Archive for July, 2018


July 31, 2018

'I don't want to burst any bubbles, but I'm guessing it's a typo.'

Typical mistakes made by learners of English are marked with an asterisk (*). Correct variants are in bold type.

(*) An ambulance carried her to the hospital — … took her to the hospital (a vehicle TAKES a person somewhere).

(*) Switzerland has very little unemployment and in this case we are very lucky — … in this respect we are very lucky (in this/that case = in these/those circumstances: “What shall I do if there are no trains” “In that case go by bus.” In this/tat respect = with regard to this/that point or detail: “The film is full of violence and in this respect is unsuitable for children”).

(*) “Take an umbrella in case it will rain” — “… in case it rains” (after IN CASE use the present simple tense for future reference, not SHALL/WILL + VERB.

AmE In case you need more information, please contact me.

BrE If you need more information, please contact me.

AmE In case a woman goes out to work, she shouldn’t have to do all the housework.

BrE If a woman goes out to work, she shouldn’t have to do all the housework.

The usage of IN CASE is acceptable in American English but NOT in British English. Note that IF … can be used in both British and American English.

(*) The cause for the accident – The cause of the accident, but: the reason for the accident.

(*) the higher your qualification, the better your chances to find a job — … your chances of finding a job (chance/s of+v+ing)

Commentary to the picture above: 1. In the word “cow” the letter “r” (should be right after “c”) is omitted; 2. “Burst one’s bubble” = to bring someone back to reality, especially if they are dreaming or fantasizing about something unrealistic (“Look, I hate to burst your bubble, but there is no way you’re getting into Harvard! You are a C student!”)


July 31, 2018


The next few posts in the column SYNONYMS AND ANTONYMS will be devoted to the lexical field “Mental Power; Aptitude.”

Here the first group of words: proficient, adept, skilled, skillful, accomplished, expert. All these adjectives mean having or showing knowledge, ability, or skill, as in a profession or area of study.

PROFICIENT implies an advanced degree of competence acquired through training: to be proficient in Greek or Latin. Antonyms: to be ignorant, to be (next to) a zero (in, at).

ADEPT suggests a natural aptitude improved by practice: became adept at cutting a fabric without using a pattern. Antonyms: to be unskilled, untalented, immature (may also be opposed to SKILLED and SKILLFUL)

SKILLED implies sound, thorough competence and often mastery, as in an art, craft, or trade: a skilled gymnast who won an Olympic medal.

SKILLFUL adds to SKILLED the idea of natural dexterity in performance or achievement: is skillful in the use of drum sticks.

ACCOMPLISHED bears with it a sense of refinement after much training and practice: an accomplished violinist who played the sonata flawlessly. Antonyms: bungling, clumsy, inept (an inept actor, inept performance, a bungling workman, he made a bungle of the case due to inexperience)

EXPERT applies to one with consummate skill and command: an expert negotiator who struck a deal between disputing factions. The closest antonym: green (lacking training or experience: green recruits, green in business).


July 30, 2018

The idea of this column is to demonstrate that not only “long and clever” words (sometimes, with the rich Latin and/or French ancestry) are worth analyzing, but the study of the most common words can be no less exciting.

Some of the most frequent words which were covered in earlier posts are: to be, I, to, for, with, good, of, and.

This time, the focus is on the word NOT.


NOT developed from Old English “nawiht” (“na” = no + “with” = creature, thing). The other line of the development of “nawiht” resulted in the existence of the modern English word “naught” = nothing, zero.

While using NOT in speech, be careful about the following:

  1. Put NOT after the first auxiliary verb or modal, if there is one:

Adrina realized that she had not been listening to him.

  1. In conversation, when NOT is used after be, have, do, or a modal, it is not usually pronounced in full. When you write down what someone says, you usually represent NOT as N’T.
  2. When HAVE is the main verb, NOT is sometimes added without an auxiliary DO, but only in the short forms HASN’T, HAVEN’T, and HADN’T:

You haven’t any choice

The sky hadn’t a cloud in it.

However, it is more common to use the forms DOESN’T HAVE, DON’T HAVE, and DIDN’T HAVE.

  1. You can make a negative sentence more polite or less strong by using REALLY after NOT:

It doesn’t really matter.

I don’t really want to be a part of it.

You can reply to some questions by saying NOT REALLY.

You can also make a statement less strong by putting VERY in front of the adjective:

I’m not very interested in the subject

  1. You can use NOT with SURPRISINGLY  and UNEXPECTEDLY to make a negative comment about a statement.

Laura, not surprisingly, disliked discussing the subject.

