what’s the difference between “apparent”, “evident” and “obvious”?

I believe they are all the same, but is there any case in which not all of them are correct?

Here are the examples, from an English textbook:

1. It is (quite) __ that he took the wrong path.

A.apparent B.evident C.stupid D.absurd

2. It is __ that two and two make four.

A.apparent B.evident C.obvious D.visible

3. It is __ (that) you have been cheated.

A.clear B.apparent C.regretful D.ignorant

The answers are B, C, and A.

I think A is also a correct answer to Q1, A and B are also correct answers to Q2, and B is also a correct answer to Q3.

It is not that easy when it comes to answering questions in an exam, because there is only one answer I can choose, and if I’m wrong, I lose points. So, is it really wrong to use the other words in these cases? Why?

Answer

1.It is (quite) __ that he took the wrong path.

A.apparent B.evident C.stupid D.absurd

2.It is __ that two and two make four.

A.apparent B.evident C.obvious D.visible

3.It is __ (that) you have been cheated.

A.clear B.apparent C.regretful D.ignorant

And the answers are B C A.

I agree with these as being the correct answers, by far the best although the alternatives are reasonable and in some cases only ring slight bells of warning…
It is however very hard to explain why, as it is a matter of idiom, or patterns we are used to. But here goes…

  1. apparent would mean it is (patently) clear – in this case the fundamental meaning that it appears in front of you rather than the less literal meaning in the sense of “appearances can be deceptive”. That it is evident rather than apparent follows from the proposal being past and not something that is visible now (whether deceptive or not). stupid and absurd are not quite the correct/complete construction – it is stupid of him to have taken the wrong path; it is stupid to think that he took the wrong path; it is absurd to think that he would have taken the wrong path.

  2. apparent would mean there is room for doubt, and opportunity is being provided to argue or disprove; evident also means there is some evidence and a conclusion has been drawn, although self-evident, like obvious, could be used to indicate that no evidence is needed other than seeing (and counting what is as obvious as, indeed part of, the hand in front of your face).

  3. apparent would mean there is room for doubt and I would expect a but to follow; clear (or obvious) is much more certain and doesn’t have the same degree of expectation that you will go on to further explore the truth of the matter. Then regretful should be regretable, and ignorant doesn’t fit either with the third person or the (that) clause: He is ignorant about your being cheated, etc.

The only alternative other than the specified correct answer that is plausible is 3B – and that just doesn’t sound finished.

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : zwangxian , Answer Author : David M W Powers

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