Sometimes people use the terms 180 degrees and 360 degrees to explain situations in a person’s life. This comes from the idea of a circle, which has 360 degrees. However, it is a common error to use 360 degrees when one means 180 degrees.
If you want to explain that a situation is opposite from what it was, use 180 degrees because this indicates a half circle (or think of it as a half turn, where you are standing in the opposite direction as you were from the start).
Example: Steve really cleaned up his act. Now he never misses class and he does all his homework. He’s really gone 180 degrees.
If you want to explain that a situation is back to its original state, use 360 degrees. Think again of the circle. If one goes 360 degrees, one makes an entire circle, or turn, and is back in the original position.
Example: Steve is back to his old ways. He skips class and doesn’t turn in his homework. He’s really gone 360 degrees.
Fill in either 180 or 360 in the blanks below. The answers are at the bottom.
1. Martha has made a _______-degree turn in her life. She has lost 400 pounds, has stopped eating junk food, and exercises daily.
2. Zelda didn’t learn from her mistakes. She has gone _______ degrees.
3. Martin made a _______. He’s back to huffing glue and listening to that darn rock and roll music.
4. Chloe has stopped beating up her little sister and setting the house on fire. Now she even helps old ladies cross the street. She has really gone _______ degrees.
1) 180 2) 360 3) 360 4) 180