  1. You can use NOT at the end of a short reply in order to give your opinion. For example, you can say “I hope not,” “Probably not,” “Certainly not” :

“Will it happen again?” – “I hope not.”

“I hope she won’t die.” – “Die? Certainly not!”

  1. Be careful!

With “both…and…” and other correlatives, parallelism requires that each conjunction is followed by a construction of the same grammatical type. Thus, “She not only bought a new car but also a new lawn-mower” displays faulty parallelism. The sentence is wrong and will be assessed as an error in official tests (TOEFL type), whereas the sentence “She bought not only a new car but also a new lawn-mower” is correct, because both NOT ONLY and BUT ALSO are followed by noun phrases.




July 30, 2018

Extracts from the book by Thomas W. Adams and Susan R. Kuder



List of idioms:

be down in the dumps = be depressed

be in seventh heaven = be extremely happy

be on cloud nine = be extremely happy

be on top of the world = feel extremely good

be out of sorts = be in a bad temper

be tickled pink = be very happy

feel blue = be sad

feel like a million bucks = be in a very good mood

look like one has the weight of the world on one’s shoulders = be very tired and worried

look like one lost one’s best friend = look very unfriendly

walk on air = feel happy and excited


1.Put a plus sign (+) if the person mentioned is happy. Put a minus sign (-) if the person is sad.

  • Steve was accepted at all universities he applied. He is on cloud nine.
  • Jan failed her math exam. She is down in the dumps today.
  • Bob’s parents gave him a trip to Europe for a graduation present. He is in seventh heaven.
  • Mary came in first in a ten-mile race. She is on top of the world.
  • Sue does not feel well today. She is out of sorts.
  • John lost his dog the other day. He is feeling blue.
  • Karen likes her new car very much. In fact, she is tickled pink with it.
  • Rich came back from vacation looking great. He says he feels like a million bucks.
  • Sally lost her job and does not know how she is going to pay her bills. She looks like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders.
  • Ken got some bad news in the mail today. He looks like he lost his best friend.
  • Gene found the travelers checks he had lost. He is walking on air.

2.Mark is a very moody person. Some days he is happy and some day he is unhappy. Put H next to the days Mark was happy, and U next t the days he was unhappy.

  • On Sunday, Mark was tickled pink.
  • On Monday, he was feeling blue.
  • The next day, he was walking on air.
  • On Wednesday, he was down in the dumps.
  • On the following day, he was out of sorts.
  • On Friday, he was on top of the world.
  • The day after that, he felt like a million bucks.
  • On Sunday, he looked like he had lost his best friend.
  • The next day, he looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.
  • On Tuesday, he was on cloud nine.
  • On the following day, he was in seventh heaven.

3.Jim is the captain of the Jefferson High School basketball team. Walt is the captain of the basketball team at Washington High School. Last week the two teams played each other, and although it was a close game, Jefferson won. Using all the idioms from this unit, write sentences describing how both Jim and Walt felt after the game. Remember to use the past tense. You’ll probably have to recapitulate some basketball terminology too (like: to shoot a ball, to score, a field goal, a jump shot, to steal a ball from the dribbler, to intercept a pass, to block a shot, etc.)






July 30, 2018

mother in the family


A young woman brings home her fiancée to meet her parents. Before, the marriage was only in the air, now the time has come to get into the nitty-gritty of the matter. When the young couple came, the father was having a kip. At this time of the day, he was usually dead to the world. The father had known about his would-be son-in-law’s visit, but preferred not to jump the gun. He took his time getting out of bed, prepared some coffee to perk himself up, and broached the subject.

“So, young man,” he said, “It’s a regular treat to see you at our place. Is you decision to marry my daughter final?”

“I have no second thoughts about it,” answered the youth.

“Please, do not think that your marriage is as good as in the bag. Do you have a man-size job? At least, something in the offing?”

“I am a Torah scholar,” he relied.

“A Torah scholar. Hmm.” the father said. “Will you buy my daughter a beautiful engagement ring such as she deserves?”

“I will concentrate on my studies, and God will provide for us.”

“Admirable, how are you going to support your wife?”

“I will study,” the young man replied, “and God will provide for us.”

“Now, look here,” the father said, “I don’t want you to feel hard done by while you are answering my straightforward questions, but … please, understand, Emma is my daughter… Both of you will be better off even if you just fetch and carry for everyone in the office. At the moment everything in the garden may be lovely, but the times may change…”

The young man didn’t seem to be uptight at all. “In business,” he said, “you are dependent on your boss, and get it in the neck now and then. I want to be free.”

