As far as my understanding goes, if one is asked "what is the difference between x and y?" you interpret it as x - y?

So, for example if you have "what is the difference between -2 and 1?" one can solve it as -2 - (+1)?

Which would provide the answer as -3. However, the book's answer is 3, which looks to me like they were looking for absolute value instead of actually solving the difference between -2 and 1.

I got that answer incorrect as I was doing it like an equation and stated it as -3, but I completely understand why it is incorrect if you take into consideration absolute value.

Am I mistaken in my assumption here?