weak and strong forms

Some words in English have two pronunciations: one when they are stressed ,and one when they are not. Compare: I got up at /at/six o’clock. What are you looking at? /’aet/ Most of these words_are prepositions, pronouns, conjunctions, articles and auxiliary verbs. They are not usually stressed, so the unstressed (‘weak’) pronunciation is the usual…

ocean / sea / lake / pond

Technically, there is a difference between an ocean and a sea. An ocean is an extremely large body of salt water, and a sea is partially surrounded by land. There are only five oceans: the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, Arctic Ocean, and Antarctic Ocean. There are more than 50 seas, including the Mediterranean…

For and At (Price) – For

For and At (Price) – For Don’t Say:I bought a book at fifty pence. Say:I bought a book for fifty pence.

ought

Forms Ought is a ‘modal auxiliary verb’. The third person singular has no -s. She ought to understand. We usually make questions and negatives without do. Ought we to go now? (NOT Do we ought . . . ?) It oughtn’t to rain today.After ought, we use the infinitive with to. (This makes ought different…

Use Pareto 80 -20 Efficiency – Stop Wasting Time on Words That Matter Less!

“Focus on being productive instead of busy.” – Tim Ferriss You don’t need to learn all the words of English before you can start to speak it. Remember all we’ve discussed about building your confidence by learning to speak actual English sentences quickly. One key to this is to first learn the words that matter…

ever

Ever means ‘at any time’. Compare: Do you ever go to Ireland on holiday? ( = ‘at any time’) We always go to Ireland on holiday. ( = ‘every time’) We never have holidays in England. ( = ‘at no time’) Ever is used mostly in questions. We also use ever in affirmative sentences after…

singular and plural: pronunciation of plural nouns

The plural ending -(e)s has three different pronunciations. After one of the ‘sibilant’ sounds /s/, Izl, ll, /3A /tj/ and /d3A -es is pronounced hzl. buses/’bASiz/ crashes /’kraefiz/ watches/’wotjiz/ quizzes/’ kwiziz/ garages/’gaera:3iz/ br/dges/’brid3iz/ After any other ‘unvoiced’ sound (/pA /f/, /0/, /t/ or /k/), -(ejs is pronounced /s/. cups /kAps/ bafbs /ba:0s/ boo/cs/buks/ coughs /kofs/…

-ing form or infinitive?

Some verbs and adjectives can be followed by an infinitive or by an -ing form, often with a difference of meaning. remember and forget We remember or forget doing things in the past — things that we did. Forget . . . -ing is used especially in the structure I’ll never forget . . ….

Guilty of, not for

Guilty of, not for Don’t Say:He was found guilty for murder. Say:He was found guilty of murder

Relationships

Types of relationships Here is a scale showing closeness and distance in relationships in different contexts. * ex- can be used with or without (informally) another word: She’s my ex. (girlfriend, etc.) – Mate is a colloquial word for a good friend. It can also be used in compounds to describe a person you share…

Mathematics, etc + singular verb

Mathematics, etc + singular verb Don’t Say:Mathematics are not easy to learn. Say:Mathematics is not easy to learn. Note:The names of sconces and subjects ending m -ies (like mathematics, physics, politics, gymnastics) generally take a singular verb.

Misuse of miser as an adjective

Misuse of miser as an adjective Don’t Say:Jill loved money; she was miser. Say:Jill loved money; she was a miser. Note:Miser is a noun, and we can’t use it as adjective the adjective is miserly.She was miserly.

relative pronouns

Relative pronouns are who, whom, whose, which, that and what. Relative pronouns do two things: a. they join clauses together, like conjunctions b. they are the subjects or objects of clauses (except whose). Compare: What’s the name of the tail man? He just came in. What’s the name of the tall man who just came…

can / could / able to

“Can” and “able to” are the same in the present tense: Can you take on this project? Yes, I can take on this project. Are you able to take on this project? Yes, I’m able to take on this project. The negative forms are can’t and not able to – or unable to: Sorry, I…

Omission of the before names of nationalities

Omission of the before names of nationalities Don’t Say:English are fond of sports. Say:The English are fond of sports. Note:Place the definite article before the names of nationalities, describing a people collectively: the British, the French, the Dutch, the Swiss, the Chinese, the Sudanese, etc.