“And children?” asked the father. “How will you support children?”

“Don’t worry, sir, God will provide,” replied the fiancée.

The conversation proceeded like this, and each time the father questioned, the young idealist insisted that God would provide.

Later, the mother asked her husband, “How did it go, honey?”

The man answered, “He has no job, no plans, but the good news is he thinks I’m God.”


July 20, 2018


Typical mistakes made by learners of English are marked with an asterisk (*). Correct variants are in bold type.

(*)I had to stay in my cabinet all day – I had to stay in my office all day.

(*) I called to the fire brigade – I called the fire brigade.

(*) I can not do it – I cannot (or: can’t) do it.

(*) As you can remember,… — As you may remember,… (MAY is used to express possibility. CAN is used to express ability)

(*) There was nobody capable to repair the machine – There was nobody capable of repairing the machine (able + to-Infinitive BUT capable of + v-ing).

(*) Are you going by taxi or by your own car — … in your own car (go by taxi BUT go in one’s own car).

(*) They took a good care of me — … took good care of me.

(*) If you want to lose weight, you’ll have to take care of what you eat — … you’ll have to be careful of what you eat. NOTE: take care of = look after, be careful about = pay close attention to, especially to avoid doing the wrong thing.

(*) Some criminals don’t care of being caught — … don’t care about being caught (care about doing something, NOT of).

(*) The only thing they cared for was how to make money – The only thing they cared about was how to make money. NOTE: care for (formal) = (1) like: “Would you care for another drink?” (2) take care of: “The child was well cared for” (usually adjectival). Care about = be concerned about.

(*) How wonderful it would be to be young and careless again! – How wonderful it would be to be young and carefree again. NOTE: Careless is negatively colored. The opposite of careless is careful: If you weren’t so careless, you wouldn’t have made so many mistakes. The opposite of carefree is worried.


July 20, 2018


While speaking about synonyms and antonyms in English, it would be worthwhile to mention an interesting phenomenon called “auto-antonymy.” The words belonging to this group are also known as “autantonyms,” “contranyms ,“ “antagonyms,””enantiodromes,” “Janus words,” or “self-antonyms.”  This last term (“self-antonyms”) has been selected for our discussion.

A self-antonym is a word with several meanings, two of which are opposed to each other. Example: If we go back to Shakespeare’s English, the word “to let” meant not only “to allow” but also “to hinder, to forbid” because these meanings had developed from two different words: “lettan” (delay, impede, oppress” and “laetan” (allow, let on lease). By the time Shakespeare was writing his “Hamlet,” the forms of the words coincided, which transformed the resulting word into a self-antonym. Cf:

“ …Still am I called.—Unhand me, gentlemen (draws his sword)

By heaven, I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me.

I say, away!—Go on. I’ll follow thee.

In modern English, this meaning is preserved in the phrase “without let or hindrance” (= without obstruction or impediment): <rats scurried about the house without let or hindrance>

Other languages also have examples of self-antonymy. In Latin “altius” means both “deep” and “high.” Actually, the meaning is “large in vertical dimension.” The German “ausleihen,” like the Ukrainian “позичати,”stands for both “lend and “borrow.”

Here are some modern English self-antonyms:

Appropriate – 1. To give money to, 2. to take something for one’s own use;

Biweekly – 1.  Occurring every two weeks, 2. Occurring twice a week;

To clip – 1. To attach, 2. To cut off;

Downhill – 1. Things are getting worse, 2. Things are getting easier

To draw (curtains) – 1. To open, 2. To close

To dust – 1. To remove dust, 2. To cover with dust;

Fast – 1. Without moving <to hold fast>, <fast asleep>, 2. Moving quickly;

Nonplussed – 1. Baffled, perplexed, 2. Unperturbed (in North America);

To overlook – 1. To miss something, 2. To see something from above;

To sanction – 1. To approve; 2. To penalize;

To screen – 1. To show, 2. To conceal;

A story – 1. An untrue account of events (to tell stories), 2. A factual account of events (a news story);

To strike – 1. To act decisively, 2. To refuse to act;

To table (a bill) – 1. To put (the bill) up for debate – in British English, 2. To remove it from debate – in American English (where British English would have “shelve”);

Transparent – 1. Easy to detect, 2. Invisible.

