English Words that are often Confused #4

First, read English Words that are often Confused #1, #2, & #3.

Today, I’m continuing with English Words that are often Confused: words starting with ‘E’. If you would like to receive all my future posts explaining confusing words, just click on ‘Follow’.


Let’s have a look at some confusing words:

a) edible, eatable
     b) effect, affect
c) eminent, imminent
     d) endure, tolerate
e) enormity,  enormous
     f) especially, specially

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


a) edible, eatable

♦ edible – adjective

♦ eatable – adjective

 Avocado are edible and this one will remain eatable for perhaps two more days.

I always thought that avocados were vegetables.  In Australia, they are served in salads, on toast, with seafood, and in dips like guacamole. I was surprised to hear my Brazilian students call them fruit! They eat them as a sweet and in drinks. They concluded that Australians were strange!

We all agree that avocados are edible: they can normally be eaten. (The stone in the centre is not edible. It is inedible.) However, that now decaying avocado you put in the fridge a month ago is not eatable! ‘Eatable’ refers to the condition of food.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


 b) effect, affect

♦ effect   noun

Looking at baby animals, especially baby elephants, usually has a positive effect on people.

Were you impressed with the special effects used in the movie Avatar?

Note: ‘Effect’ can also be used as a verb but take care. While ‘affect means ‘to change’, ‘effect’ means ‘to bring about/cause’ a change. It is usually used in formal speaking and writing. I advise consulting a dictionary if you wish to use ‘effect’ as a verb.

The President hopes to effect new laws to deal with drug trafficking.


♦ affect   verb (used with object: this means that the subject  changes or affects the object something or someone)

In France, the extremely cold winter of 2018-2019 affected many vineyards
Do you believe that your thinking affects your actions?         樂

 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


c) eminent, imminent

eminent – adjective: meaning distinguished, high-ranking, famous

scientists around the globe are working day and night in the search for a vaccine for the Wuhan Coronavirus. 




♦ imminent – adjective: meaning likely to happen soon, impending, threatening

Despite the fact that Mount Etna is an active volcano and eruptions are imminent, many people continue to live on its slopes.

Mt Etna, Sicily

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


d) endure, tolerate

♦ endure – verb: usually indicating suffering or ongoing misfortune, often in silence

During war times, the populace endure extreme hardships, especially food shortages.

♦ tolerate – verb: to put up with, to allow something to continue, with some approval; often used in the negative

I tolerate  a lot of questionable behaviour from my students: forgetting to do homework, arriving late for class, even falling asleep in class. However, I will not tolerate laziness!


♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


e) enormity,  enormous

♦ enormity noun: extreme evil, cruelty on a huge scale; correctly used in reference to war crimes and other crimes against humanity; incorrectly used to describe something very big, like a crowd of thousands at a sports match or music concert

I can’t help wondering if the average Chinese citizen is aware of the enormity of the suffering and destruction that Chaiman Mao forced upon his own people and country.

Despite the rantings of neo-nazis, the world is well aware of the enormity of the suffering caused by Adolf Hitler in WWII.

Many of the recent Australian bushfires were started by arsonists. The enormity of their crime cannot be underestimated.


♦ enormous – adjective: very big in size or number

Coles supermarkets, Australia, recently advertised 5,000 vacancies for casual staff to help cope with demand during the Wuhan Caronavirus situation. They received an enormous number of applications: 35,000!

The pyramids in Egypt are enormous.

New parents are sometimes surprised to discover that they have an enormous capacity for love and patience.

Note: Unfortunately, because enormity is used increasingly (especially in the media) when extremely big is the meaning intended, it is now defined in several modern and online dictionaries as meaning extremely big. I suspect that this has come about because enormous has no acceptable noun. Enormousness is arguably grammatically correct, but sounds wrong, so enormity seems an easy fix. As with the much-misused adjective disinterested, my concern is that if enormity ends up meaning enormous simply because people don’t know the difference, we will lose a concise, meaningful English word. Forever. Every time we lose an irreplaceable word, our language becomes a little poorer.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


 f) especially, specially

♦ especially
– adverb: to an unusual degree, particularly

Bushfires are a natural phenomenon in Australia. However, the recent ones were especially savage because of the accumulation of dry wood and undergrowth which provided an enormous amount of fuel for the fires. Fire prevention measures had been ignored for several years and a bushfire season from hell was imminent. You might deduce that the politicians and bureaucrats who allowed this to happen were especially stupid and you would be right. 

