isle and island

Discussion dans 'English Only' démarrée par argentina, 23 avril 2006.

  1. argentina Member

    when do you use either of them? Thanks

    <<Moderator Note:
    cecisoodeen's thread has been added to this existing thread on the same topic - starting at post #5.
  2. bartonig Senior Member

    UK English
    You have to apply the term that is customarily applied. For example, the Isle of Man, the island of Ireland, the Isle of Wight, the Isle of Dogs, the Isle of Sheppey and either the Shetland Isles or the Shetland Islands. In the latter case you can choose your term. There is no difference between isle and island; they are both pieces of land surrounded by water. Tthe Isle of Dogs is not technically an island but a peninsular. You might think that isles are smaller but then why the name the British Isles and why is Lundy an island? There is another word for small islands - islet. Rockall is an island but also a good candidate for being an islet.
  3. maxiogee Banned

    I think that (with the exception of proper names, such as bartonig cited) island is prose and isle is poetic.
  4. cecisoodeen New Member

    Spain español
    Hello, just a doubt: What´s the difference between isle and island, why Isle of Man but The Canary Islands?
    Many thanks.
  5. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    Hi cecisoodeen. Your question has already been answered in post#2.

    I would agree with Maxi that island is prose and isle more poetic.

    You might hear politicians talk about "these isles" in order to evoke a more emotional sense of place.
  6. mariposita

    mariposita Senior Member

    US, English
    I would always use the word island, unless I knew that the proper name for a particular island included the word isle. There are other terms for islands like cay or key. Again, I would only use these words to refer to a specific island by that name: Sand Key, Coral Cay, Longboat Key, etc.
  7. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    To a rhymwster or lyricist, nothing is in quite so short supply in the English language as a good one-syllable word-- spoken exactly when, and placed exactly where, one is called for. Isle is more "poetic" in part because of this fact.

    In West Side Story, when Anita sings "I Like to Be in America," one of the lines is, "I like the Isle of Manhattan." Solely, in my opinion, because it scans.

    The one-syllable variant makes its way in for utilitarian rather than aesthetic reasons-- but once it is part of a poem, by shameless tautology, it becomes poetic.

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