The above cases are a matter of lexicology. However, in stylistics there is a plethora of examples when a word acquires an opposite meaning as compared to its dictionary status For instance: “Very clever!” — sometimes meaning “foolish.” Or in the dialogue “Would you like to have another cup of coffee?” — “That’s OK,”  which can mean either “yes, please,” or “No, thank you” depending on the situation.

Among the latest self-antonyms, there are also two blends: “coopetition” (= cooperation + competition) and “frenemy” (= friend + enemy)


July 14, 2018

Some of the most frequent words which were covered in earlier posts: to be, I, to, for, with, good, of.

'She said we were definitely having a test, no ifs, ands or buts, and every one of them was on it.'

This time, the focus is on the conjunction and.


1.The conjunction is informally used after the verbs come, go or try to introduce another verb describing the purpose of the action: come and see; try and find it; I’ll try and answer the question; I prefer to wait and see how things go. The pattern is frequent in conversations, but should be avoided in any writing that is not informal: We must try to prevent this happening.

2.The informal usage is observed in the cliché and then some (=with considerably more in addition): This project will take all our skill and then some.

3.The archaic usage: and you please (=if you please).

4.Implying a distinction: there are teachers and teachers.

5.When two nouns in a phrase are regarded as a single item, they always occur In a fixed order: ladies and gentlemen, knife and fork


1.A traditional grammatical rule asserts that sentences beginning with and or but express “incomplete thoughts” and are therefore incorrect. But this rule has been ignored by writers from Shakespeare to Joyce Carol Oates. In the 1988 survey, when asked whether they paid attention to the rule in their own writing, 24 percent answered “always or usually”, 36 percent answered “sometimes,” and 40 percent answered “rarely or never.”

2.And may be used as a noun in the meaning of an addition or stipulation: The offer is final – no ifs, no ands, or buts.

3.Implying a conditional: One move and you are dead!

 4.In negative sentences, you don’t normally use and to link groups of words. For example, you don’t say: *She never reads and listens to stories. You say: She never reads or listens to stories.

5.When you are linking verb phrases that contain the same auxiliary verb, you don’t need to repeat the auxiliary verb: John had already showered and changed. Similarly, the same adjective, preposition, or determiner in front of them, you don’t need to repeat the adjective, preposition, or determiner: My father and father worked hard.


1.With more than two adjectives that do not contrast with each other, and is placed before the last adjective. In this case, the usage of the comma before and is optional: We felt hot, tired (,) and thirsty. When you use two or more complementary adjectives in front of a noun, you don’t usually put and between them: She was wearing a beautiful pink dress; We made rapid technological advance. However, if the adjectives characterize the object equally (i.e. if they aren’t complementary), you must use andI bought a black and white swimming suit, This is a social and educational dilemma.

2.Do not use and to link two contrasting adjectives. For example, don’t say *We were tired and happy. Say: We were tired but happy.


July 12, 2018

Extracts from the book by Thomas W. Adams and Susan R. Kuder


List of Idioms:

be cool toward someone= be unfriendly

get up on the wrong side of the bed = awake in a bad mood

give someone the cold shoulder= treat someone in an unfriendly way

have a bone to pick with someone= have a reason for dispute; have something to complain or argue about

have a sunny disposition= always be pleasant and cheerful

icy stare= very unfriendly look

leave a bad taste in the mouth= leave a bad impression

turn one’s back on someone= turn and look away from someone

turn one’s nose up at someone=act as though someone is not good enough

welcome someone with open arms= greet with words or actions showing that one is glad to see another



  1. Put “yes” if the behavior is friendly and you would like to be treated in this way, and “no” if the behavior is unfriendly and you wouldn’t like to be treated in this way

__ You are spending the day with one of your classmates, John. Usually, he is very pleasant to be with. However, today, nothing anyone does seems to please him. You do not know why he is acting the way he is. You suppose he got up on the wrong side of the bed today.

__ You and your friends, Hank and Mary, are having a cup of coffee together. Hank turns away from you to talk to Mary. He turns his back on you.

__ You are walking down the street and see Mike, a person you work with. You greet Mike pleasantly, but he gives you a cold shoulder, and walks past you without saying hello.

__ You are visiting a new city for the first time. You telephone some people you know who live there. They invite you to dinner and welcome you with open arms.

__ You are at a party and see a classmate. You wave to him across the room, but he turns his nose up at you and doesn’t wave back.