Do you like your new scarf? I knitted it specially for you!

♦ specially
– adverb: for a special purpose 

Do you like your new scarf? I knitted it specially for you!

We know you want to sleep indoors, but the other dogs sleep outside and we can’t change the rules specially for you. 

Yes, of course, you are a very special little dog and this very special scarf which I made specially for you will keep you warm on the coldest nights!


       

Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary | 1 Comment

Conversations with Aussies # 1

I talk with Christopher and Rachel about living at Bondi Beach, Australia.


How long have you lived in Bondi?

Rachel – I’ve lived here for about two years,

Christopher – And I’ve been here for five years, in a few different spots.

And what do you enjoy about living in Bondi?

R – I just feel like the relaxing lifestyle … so, get to go for a swim at the beach after work and we get to enjoy the beach on the weekends.

C – And we also like going out for food and drinks. There’s plenty of places within walking distance for all that.

R – And it’s really nice to be able to look out your window and see some whales and dolphins in the water. We’ve got a pair of binoculars and we get to have a close-up look at these animals in the water.

Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Videos | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How to Give Your Vocabulary a Boost as You Prep for Your IELTS Exam

How to Give Your Vocabulary a Boost as You Prep for Your IELTS Exam
– A Guest Post by  Ofer Tirosh 

The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS, is a standardized test of the English language used to measure the proficiency of non-native speakers. Recognized by employers and universities all over the world, it remains one of the most popular and trusted tests for determining one’s overall ability to communicate in English.

There are four components to the exam – listening, speaking, reading and writing – and each individual will find that the difficulty of each section depends on their own skills and strengths.

While it is often said that the IELTS is difficult, preparing well can make it seem much  less so. This article aims to offer you some fun and practical ideas to help you get ready for the exam. Because not everyone learns the same way, we have provided a variety of approaches to help you boost your vocabulary.

Post-It Blitz

It may look a little funny to visitors and guests, but one of the easiest ways to learn new words is through labeling everything within eyesight.  

Get yourself a pack of post-it notes and cover your entire house from top to bottom with the name of each object. Then, as you learn them, remove the ones you are sure you know and focus on the more difficult ones that you have left. 

Look at Lemmas

Lemmas are units of meaning or root words. Around 75% of daily conversation in English can be understood through the learning of approximately 800 root words. When you learn a new word, try to learn all of its inflections in just one go – e.g. swim, swam, swimming, swum.

Hum a Tune

Your kindergarten teacher was right all along: setting things to music helps you learn. Set tough words to the tune of simple nursery rhymes and hum them to yourself over and again to make them stick in your memory (I can personally attest to this working – I can still reel off which words in German take the dative, thanks to them being set to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by my German teacher nearly 30 years ago!).

If you are a creative type, you can write your own lyrics and music. If not, why not choose your favorite rock and roll song to set the words to? As long as it is something memorable to you it should work very well. 

Flash Cards

Use flashcards with your own language on one side and the English translation on the other. Set yourself a target of 10 words per day (in addition to your other learning methods) then test yourself regularly throughout the day.

You can also customize your flashcards by cutting colorful pictures out of magazines and sticking them to one side. Some people find this visual approach makes learning easier.  Experiment with various methods to see what works best for you.

Record Yourself

Reel off a list of words you need to learn while videoing it on your phone, then play the video back whenever you’re doing a task like washing up where your hands are busy, but your brain isn’t fully occupied.

Download an App

If you find learning with apps to be helpful, the British Council has developed an IELTS practice app that may be useful to you. It contains free exercises, practice tests, quizzes, grammar tips, sample questions, and more to help you succeed.

Watch Films and Listen to Music

Why not immerse yourself in English films?  This can be especially helpful if you turn on closed-captioning. That way you are hearing and seeing the words all at once. Make a pact with yourself that you will only watch English films or listen to English music until you have passed your exam.

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Many social media language groups and pages can be helpful. Finding a couple of online buddies for whom English is their first language can be an invaluable experience. Synergy happens during real conversation and connection and making friends with someone who you can converse with about ordinary topics is sure to improve your vocabulary.

