPad will expand to all of Best Buy’s U.S. stores

Sessions Predicts Congress Will Extend Tax Cuts After Election

Investigators are going to extend the probe until February 2011

A contract might be expanded to include additional specifications, or extended to last for a longer period:

BP could expand the contract of a local disaster relief company, giving it the power to call in additional resources to defend Mobile Bay in the event it’s threatened by oil…

Last season’s UEFA Champions League runners-up, Bayern Munich, have decided to extend the contract of Coach Louis van Gaal.

When expanded and extended are used as adjectives, context determines meaning:

This article explains how to allocate memory and set up your system to run both expanded and extended memory.

The Extended Mind refers to an emerging concept…that addresses the question as to the division point between the mind and the environment…

I have returned [from my travels] with an expanded mind and an open heart.

Bottom line: Choose expand if what you’re talking about is getting wider, becoming more inclusive, or taking up more space. Use extend if what you’re talking about is increasing in duration, length, or reach.

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2 Responses to “Expanded and Extended”

  • PreciseEdit

    Good differentiation!

    “If our waists expand, we will need to extend our belts.”

  • Bryan

    Thanks for the info! I mean, thanks for “expanding” my knowledge. 🙂

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