good evening / good night

Evening is the time when the sky starts to get dark – usually around 6-8 PM. Night is the time when it is dark and people are generally sleeping. Say “Good evening” to say “hello” after 6:00 PM. “Good evening” is commonly used at restaurants, in a professional context, and in speeches (when you speak…

think about / think of

The two most common prepositions used after the verb “think” are “about” and “of.” They are very similar, but there is a small difference. Usually when you think of something, it is a brief moment – just a few seconds. It is also used for opinions. When you think about something, you are considering it…

wish

We can use wish + infinitive to mean want. Wish is more formal. I wish to see the manager, please. For the diffferences between wish, want, expect, hope and look forward to, We can also use wish to express regrets — to say that we would like things to be different. We use a past…

fun / funny

The word fun (adj. or n.) means something is enjoyable; you like doing it. Amusement parks are fun. I think playing soccer is more fun than playing basketball. We had fun at the party. The word funny (adj.) means something makes you laugh; it is full of comedy: The movie is really funny. It’s a…

beside / besides

Beside is a preposition of location – it means “next to” or “on the side of.” There’s a printer beside the computer. However, “beside” is a little bit formal. In casual everyday English, we’d usually say that there’s a printer next to the computer. Besides is an adverb that means “in addition to”: Besides being…

awkward / embarrassing

Something that is embarrassing makes you feel uncomfortable in front of other people. Your face turns red and you wish you could disappear! If you are singing a song in a performance, and you forget the words, that would be embarrassing. If you are introduced to somebody, and then later you call them by the…

will

Forms Will is a ‘modal auxiliary verb’. It has no -s in the third person singular; questions and negatives are made without do: after will, we use an infinitive without to. Will the train be on time? Contractions are ‘II, won’t. Do you think it’ll rain ? It won’t rain. Future We can use will…

electric / electrical / electronic

This is a doubt that even native English speakers have! Electric and electrical are essentially the same – they refer to any device that uses electricity. Flashlights are electric; we also have electric lights and electric heaters, and nowadays even electric cars. Something that is electric just uses electricity for energy. Something that is electronic…

last / latest

Both last and latest can be used to mean the “most recent”: Did you read the last issue of the magazine? Did you read the latest issue of the magazine? My last post on the blog got a lot of comments. My latest post on the blog got a lot of comments. I saw her…

late / lately

Late can be an adjective or an adverb that means after the correct time. I’m not hungry because I had a late lunch. (adjective) He slept late and missed his first class. (adverb) Lately is an adverb that means the same as recently. I haven’t studied a lot lately. Work has been busy for the…

do / make

DO generally refers to the action itself, and MAKE usually implies that there is a result. For example, if you “make breakfast,” the result is an omelet! If you “make a suggestion,” you have created a recommendation. Use DO for actions, obligations, and repetitive tasks: do the laundry do homework do the shopping do business…

dinner / supper / meal / snack

The word meal means any time when you eat a large amount of food. There are typically 3 meals per day – breakfast (in the morning), lunch (mid-day), and dinner (at night). A snack is a smaller amount of food (for example, a bag of chips or a piece of fruit) and you can eat…

ago / back / before

Ago and back are used for past times from the present moment: I graduated from high school ten years ago. (ten years in the past from today) We sent the package three days ago. (three days in the past from today) I moved here about five years back. (informal – five years in the past…

ill / sick

Sick is the less formal word, and it usually describes a more temporary health problem – often nausea, although not always. If you’re feeling sick, you might need to vomit. If you get the flu, you might be sick for two weeks. If a child is sick, he stays home from school that day. Taking…

angry / upset

If someone is upset, it means they are in an agitated mental or emotional state. If somebody is angry, it means they are NOT happy, they are hostile. Being angry is stronger than being upset. If somebody accidentally spilled coffee all over your new clothes, you would probably be upset (because it is inconvenient to…

hope / wish

The word wish is usually used for hypothetical (imagined) situations, when you want something in the present or past to be different. When you’re wishing a present situation was different, use wish + simple past: I live near the beach, but I wish I lived near the mountains. I wish my mother knew how to…

already / yet

Both yet and already are used with the present perfect tense. Already is usually used in positive sentences. Yet is usually used in questions and negative sentences. Imagine that you and your friend are going to travel. There are many things to do, and you ask your friend if he has done these things: Have…

bother / disturb

To disturb means to interfere with something that is at rest or at peace. For example, throwing a stone into a calm lake would disturb the surface of the water. To bother specifically means to annoy somebody. Imagine you are trying to study and your kids keep coming into your room and making noise. In…

house / home

A house is a specific type of building. It is different from an apartment. A house is a physical thing – we can talk about a big house, a small house, a blue house, etc. You can also talk about doing work on your house – painting your house, remodeling your house, building a house,…

travel / trip / journey

A trip (n.) is the act of going to another place (often for a short period of time) and returning. We took a five-day trip to the Amazon. You’re back from vacation! How was your trip? I went on business trips to Switzerland and Germany last month. Use the verbs “take” and “go on” with…

nausea / nauseous / queasy

Technically, the words nauseous and nauseating describe something that makes you feel sick, and the words nauseated and queasy describe the way you feel – like your stomach is uncomfortable and you might vomit: A nauseous smell of rotten fruit came from the garbage bags. That scene in the movie is nauseating; I wish they…

apologize / sorry

Both of these words express regret for some problem or something you did wrong. I’m sorry is less formal, and “I apologize” is more formal. There are a few different ways to continue the sentence. You can say: I’m sorry (that) I yelled at you. I’m sorry for yelling at you. I apologize for yelling…

beautiful / pretty

These words describe something that is attractive, nice to look at. The word beautiful is stronger and more complete. You could describe a spectacular sunset as beautiful, or a very attractive woman in a fancy dress as beautiful. The word pretty is more informal and superficial. A nice arrangement of flowers could be described as…

income / salary / wage

The money you receive for doing your job is your salary. A salary is usually the same amount every month; it doesn’t change based on the exact number of hours you work. A wage is when you receive money based on the number of hours you work: If you work 1 hour, you get a…

poison / venom

Both of these words describe substances that cause injury, illness, or death when they get into your body. The difference is that poison gets into your body if you inhale it (breathe it in), ingest it (eat or drink), or touch it. Venom gets into your body if it is injected in, such as through…

marriage / married / wedding

The wedding is the official ceremony/party. (The party is usually called the “reception”): I’m going to my cousin’s wedding on October 7. We want to have a band at our wedding reception. The wedding will be at the church, and the reception will be at a restaurant. The marriage is the relationship in general, or…

year-old / years old

When you say the age of someone or something, you can say subject + is + # years old: I’m thirty years old. That boy is fourteen years old. These houses are 200 years old. When you want to say the age before the subject, then use #-year-old: My twenty-year-old sister A fourteen-year-old boy The…

ancient / antique

The word ancient means very, very old – usually hundreds or thousands of years old: Archeologists found remnants of an ancient civilization that lived in the area around 600 BC. The word antique describes an item that is from an earlier period -usually 50-100 years old: Guillaume Blanchard I inherited an antique table from my…

agenda / itinerary / schedule

An agenda is a list or program of things to be done. Workers who are well-organized will often have an agenda for meetings – a list of specific topics to discuss, or things to accomplish during the meeting. If something is “on the agenda” or “on your agenda,” it means that people are willing to…

regard / regards / regardless

Regard (v.) is to consider or to have an opinion about something: Picasso is regarded as one of the greatest artists in history. I don’t regard this as a problem; I regard it as an opportunity. Regards (n.) is a greeting: Please give my regards to your parents when you see them. Some people end…