Take Advantage of YouTube

There are many Youtube channels devoted to learning English. One channel in particular – Learn English With Mr. Duncan – is not only helpful, it is entertaining as well. The best part is that Mr. Duncan provides these vocabulary lessons free of charge.

There are so many more ways to prepare yourself for the IELTS exam than just studying pages in a book. This article should have provided you with some inspiration to get you started. As you put some of these methods into practice, you will probably come up with even more ways to improve your vocabulary as you go about your everyday life.

Remember that positive experiences tend to stick in the memory better than negative ones, so try to make learning as relaxed, fun and stress-free as possible. By following these tips, you will be well on your way to passing the IELTS exam with flying colors!

Ofer Tirosh is CEO of Tomedes, a translation agency providing language and interpretation services. Tomedes has been supporting clients around the world with their translation needs for more than a decade.


Posted in IELTS | 1 Comment

A Song with First Conditional, Imperatives, and Collocations

Image result for dua lipa don't start now album cover

Dua Lipa – Don’t Start Now

Dua Lipa sings a song, Don’t Start Now, in which she tells an ex boyfriend very clearly that their relationship is finished and she is not interested in seeing him again. Her life is so much better without him. Her message to him is clear: If you don’t want to see me with another man, don’t look!

Click on the above picture for the official YouTube video. For the YouTube video with lyrics, click here.

Sentences starting with ‘If” are usually conditional sentences, and Dua Lipa is telling her ex what not to do in the future if he doesn’t want to see her with another man. Because she is referring to possible future situations, the sentence structure is First Conditional. Because she is warning him about possible future actions, she uses Imperatives:

Walk away!

Don’t show up;

Don’t come out;

Don’t start caring about me now.

Walk away;

› › › › › › › › ›

You may have studied First Conditional with WILL + Base Infinitive. If you would like to revise the rules for First Conditional with WILL, click here. Today, however,  I’m focusing on First Conditional with Imperative Verbs.


♥ The chorus is one long First Conditional sentence:

If you don’t *wanna see me dancing with somebody;            *want to
If you *wanna believe that anything could stop me,
Don’t show up;
Don’t come out;
Don’t start caring about me now;
Walk away; you know how;
Don’t start caring about me now.

Conditional Sentences are Complex Sentences, which means that they include at least one Dependent Clause (blue print) and at least one Independent Clause (green print). The chorus includes two Dependent Clauses and five Independent Clauses.


                                            ♥ Note the Imperative Verbs



Don’t show up

 Don’t come out

 Don’t start

 Walk away


♥ The song provides numerous Collocations, here in bold:

Did a full one-eighty …
But look at where I ended up.
I’m all good already;

So moved on, it’s scary.
I’m not where you left me at all,
Don’t show up;
Don’t come out;
I’m better on the other side.
Walk away.

Can you work out the meanings of the above collocations? Look at what you can understand. She is telling someone: ‘Don’t … Don’t … Don’t … Don’t … I’m all good … I’m better …”   When Collocations are idioms, you can often work out the meaning if you know the context.     

Did a full one-eighty … 

To do a one-eighty (180°) is to change your thinking and/or actions completely: to think or do the opposite. The singer thinks about the way she was before and the way she is now – from heartbroken (maybe) to ‘all good’.

But look at where I ended up.

To end up is to eventually finish, to end a situation. The singer was possibly heartbroken but at the end, she was ‘all good’. For more examples of ended up, click here.


I’m all good!   I’ve moved on!

I’m all good already

She is not just ‘good’; she is great, completely okay. Don’t worry! (‘Already’ means ‘sooner than expected’.)

 ♦ So moved on

To move on from a relationship means to accept that the relationship is over, finished, and to be ready for a new relationship, a new life.

So … , it’s scary.

So + adjective/adverb, it’s scary, means that something (or someone) is so bad / wonderful / clever etc. that it is hard to believe. The singer has moved on and recovered so quickly and easily from the relationship that it is impressive and hard to believe – it’s scary.

I’m not where you left me at all

Literally, where you left me, means the last place you saw me. However, here it means that she is not the sad, rejected person he said ‘goodbye’ to. She has moved on.


     ♦ Don’t show up

To show up means to arrive. For example, All the employees were expected at the Christmas party but fewer than half showed up.