Misuse of shoot for shot

Misuse of shoot for shot Don’t Say:I had a good shoot at the goal. Say:I had a good shot at the goal. Note:Shoot (in football) is the verb The noun is shot

earn / gain / win

To win is to be #1 in a competition, or to receive an award. My soccer team won the game 3-1. I want to win the lottery! John won a prize in the science competition. You can win a game, a race, a match, a competition, or the lottery. You can also win a medal…

Prepositions – About

About identifies a topic. Pattern 1: noun + be + about + nounThis book is about prepositions.Nouns commonly used before about:argument, article, book, conversation, disagreement, discussion, joke, lecture, movie, news, play, program, report, speech, story Pattern 2: noun + about + nounShe gave me advice about my loan.Nouns commonly used before about:assurance, complaint, comment, gossip,…

Behind (= at the back of)

Behind (= at the back of) Don’t Say:Edward hid behind of a large tree. Say:Edward hid behind a large tree.

relative pronouns: what

What is different from other relative pronouns. Other relative pronouns usually refer to a noun that comes before. I gave her the money that she needed. The thing that I’d like most is a home computer. (That refers to— repeats the meaning of— the money and the thing.) We use what as [noun + relative…

the adverb

The adverb, the fifth part of speech, modifies (qualifies or limits) verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. An adverb can answer any of these four questions—Where? When? How? To what extent? ➲ Adverbs modify verbs: Henry swam brilliantly. (How did Henry swim?) The train then came down the line. (When did the train come down the…

oppress / suppress / repress

The verb oppress means to keep somebody down by using unjust force. For example, a cruel dictator might oppress his country’s people, or the ethnic majority of a population might oppress the minority. Oppress always has a negative connotation, and oppression is usually a continuous condition and not just a onetime event. The word repress…

Misuse of one and parts of one with the singular

Misuse of one and parts of one with the singular Don’t Say:I read it in one and a half hour. Say:I read it in one and a half hours. Note:In English, use the plural with anything greater than one, even it it’s less than two.

hard and hardly

Hard can be an adjective or an adverb. It’s a hard job. (adjective) This is very hard bread, (adjective) You have to work hard, (adverb) (NOT You have to work hardly.) Hit it hard, (adverb) Hardly is an adverb. It means ‘almost no’ or ‘almost not’. He hardly works at all. ( = He does…

Words and Prepositions

Verbs: Some verbs are usually followed by a preposition. I listen to the radio in bed in the morning. I waited for the bus for half an hour yesterday. I asked for a black coffee, not a white one. Where do I pay for our meal? This book belongs to Sarah Smith. What are you…

hard / hardly

Hard can be an adjective or an adverb – and the adjective form has two meanings! This book is too hard for me. I can’t read it. (hard = adjective = difficult) This mattress is too hard. I can’t sleep. (hard = adjective = rigid, the opposite of “soft”) She’s working hard to finish the…

for: purpose

We use for before a noun to talk about a purpose, or reason for doing something. We went to the pub for a drink I went to London for an interview. We do not use for before a verb to talk about purpose. I went to the pub to have a drink. (NOT . ….

10 Phrases for Agreeing

1. Exactly.2. Absolutely.3. That’s so true.4. That’s for sure.5. I agree 100%6. I couldn’t agree with you more.7. That’s exactly what I think. / That’s exactly how I feel.8. (informal) Tell me about it! / You’re telling me!9. (informal) I’ll say!10. I suppose so. (use this phrase for weak agreement – you agree, but reluctantly)Note:…

Idioms – miscellaneous

Idioms connected with paying, buying and selling – He bought a real pig in a poke when he got that car. [buy something without examining it properly first] – We’ll probably have to pay over the odds for a hotel room during the week of the festival.[pay more than the usual rate] – He did…

Anxious (= troubled) about, not /or

Anxious (= troubled) about, not /or Don’t Say:They’re anxious for his health. Say:They’re anxious about his health. Note:Anxious meaning wishing very much takes for. Parents are anxious for their children’s success.