Posts Tagged ‘difference’

A reader writes …

“There has been so much funeral coverage on TV lately … I am wondering, what is the difference between a coffin and a casket?”

Good question. We did some research on this in 1997, so here’s a chance to add to that and relate our findings to you.

Many times, especially in the United States, the terms are used interchangeably. In Europe, we find the distinction is made more frequently.

Per several authoratative funeral sources …

A coffin is wider at the shoulder and tapers toward the feet. This shape was employed to save on the cost of wood as there was no need for width all the way to the bottom. This style is still found in Europe today. Coffins are sometimes very simple pine boxes, unlined and unadorned. Fancier coffins are lined, have a coffin plate of brass or silver with the deceased’s name and dates and sometimes a sentiment, and have three metal handles on either side for the six pallbearers to grasp on the way to the grave.

Princess Diana’s burial container is a traditional, tapered, heavy oak, flag-draped coffin.

diana coffin

06 September 1997


A casket originally referred to (and is defined in the dictionary as) a small chest for storing and carrying jewels or precious objects. A burial casket is a rectangular container of the same width from top to bottom. It is generally padded and lined, and goes into the ground after the grave has been lined with a vault. A casket usually opens at the top so the head and shoulders of the deceased may be viewed at the wake, and has the customary three handles on either side for pallbearers.

Michael Jackson’s burial container was a fancy, rectangular, gold-plated, solid bronze, velvet-lined casket.

michael casket

07 July 2009

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A reader writes:

“What is the difference between ‘There‘ and ‘Their‘ ?”

First, the grammatical specifics (we’ve also added “They’re“), then, the tips …

1. There

  • the adverb (as opposed to here): in or at that place; at that point in action or speech; into or to that place. “Let’s go there!”
  • the pronoun: that place; that point. There is no hatred among friends.”
  • the noun: that state or condition. “We’ll take you to the next stop. You’re on your own from there.”
  • the adjective: a demonstrative adjective used after a noun. “I read that book there.”
  • the interjection: used to express satisfaction. There! We’re done with this list.” (almost)
  • the combining form (obscure): We will not discuss today.

2. Their

  • the possessive (of they) personal pronoun:  used as an attributive adjective before a noun. “… their house.” “Announcing their arrival.”
  • the gender-neutral replacement: that person. used after an indefinite singular antecedent instead of a definite his or her. “Everyone sings their own tune.”

3. They’re

  • the contraction: short for “they are.” They’re coming our way.”


1. “There” includes “here,” so use this when talking about a location or point of action.

2. “Their” includes an “i,” so, be possessive, and use this as a pronoun (as you would use “mine,” “his,” or “hers“).

3. “They’re” includes most of the word “are,” so use this when multiples are doing something.

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