      ♦ Don’t come out

Meaning: Don’t leave your house. Stay at home. If you don’t want to see me with another man, don’t leave your house!

 the other side

I’m better on the other side. Her life is better now after the end of the relationship. The experience has been like a journey and she has come through to the other side. She is no longer in the journey or experience. She is at a distance from it: the other side.

Walk away.

To walk away from someone or something means to leave or abandon the person or situation. She tells him to walk away, leave her. She reminds him that he knows how to walk away because he had abandoned her more than once. 

For more examples of walk away, click here.

Click here for a free idioms and phrases dictionary. 

      

Posted in Grammar, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs, Upper Intermediate (Level 5) | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

English Idioms in Pictures #9

Click on the picture below to find out the meaning of the idiom PULL YOUR SOCKS UP.

Once on the site, you can click on Follow at the bottom of the page to receive more pictures and explanations of idioms FREE.


Iddy pulls his socks up

             

Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Reading, Upper Intermediate (Level 5) | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Christmas 2019

  Happy Christmas!  

It’s that time of year again when many of us prepare to celebrate Christmas. Traditionally, for Christians, it is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ approximately 2,000 years ago. However, Christmas has become an important time for celebrating with family and friends for both Christians and non-Christians. Let’s have a look at some of the ways we observe Christmas:

Figurines: The Infant Jesus with Mary, Joseph, and an Angel

  For over 2,000 years, Christians have celebrated the arrival on earth of a very remarkable person: Jesus of Nazareth.  We know a lot about Jesus because of  widespread writings, not just from his followers, but also from well-known scribes of the time. Jesus was a historically real person. His teachings of love, compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance appealed to all kinds of people as well as his message of hope for a new life after we pass on from this one. He practised what he preached, being kind and non-judgmental. You could say that he was, and is, the perfect role model.

Christians attend Church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. They listen to readings about the special night when Jesus was born, pray together and sing Christmas Hymns. (My favourite is O! Holy Night.’) It’s a very happy occasion!  

 Giving presents, decorating Christmas trees and homes is also traditional for many. Children in particular love all this Christmas activity and get very excited at the thought of a visit from Santa.

Photo by Ann Danilina on Unsplash.com

Presents are opened on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day or at a party beforehand. Many workplaces have parties and some, like mine, organize a ‘Secret Santa’. We pick the name of a colleague out of a hat and buy a gift for that person. No-one knows who has provided their present. It’s lots of fun! Not everyone is a Christian but that doesn’t matter. It’s the ‘Spirit of Christmas’ that is important: a feeling of goodwill towards everyone.

  In Australia, as in many western and European countries, this is an occasion for being with family, especially family whom we don’t see regularly. We get together and tend to eat and drink too much! It’s a busy time, when we acknowledge the importance of family.

Cristo Redentor, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

⛪If you would like to join in the Christmas festivities and you don’t have a family or friends to celebrate Christmas with, I strongly recommend that you contact a Christian church nearby; for example, The Catholic Church, The Anglican Church, The Pentecostal Church, The Presbyterian Church, The Methodist Church, or The Salvation Army. They welcome everyone,  provide a lovely Christmas dinner and a jolly experience and expect nothing from you. You don’t need to be a Christian. You don’t have to attend a church service and you just might make some friends! Alternatively, church services can be viewed online. Just open You Tube and search: ‘Christmas Mass’. It is streamed live on Christmas Day and on Christmas Eve.

Pavlova – a traditional Australian dessert

 Australian Christmas is different to Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere where it is cold in December. Here, it is summer and while some households still enjoy roast turkey, hot vegetables, and hot Christmas pudding, many of us prefer cold meat, seafood and salads and cold or fruit-based desserts. Pavlova, cheesecake, and ice cream pudding are favourites.

Because it is very hot here, barbecues are very popular which means that cooking indoors is unnecessary. After lunch, the beach is popular for those fortunate enough to live near one or holiday at one. Summer in Australia is holiday season, especially for school children and their families, and Christmas lunch or dinner is often casual: delicious and special, but simple. The beach is calling! 


                                                              The beach is calling!                                                                                                    Many thanks to Britt Gaiser from unsplash.com for this photo.

If you would like to listen to some delightful Christmas Carols sung by Michael Bublé, click here. To hear a magnificent version I’ve recently discovered of a traditional Hymn , click here.

