Standard Expressions and Confusing Words English grammar
There are certain typical combinations of words in English. For example, we say ‘Please give a warm welcome to Ms. James, our next speaker. We don’t say ‘a warm hello’ or ‘a hot welcome’!! English grammar
There are different ways of organizing the expressions you encounter in order to help you in the learning process. English grammar
One way is to find all the different words that can be combined with common verbs, such as ‘make or ‘do’:
- Make a reservation, progress, up one’s mind, a mistake, a speech, a phone call, a deal, a good impression, a request, a complaint, a profit, money… English grammar
- Do one’s best, one’s duty, as I say, not as I do, business, homework, a good job, a favor, the accounts, an experiment, harm…
Other verbs don’t have as many expressions: English grammar
- Run: a business, a machine, like clockwork English grammar
Other expressions include prepositions – you can organize them like this:
- On behalf of, on account of, on the whole, on average
- In general, in regard to, in connection with, in accordance with English grammar
Sometimes there are 2 nouns put together for a specific meaning (collocations) which you can organize as follows: English grammar
- Product launch, product placement, product life-cycle
- Market share, the market leader, market segment, a housing market
You can also try organizing by theme:
- Human Resources: pay rise, layoff, background check, cost of living, cover letter, be shortlisted
- Finance: cash flow, go bankrupt, remain stable, steady increase, tax evasion, cash withdrawal English grammar
There are many, many idiomatic expressions which every language contains. These expressions are used to get an idea across often using colorful or amusing language. Some may be similar to the ones in your language.
- ‘As red as blood’, ‘green with envy’, ‘as busy as a bee’ English grammar
- ‘to be under the weather’ means someone isn’t feeling well English grammar
- ‘it’s a piece of cake’ means something is easy
- ‘An early bird gets the worm’ means you are likely to be more efficient and to work more if you wake up early in the morning
You can organize them like this:
‘Caught red-handed’ (caught with proof of doing something illegal) English grammar
‘Give a hand’ (help someone) ‘Out of hand’ (out of control)
‘Once in a blue moon’ (not very frequently) ‘Out of the blue’ (unexpectedly)
Be careful, just because some expressions look similar, they don’t necessarily mean the same thing: English grammar
- ‘get straight to the point’ (speak directly about a subject)
- ‘get your point across’ (make yourself understood)
Confusing Words English grammar
During the exam, you will need to demonstrate that you are familiar with the nuances found amongst words which have similar meanings, spellings or sounds. These words cannot be interchanged. The following is a list of pairs or groups of words which are commonly confused. You have to be careful to choose the right one in the context of the given sentence.
Raise – is a regular verb & takes a complement Rise – is irregular (rose, risen), no complement
- They raised the flag.
- The sun rises in the east.
Earn – about salary win – about games gain – with other expressions
- She earns a lot in bonuses.
- They always win at poker.
- He’s gained a lot of weight/time…
Cash – bills or coins Change – what’s left after paying Currency – the money of a country
- She took cash from the machine.
- Here’s your change.
- The Euro is a new currency.
Accept – take something that’s offered Except – not including – Expect – to anticipate
- She didn’t accept their offer.
- I’ll take everything except the keyboard.
- We are expected to succeed or leave.
Affect – to have an influence on Effect – an event or situation produced by a cause
- The loss of her job greatly affected her.
- The policy change had little effect.
Fee – the amount paid generally for a service Fare – money paid for traveling
- The doctor’s fees were very high.
- The bus fare will increase next year.
Say – we say something (to someone) Tell – we tell someone something
- He said he was going to be late.
- He told his wife that he was going to be late.
Insure – to buy insurance Assure – to make certain Ensure – to make safe or sure English grammar
- She insured her new car.
- I assure you that it will arrive tomorrow.
- We ensure passenger safety.
Their – possessive adjective pronoun There – used with to be They’re – contraction of the are
- Their car was stolen.
- There isn’t anyone in this room. English grammar
- They’re all going home.
To found – to establish To find (found-found) – to discover English grammar
- The company was founded in the 1960s.
- He found a solution to the problem.
To request, to require, to demand
- I request your presence to make sure everything goes well.
- Everyday, workers are required to clock in and out.
- Punctuality is demanded by the director. English grammar
To attend – be present/participle and to assist – to help
- The employees attended the seminar with pleasure.
- The secretary assisted her boss in improving the powerpoint.
Sight – monument, Cite (quote), Site (location with a precise purpose), Sighting (observation)
- We look forward to visiting the famous sights.
- I cite Gandhi whenever I can.
- The factory is on which site, the one in Paris or Lyon?
- We love doing star sighting when it’s dark and clear.
Wage – paid by the hour or week and Salary/income by the month
- As a waitress, my job’s wage is of $8 an hour.
- The salary of a marketing director is quite high.
Suitable – appropriate, Eligible – qualified, Worthy- valuable, Allowed – authorized (law)
- Wearing a suitable outfit is the least you can do when you start a new job.
- This training is eligible for certified certificates.
- All our clients are worthy of respect.
- Smoking is not allowed on the premises.
Other confusing words include ‘false cognates’ (faux amis or deceptive words) whereby a word may resemble a word in another language, but may not necessarily be correct in English.
We say: English grammar
- ‘to attend a meeting or a conference’ – ‘assist’ means to help
- ‘to postpone a meeting’- ‘report’ is used in ‘I report directly to the marketing director.’
- ‘The company increased their turnover/profits.’ – ‘benefits’ means something extra a company pays their employees (health insurance, for example).
- ‘Is he actually the head of the department?’ – here ‘actually’ means ‘really’
- ‘He is currently/presently acting as department head. – here ‘currently’ or ‘presently’ means ‘now’
- ‘It’s a very sensitive topic for her, so don’t mention it.’ – ‘sensitive’ means something upsets you easily
- ‘She’s made a sensible decision.’ – ‘sensible’ means showing good judgment.
- ‘In Egypt, they’ve discovered ancient tombs’ – ‘ancient’ means extremely old, antique which is different from ‘old’ the opposite of ‘new’ and from ‘senior’ who has been working at this job or for this company for many years. English grammar