__ Your good friend Sally is introducing her new boyfriend, Frank, to you. You shake hands with him and try to make a conversation, but notice that he is cool toward you and doesn’t seem interested in talking with you

__ You meet your friend Amy, and she looks happy to see you. In fact, she is always glad to see you. She has such a sunny disposition.

__ You are in the school cafeteria, and one of your teachers approaches you and says he has a bone to pick with you. He seems angry and looks as though he wants to talk to you about something you did that he didn’t like.

__ You see someone that you met earlier, Jill. You liked her and thought she liked you, but when you greet her, she gives you an icy stare. You thought she would be happy to see you. You do not know what went wrong.

__ Your friend Bill has been trying to talk you into refusing a particular summer job. When you see your friend Jack, he tells you that Bill told him he wants the job himself. What Jack says, leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

2.  In many U.S. high schools, students in the graduating senior class are recognized by their classmates for certain of their qualities. Someone may be chosen “The Most Likely To Succeed”; another may be chosen “The Best Athlete.”  Still, another may be chosen “The Most Popular.” The candidates for this last category must be friendly. Circle the name in the sentences below if the person might be a good choice for “The Most Popular.” Cross out the name if the person would not.


  1. Susanna frequently has a bone to pick with someone.
  2. Mary even gives her best friends the cool shoulder from time to time.
  3. Jim never gets up on the wrong side of the bed.
  4. Karen always has a sunny disposition.
  5. John is always cool towards his friends.
  6. Margaret’s icy stares could freeze a polar bear.
  7. Mark’s actions sometimes leave a bad taste in his friends’ mouths.
  8. Sandy turns her back on just about everyone.
  9. Barb would never turn her nose up at anyone.
  10. Lesley always welcomes her friends with open arms.


3. Alice is angry at her friend Mary Ann. The next time she sees her, she is going to do something to show Mary Ann that she is not happy with her. Below are some possibilities. Finish the sentence with the appropriate idiom.


  1. Alice could tell Mary that she ___ __ __ __ pick __ her.
  2. Alice could  __ Mary Ann __ cold __.
  3. Alice could __ cool __ Mary Ann.
  4. Alice could give Mary Ann __ icy __.
  5. Alice could __ __ back __ Mary Ann.
  6. Alice could __ __ nose __ at Mary Ann.
  7. Alice could tell Mary Ann that she left __ __ __ __ __ mouth


July 12, 2018

'I want to be buried in the smoking section!'


Two brothers had terrorized a small town since childhood. They were upstage (haughty, aloof) and overpowering. Even when they started saying or doing something quietly, that was only the thin end of the wedge (inconspicuous beginning of something unfavorable) They were not badly off for the plunder taken (were rather rich as regarded…). Of course, nobody liked them. With those guys beside you, everyone was feeling the draught (felt uncomfortable).

One day one of the brothers died.  After hearing the news, the town dwellers were making whoopies (celebrated) all night through. It was ever such a celebration (really big). However, the surviving brother offered the local pastor an enormous sum of money if he would praise the deceased AS A SAINT at his funeral. “You catch me doing that!” (I won’t do that) thought the pastor. “It’s perfectly (absolutely) crazy to stay in the town ruled by bandits.” And he disappeared mysteriously.  “All right, you’ll catch it,” (you’ll get it hot) said the other brother threateningly. He was about to go off the top (to lose his temper)

Still, he was dead set on (determined) arranging a proper funeral for his brother. Two days later, Pastor Peter from a nearby town showed up for the funeral, called by the local church to officiate. He felt terribly uneasy about the function he had to perform. “We understand you,” his church seniors said. “But don’t take on so (don’t be concerned, don’t worry). The devil is not so black…” Naturally, Pastor Peter was cornered by the town thug too. “Just tell everyone what a saint my brother was,” he growled, “and you’ll have more money than you know what to do with. Get it?” (did you understand me?)

I won’t mention other details of their talk, which are niggling (petty, irritating) and less important.

The pastor considered the offer. He was definitely for a high jump (faced with a difficulty).  But neither was he slow on the uptake (he was not stupid).  He only consented and pocketed a wad of bills given to him.

The funeral was packed since few dared to be absent, and the service proceeded in routine fashion until Pastor Peter stood to deliver the eulogy.
“This man,” the pastor said, gesturing toward the casket, “was a bully, a thief and a coward. Helping others was not in his line (it wasn’t his habit). He always remained hard-boiled (unsentimental, callous) and hard-bitten (toughened by experience). His choice was to continue living in sin or to die. And I think that his death was lesser of two evils (was a better choice). But compared to his brother, HE WAS A SAINT!”

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