  

I hope you have a

Very Merry Christmas & a

Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2020!!

      

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Elementary (Level 2), Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs, Upper Intermediate (Level 5) | 1 Comment

How to Write a Sentence: #2

First, read How to Write a Sentence: #1

There are three types of sentences in English: SIMPLE, COMPOUND, & COMPLEX.

All sentences must contain a subject, a verb with tense, and they must have meaning.

You need to know which type of sentences you are writing, so that you can apply the appropriate rules. So, here we go …

SIMPLE SENTENCES Simple Sentences have one subject and one main (complete) verb,

You are reading  this blog.   

Who is hugging that girl? 

OR   two subjects and one main verb,

The girl and the paper man love each other.

OR   one subject and two main verbs,

She is hugging him and smiling. (Verbs: is hugging & is smiling)

OR two subjects and two main verbs.

The paper man and the girl are hugging each other and smiling.

Look at the following sentence. It is a Simple Sentence because it has one subject and one verb. 

The beautiful tropical gardens across the road from my old school were destroyed in the earthquake last month.  

The sentence has a lot of ‘extra stuff’, but when you take out this ‘extra stuff’, what is left?

The gardens were destroyed.

** Don’t be confused by long sentences with lots of adjectives, adverbs and prepositions. To understand the structure of a sentence, you need to find the verb first. Then, find the subject.

COMPOUND SENTENCES  Compound Sentences are formed when two or more Simple Sentences are joined (linked).

The gardens were destroyed and many houses were damaged.

The gardens were destroyed but my old school was not damaged.

The old school was not damaged so we are all relieved.

A Compound Sentence is composed of two or more sentences (independent clauses) which are joined by Co-ordinating Conjunctions. For a complete explanation of how Co-ordinating Conjunctions are used to make Compound Sentences, click here.

Click here for How to Write a Sentence: #3: COMPLEX SENTENCES

Click here for How to Write a Sentence: #1


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Posted in Grammar, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), TOEFL, TOEIC, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Leave a comment

Song with Present Tenses for Opinions and Beliefs

We can use Present Simple Tense to talk about how we feel, what we believe in, and what we think about how we live in the 21st century.

We use Present Continuous Tense to explain or describe what is happening now or at this time in our lives.

The song Freedom (Fight For It) by rock singer Joy Villa, and rapper Flint Bedrock, is about what they think about free speech, freedom of religion and freedom of political beliefs. 

According to Joy Villa “Freedom is worth fighting for. No matter the cost, if we aren’t all free, none are free.”

Joy Villa was recently interviewed by Rita Panahi on Sky News Australia. Rita agreed that “Critical thinking is essential; don’t form an opinion based on herd mentality. Think for yourself.” https://joyvilla.com/

Click here for the Youtube video of the song. I have included the lyrics below with grammar corrections in brackets. Songwriters are not expected to be grammarians, but as this is an English website, I feel that I must provide corrections. Nonetheless, the lyrics convey very clear meanings. What do you think?

∗ By the way, I could not find the lyrics to this song on any of the usual platforms I check for song lyrics. I wonder why? I eventually found them on Joy Villa’s site.

Present Simple Tense: Pink
Present Continuous Tense: Bright Blue

Song: Freedom (Fight For It)

By Joy Villa and Flint Bedrock 

So many people try to stop me stop me from speaking. 
So many people (are) trying to keep me  from thinking, 
But I’m awake and I’m tired; I’m tired of sleeping. 

(There is)
No going back, no going back,
Mental prison, 
Slavery of the mind, 
Education (is)
Keeping us in line. 

Controls our youth, 
stolen culture,
broken truth. 

Do you really want to live free? 
Do you really want to be free? 
Then you ∗gotta fight for it.        ∗ (have to)           You ∗better  fight for it.                ∗ (need to)

Technology (is) in place of conversation. 
The system that we’ve got won’t solve the situation.
My thoughts ∗ain’t got nothing to do with my  persuasion.                                              ∗ (have nothing)

It’s more than just a “race relation”. 

Choose life. 
Freedom’s what you find.
Break chains.
Free thoughts (are) not a crime.

controls our youth, 
stolen culture, 
broken truth. 

Chorus x 2

When fake news
Is like a game of thrones;
We need Alex Jones.
Conspiracy activities (are) exposing the toxicities.
Who’s the truth?
You decide.

