interrupt or disrupt class

Discussion in 'English Only' started by amby, Jun 9, 2012.

  1. amby Banned

    I looked up the dictionary, but still it is not clear. What is the differnce between 'interrupt class' and ' disrupt class'?

    Cellphones interrupt class vs cellphones disrupt class.
  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Both words mean pretty much the same thing to me, Amby. "Disrupt" sounds stronger to me than "interrupt" does. I think either word would work fine in your sentence.
  3. Cagey post mod

    English - US
    They could be interchangeable in many cases.

    However, I would use interrupt for occasions when the class has to pause briefly and then starts up again. For instance, someone might interrupt the class to make an announcement.

    I would use disrupt if something causes the students to stop paying attention to the teacher and start doing something else. Usually, it takes some effort to get the students to focus on their work after the class has been disrupted. For instance, if a squirrel gets into the classroom and the students start chasing it, the squirrel disrupted the class.

    I would say that if the teacher gets a phone call, that can interrupt the class. However, if students are getting phone calls, the cell-phones disrupt the class.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2012
  4. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I think Cagey is making an interesting point. A call to the teacher is an interruption because she's in charge and may take it and reply; a call to a student is a disruption because students are not usually allowed to have their phones switched on in class, and will not, in a well-ordered class, be allowed to take the calls and respond.
  5. redgiant Senior Member

    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Context: The clack of heels echoed through the empty library when I was in the middle of cramming for a final exam tomorrow . I couldn't concentrate with all the click-clack going on. I looked up from my book but couldn't find the source. All I could do was cursed in my mind at whoever was "horsing around" in the library. By the time the sound was finally over, I had forgotten almost everything I had crammed into my brain.

    In this example, is it okay to use "disrupted":
    I was disrupted (rather than interrupted) by the clack of heels while studying?

    I take it that from the posts so far that "disrupted" and "interrupted" could be interchangeable in most case, save for the classroom example. Like owlman said, "disrupted" sounds stronger and fits in the above situation where I forgot almost anything because of the annoying sound. Would native speakers agree with choosing "disrupted" over "interrupted" in my case?
  6. Bevj

    Bevj Allegra Moderata

    Girona, Spain
    English (U.K.)
    In your example I would use neither. My preference would be 'distracted'.

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