Chorus x 2



Posted in Grammar, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

English Words that are often Confused #3

First, read English Words that are often Confused #1 & #2.

Today, I’m continuing with English Words that are often Confused: words starting with ‘D’. Take note of prepositions (about, to, on, etc.) which often collate with the confusing words. Using the correct preposition is as important as using the correct word.


This baby is totally dependent on his parents.

Let’s have a look at some confusing words:

a) defective, deficient           

b) deny, refute

c) dependant, dependent         

d) desert, dessert  

e) disinterested, uninterested         

f) drank, drunk


♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


a) defective, deficient 

♦ defective   adjective: used to indicate a defect,  flaw or damage

Your watch is defective. You should take it back to the shop and get a refund.


♦ deficient – adjective: used to indicate a shortage or lack, especially of something which is important or necessary

Unfortunately, many students exist on a nutritionally deficient diet.

In many countries, people can obtain a driving licence despite being deficient in common sense and knowledge of road laws.


♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


b) deny, refute


They denied that they were vampires.

♦ deny – verb: to state that something is untrue

Ambrogio and Selene denied that they were vampires.


♦ refute – verb: to prove that a statement is false

They were able to refute the charge of murder as they had been performing at the annual policemen’s ball at the time of the alleged vampire attack.


♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


c) *dependant, dependent   

♦ dependant – noun: a person, usually a child, who depends on or needs someone for support or financial aid.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have four dependants, aged from six months to six years.

♦ dependent
– adjective: needing someone or something for support

    Many adult children are still financially dependent on their parents.

      Baby mammals are dependent on their mothers, often for years.


Note: To help you remember: the word ‘ant‘, which is in dependant, is also a noun.

* Dependant is British English spelling for the noun only. American English uses dependent for both the noun and adjective.


♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


d) desert, dessert

♦ desert – noun: an area in which very little vegetation, if any, can grow because of lack of rainfall.  

The original meaning of the word desert is an abandoned or desolate area.

The Sahara Desert covers an area of about 3.5 million square miles.


♦ dessert – noun: a sweet pie, icecream, cake, fruit salad etc. served at the end of a  meal. 

‘My favourite dessert is Pavlova with
passionfruit. Yours?’

‘I love icecream with chocolate sauce, icecream with fruit, icecream with cake; in fact, I love any dessert which has icecream!’ 


Note: My way of remembering which word has two ‘s’ might be helpful for you: at school, I had a friend, Andrea, who always wanted two scoops of icecream for dessert!


♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


e) disinterested, uninterested 

♦ disinterested – adjective: impartial, unbiased
To describe a person as disinterested is to provide a great deal of information about that person. It means that he or she is not simply unbiased, but also is not motivated or influenced by selfish interests or personal gain. 

It is a growing concern that so many court judges hold strong political views which may affect their sentencing. All judges should be disinterested in every case in their courtroom.


♦ uninterested – adjective: not interested

My husband enjoys watching football, cricket, and golf on television, and would love me to join him but I am totally uninterested.

Note: It is not surprising that disinterested is often confused with  uninterested when the media, as well as some modern dictionaries, increasingly use them both to mean not interested. Languages change and evolve, and English is no different. However, my concern is that if disinterested ends up meaning not interested simply because people don’t know the difference, we will lose a concise, meaningful English word. Forever. 


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f) drank, drunk

We drank a toast to our future together.

♦ drank: verb – past tense of the verb ‘to drink’

We drank a toast to our future together.


♦ drunk: verb – past participle of the verb ‘to drink’ – used with auxiliary verbs havehas, and had

Have you ever drunk Cava? It’s a luscious sparkling wine made in Spain.

Who has drunk too much on New Year’s Eve? Not me. Never!

When I arrived at the office Christmas party, I was dismayed to learn that the new employees had drunk all the champagne!


♦ drunk: adjective 

We drank a lot of champagne at our wedding but we didn’t get drunk. No-one wants to see a drunk bride!

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary | Leave a comment

How to Write a Sentence: #1

 What is a sentence?

There are three necessary parts to a sentence: SUBJECT (noun or pronoun) & VERB (finite) & the sentence must also have MEANING.

SUBJECT: There are several ways to make a subject, but for now, let’s look at the following:

♦ A subject can be one word; eg, sharks.    Sharks kill. (Yes, this is a sentence. It has a subject, a finite verb, and meaning.)

♦ A subject can be a phrase; eg, Sharks in Australia kill.

♦ A subject can be a noun clause; eg, Whatever sharks do scares people.

The third sentence above has an object  ‘people’. The verb ‘to scare’ must have an object. You need to know which verbs must have a direct object (transitive verbs), which verbs must not have a direct object (intransitive verbs), and which verbs have different rules. This sentence needs the object or the meaning is not clear.

♦ A subject can be a pronoun; eg, They are terrifying. They look dangerous.

The verbs in the two above sentences are followed by complements, not objects, because they are link (copular) verbs. Also, ‘terrifying’ and ‘dangerous’ can’t be objects because they are adjectives in these sentences.

Adrian's great white shark

This shark looks dangerous. It is terrifying! http://www.whalewatchsa.com-800 × 534-

VERB: Every sentence must have a verb with tense (tense = time: present, past, future). English verbs have very few forms. (forms = different spellings)

+ Present Simple Tense  positive – Sharks kill. It kills.
Present Simple Tense negative – Sharks don’t kill whales. A shark does not kill jellyfish.
Present Simple Tense question – Do sharks kill dolphins? Does that shark kill people?

+ Past Simple Tense positive – A shark killed the tourist.
Past Simple Tense negative – The shark did not kill the tourist’s friend.
Past Simple Tense question – Did the shark kill the lifesaver?

As you can see, in the positive sentences just three words: ‘kill’, ‘kills’, and ‘killed’, are complete (finite) verbs. They don’t need any help to show the tense (present or past). However, when you write a negative sentence or a question, you need a ‘helper’ (auxiliary) verb to show the tense: ‘do’ or ‘does’ for Present Simple Tense; ‘did’ for Past Simple Tense.

This is the rule for ALL VERBS in English (except the verb ‘to be’). You cannot write:

Sharks not kill whales.

A shark not kill jellyfish.

The shark not killed the tourist’s friend.

The shark kill the lifesaver?   

The auxiliary verb ‘helps’ with the ‘tense’ and the ‘person’.  

♦ ‘Dois used with I, you, we, and they in Present Simple Tense, while

♦ ‘does’ is used with he, she, and it.

♦ ‘Did’ is used with I, you, we, they, he she, and it (all persons) in Past Simple Tense.

All other tenses must use auxiliaries + participles (or base infinitives) to form a complete verb. For example, the following ‘sentence’ has no tense because ‘studying’ (continuous participle)has no tense. So it is not a sentence.

The students studying a lot of grammar.

We don’t know if the students ARE studying, WERE studying, HAVE BEEN studying, or  WILL BE studying, etc. We need the auxiliary verbs to help us, to tell us ‘when‘.




For example:

    ♦ The students have been studying a lot of grammar.

    ♦ The students were studying a lot of grammar.

    ♦ The students will be studying a lot of grammar.

The same combination of auxiliary + (base infinitive) + participle(s) is used for positive sentences (above), negative sentences, and questions (below): 

    ♦ The students have  not been studying a lot of grammar.

    ♦ Have the students been studying a lot of grammar?

    ♦ The students were not studying a lot of grammar.

    ♦ Were the students studying a lot of grammar?

    ♦ The students will not be studying a lot of grammar.

    ♦ Will the students be studying a lot of grammar?

AUXILIARY VERBS follow a very logical pattern:

Continuous (Base verb + ING) TO BE
Perfect TO HAVE
Future WILL 
Continuous & Future TO BE WILL 
Continuous & Perfect TO BE TO HAVE
Perfect & Future TO HAVE WILL 
Continuous & Perfect & Future TO BE TO HAVE WILL 

For a visual guide to all the forms of the 12 tenses, check out my book Understanding English Verbs available from Amazon.

Book cover - Fat Cows

There are three types of sentences in English: SIMPLE, COMPOUND, & COMPLEX.

You need to know which type of sentences you are writing, so that you can apply the appropriate rules.

I will explain these rules in my next post How to Write a Sentence: #2. If you would like to receive an  email when I write more posts, just fill out the Subscription Form below.

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Posted in Grammar, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), TOEFL, TOEIC, Writing | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments