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Monday, August 15, 2016

Lie vs lay – Understanding the problem

                Selecting what is correct between lie and lay is a challenge even for experienced writers. These irregular verbs are difficult to understand if we don’t know their respective definitions. Second, even if we speak them, there is a tiny bit of difference on their pronunciations so it is highly likely to interchange them.
Since we do not know how to use them properly, the tendency is that we become used to hearing ‘lie’ and ‘lay’ in their incorrect forms. As such, even when we proofread our write-ups, we tend to disregard the mistakes because they sound right even if not. In this grammar lesson, we are going to discuss how ‘lie’ and ‘lay’ should be used in a sentence.
Understanding ‘lie’
                ‘Lie’ is a verb that means ‘to recline or rest.’ It functions as an intransitive verb, which means that it can be used in a sentence even if not followed by a direct object. For example: “The bed of Ronald often smells like cat because Sparky, his Siamese, lies there every night.” As we can see, there is no direct object following the word ‘lie,’ and if we are going to ask what is Sparky doing in the bed, we can answer Sparky is ‘resting.’
                Here are other examples: “After hours of playing in the mud, my dog Benny gets tired, lies on the floor and takes a nap.” “The bill for dinner lies on the table so you can check the amount.” “If you are already sleepy, you can lie down on the bed first.”
Understanding ‘lay’
                ‘Lay’ is also a verb and it means ‘to put or place someone or something down.’ Unlike ‘lie,’ which is an intransitive verb, ‘lay’ is a transitive verb. This means that it needs a direct object when used in a sentence. The direct object will function as the primary receiver of action.
                Here are some examples: “The bird lays eggs on the nest.” “Before watching his favorite TV series, John laid his sleepy son on the bed (take note that laid is the past tense of lay).” “The house maid lays the carpet on the floor.”
Simple tip to remember
The difference between the two is that ‘lie’ sounds like ‘recline’ which is its meaning. On the other hand, ‘lay’ sounds like ‘place’ which also means ‘to place something or someone down.’

Sometimes, the misuse of the words take place in its past tense form. The past tense of ‘lie’ is also ‘lay,’ while the past tense of ‘lay’ is ‘laid.’ So that we will not confuse the two past forms, we must remember that ‘laid’ is used when there is a direct object. In other words, ‘laiD’ has a ‘D’ which stands for ‘direct object.’ 

When to Use Compliment and Complement

‘Compliment’ and ‘complement’ are just one letter apart. These words sound the same, and if we are not careful, we can exchange one for the meaning of the other. ‘Complement’ and ‘compliment’ are homophones, which, despite sounding the same, have different usages in a sentence.
Unlike the words ‘their’ and ‘they’re,’ which can be easily recognized by the contraction and spelling, what makes the problem more complex in ‘compliment’ and ‘complement’ is the fact that they are only distinguished by a vowel in the middle – that is, the ‘e’ and ‘i.’ Let us now take a look at these words’ meaning and how they are used in a sentence.
Understanding the meaning of and using ‘compliment’ in a sentence
                ‘Compliment’ can act as a verb and a noun. When we use it as a noun, it means a ‘praising or flattering remark.’ For example: “Thank you for giving my friend Danny a nice compliment.” “The remarks you gave during the speech are the best compliment we have heard!” “Apple gave a great compliment to Microsoft for their innovation on the new iPad Mini.”
                When used as a verb, the main function of ‘compliment’ is ‘to give esteem or praise to something.’ Here are some examples: “He tried to compliment your outfit, but you were too busy talking on the phone.” “I felt so proud that Sarah complimented on my grades for the final exam.” “Coach Mike is often complimented by club officials for his leadership skills.”
Understanding the meaning of and using ‘complement’ in a sentence
                ‘Complement’ can also act as a noun and a verb. When used as a noun, it means ‘completeness’ or ‘perfection.’ For example: “Dressing is the usual complement of vegetable salad.” “Your sneakers is a perfect complement of your jeans and shirt.” “Interior designers want a good combination of colors, textures and patterns that complement each other.”
                As a verb, ‘complement’ means ‘to supplement or to complete adequately.’ Here are some examples: “You need to complement the meat with marinade sauce to bring out its natural flavors.” “You can complement that blouse with a matching blazer.” “The purpose of the new services is expected to complement the functions of existing facilities.”
Understanding ‘complimentary’ vs ‘complementary’
                The use of these adjectives also cause confusion so it is necessary to understand them as well. ‘Complimentary’ has two definitions: ‘expressing praise or admiration’ and ‘supplying or giving free of charge.’ For instance: “I am so overwhelmed by the complimentary remarks I received from the participants.” “The company offers complimentary bus services to employees living downtown.”

                ‘Complementary’ on the other hand means ‘a combination or blend of things that emphasizes or enhances their good qualities.’ For example: “John and Kevin have different personalities, but have complementary skills.” “Architecture and interior design are considered complementary professions.”

Know the difference between apologize and apologise

English is a language that is widely spoken in many countries. But because of geographical boundaries and cultural differences, the language has been divided into two variations – the British and the American English. These languages contain words that have the same meaning but are spelled differently. Sometimes, however, the way the words are spelled causes confusion to both the writers and the readers.
For students, it can be difficult to memorize all the words that have the same meaning, let alone which words and their variants are appropriate to either versions of English. The words ‘apologize’ and ‘apologise’ are spelled differently but come from the same word and have the same meaning. One, however, is for American usage while the other is for British usage.
When do we use ‘apologize?’
                ‘Apologize’ is an action word that means ‘to express remorse or regret over something’ or ‘to admit one’s fault.’ For example “Honey, you should apologize to your brother now.” “To apologize is to admit your fault, but that doesn’t make you a weak person.” “The coach apologized to the team captain for not being present during the final games.”
When do we use ‘apologise?’
                Basically, this has the same meaning as ‘apologize.’ But we have to take care of its usage since it is commonly used by Englishmen. Here are some examples: “The newly elected British Prime Minister apologised to the panel for being late by half an hour.” “You need to apologise to the British Foreign Secretary for making offensive comments to the guests.” In these examples, we can see that the context is exclusive to the British people so we used ‘apologise’ instead of ‘apologize.’
When did this confusion begin?
                According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘apologize’ had also been used in British English in the past. It is the older form of the verb and has been widely accepted during the 1800s. Thus, the word ‘apologize’ is the standard word used both in British and American periodicals, textbooks, documents and other literary sources. However, it was overtaken by ‘apologise’ in 1990s and became the widely accepted replacement of ‘apologize’ for the Brits.
Tips and tricks:

                If you are still having confusion about their correct usage, it is important to make a mnemonic for easier understanding. This will help you choose the appropriate word for your target readers. Again, ‘apologize’ is the American version of the verb. It contains a ‘Z’ just like in the word ‘Arizona,’ a state in the US. Both Arizona and apologize have ‘z’ so it is easy to remember that it is widely accepted in American English. On the other hand, ‘apologise’ and ‘British’ both contain an ‘S,’ which means this verb is commonly accepted in British English.

When to use Practice and Practise

Why is there a confusion?
                In many English speaking countries like the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, ‘practice’ commonly functions as the noun, while ‘practise’ is the action word. What is confusing is that in the US, the word ‘practise’ is not often used.  Whenever Americans use ‘practice’ in a sentence, they are pertaining to both the noun and the verb.
If we are following the American English, ‘practise’ can be neglected and we just have to focus on ‘practice’ if we want to use them both as a noun and a verb. However, not all readers are Americans so it is necessary to study the difference between these two words to avoid confusion. Also, some writers from the US are following traditional British spellings, so we have to learn how these two words operate in a sentence.
When to use ‘practice’ in a sentence
                ‘Practice’ is the noun which means ‘the practical use or application of a belief, method or idea.’ For example: “The book entitled ‘The Practice and Essentials of Teaching’ should be brought for tomorrow’s class discussion.” “You should prepare for the exams; use your books and past notes as practice.”
                ‘Practice’ also means a ‘repeated performance or exercise of a certain activity or skill in order to acquire proficiency.’ “Dedication and practice should be taken into consideration if you really want to become fluent in English.” “I am telling you that without sufficient practice, you would not make it to the finals.”
When to use ‘practise’ in a sentence
                ‘Practise’ is the verb which means ‘to perform or carry out an activity or skill regularly in order to improve one’s level of expertise and proficiency.’ Here are some examples: “I practise the piano every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.” “His father wants to become good at golf so he practices every weekend.” “The nurse has been practising his profession for more than 10 years.”
Important TIP to remember:
                If you are still having confusions about when and how to use ‘practice’ and ‘practise,’ take note of these reminders. First, ‘practice’ can be replaced by the word ‘preparation’ and/or ‘lessons.’ For instance, “You need practice to become a professional driver.” If we are going to replace it with “You need preparation to become a professional driver,” the sentence still makes sense.

                You can also do this for the word ‘practise,’ but since this is a verb, you need to replace it with something that means ‘to prepare.’ For instance, “You need to practise properly in order to win.” In this example, replacing it with “You need to prepare properly in order to win” is still readable and not awkward-sounding.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Correct use of ‘a while’ and ‘awhile’

Misuse and misspelling are common problems encountered when constructing sentences. Most of the time this is avoidable, but there are certain situations when spelling and pronunciation add to the confusion. Words that sound the same even if they have different uses are known as homophones. There are hundreds of homophones in the English language and in this article we are going to discuss the difference between ‘awhile’ and ‘a while.’
These words are special kind of homophone because the appearance and spelling are the same. They are separated by just a tiny space yet their functions are different. It is necessary to keep track of these differences to maintain clarity when writing.
How is ‘a while’ used?
                ‘A while’ is not a single word. It is composed of two separate words, where ‘a’ acts as the article and ‘while’ acts as a noun. It means an indefinite period of time. The formation of these words is known as a noun phrase, which means a phrase with the primary function of a noun.
                Here are some examples: “I will be on a vacation leave for a while.” “It has been a while since the last time I ate barbecue.” “The customer waited for a while before his order is served.” Take note that when we use ‘a while’ in a sentence, a preposition (for and has been) usually comes first, such as in the examples above.
                In these examples, we can see that ‘a while’ acts as a substitute for an indefinite period of time. As an article-noun combination, ‘a while’ can be replaced with other article-noun combinations that has a specific time and date. Using the same examples above, we are going to replace ‘a while’ with other article-noun combinations:
                “I will be on a vacation for a long time.” “It has been a month since the last time I ate barbecue.” “The customer waited for a few minutes before his order is served.” We can see in these examples that the entire sentence still makes sense even if ‘a while’ is replaced with other combinations.
How is ‘awhile’ used?
                It is important to remember that ‘awhile’ is used as an adverb and it is a single word. An adverb modifies a verb and this is the only function of ‘awhile.’ However, it has the same meaning with ‘a while’ because it also means ‘an unspecified or indefinite amount of time yet it cannot come after a preposition.

                So when we say, “Can you please stay with me for awhile?” this is incorrect because ‘awhile’ cannot come after the preposition ‘for.’ We can rather say “I asked him to stay and wait awhile.”

Proper Usage of Where, Were and Wear

Where vs were vs wear
There are so many words in the English language that sound the same and they are known as homophones. Despite these similarities, most of the words have different meanings and usage in a sentence. In this paper, we are going to discuss the correct way of using ‘where,’ ‘were’ and ‘wear’ – homophones that are commonly misused and misspelled during sentence construction.
When to use ‘where’
                Of the three words, ‘where’ is versatile because it can function as a conjunction, pronoun and adverb. It is important to note however that when you are using ‘where,’ the content of the sentence has something to do with a place, situation or a location. Here are a few examples: “Where can I find your school? (Adverb).” “He lives in a place where there is no winter (conjunction).” “She moved to Japan where opportunity is better (pronoun).”
                In order to distinguish ‘where’ from ‘were’ and ‘wear,’ here are more specific ways of using it in a sentence. When referring to a reference point, the preposition ‘from’ is usually added before ‘where:’ “From where did this gift come from?” “From where I am standing, I can see everyone clearly.”
                When we are using ‘where’ to specify a destination, we do not need to add the preposition ‘to’ at the end of a sentence. For example, we say “Where are they going?” instead of “Where are they going to?” The latter is redundant and thus unnecessary to reiterate in a sentence.
                Sometimes, ‘where’ is also used in replacement of ‘in which.’ Both of these are interchangeable and acceptable in a sentence. For example: “This is the table where the documents are placed,” “This is the table in which the documents are placed.” In both examples, the use of ‘where’ and ‘in which’ are acceptable, but ‘in which’ is more often used in informal sentences than ‘where.’
When to use ‘were’
                ‘Were’ is the past tense of ‘are.’ It is a non-action form of verb that indicates a state of being in the past. In these examples, we can see how ‘were’ is used in a sentence: “My cousins were on vacation for a month,” “What were you eating when I arrived at your place?” Both examples show that ‘were’ acts as a verb, so we can easily separate it from ‘where,’ which cannot function as a verb.
When to use ‘wear’

                ‘Wear’ functions as a verb meaning ‘to use, have or carry something on a person as protection, cover or adornment.’ “My sister wears glasses because she is far-sighted.” “Always wear your seatbelt for protection.” Wear can also mean ‘to erode’ or ‘to exhaust.’ For example: “Today’s hot climate is wearing me down.” “Soon, rust and rainwater will wear the stairs down.”

How to Correctly Use Insure, Ensure and Assure

Insure vs ensure vs assure
                It is important to know how to grammatically use words in a sentence. But there are instances when the choice of words become confusing since there are words that spell almost alike and sound the same. We need to use the right set of words to avoid confusion and make our articles more professional. Some of the commonly confused words in the English language are ‘insure,’ ‘ensure’ and ‘assure.’ In this article, we are going to distinguish them from each other and make sure we are using them properly in sentences.
Using ‘ensure’ in a sentence
                ‘Ensure’ is a verb that means ‘to make sure or certain of something,’ or ‘to make sure that something should happen or that some sort of problem should not occur.’ For example: “The dog owner ensures that his pet returns home after playing,” “Randy ensures that all the boxes are sealed tightly before shipping,” and “We need to ensure that the ropes are tied tightly to avoid accidents.”
Using ‘insure’ in a sentence
                Insure is also a verb meaning ‘to provide someone or something with insurance,’ ‘to buy/purchase/obtain insurance’ and to make safe/sure/certain of something.’ Since both ‘ensure’ and ‘insure’ mean ‘making certain or sure’ they can be used interchangeably. However, ‘insure’ is a word that is often associated with the insurance industry. In other words, we can substitute ‘ensure’ for ‘insure’ in general terms, but we cannot replace ‘insure’ with ‘ensure’ if we will relate it with the insurance industry.
Correct ways of using insure: “After the massive flood damage, John and Karen needed to insure their home.” “Insuring our home with additional flood and fire policies is always a good idea.” “See to it that your car is insured before your next long trip.”
In replacement of ‘ensure:’ “You need to insure that everything is in place before you leave the house.” “Randy insured that the boxes are packed properly before shipping.” Here are some incorrect uses of ‘ensure:’ “This property is already ensured with additional policies.” “The Company ensured itself against losses from identity theft and data breach.”
Using ‘assure’ in a sentence:
                Assure is also a verb in transitive form. It means “to remove doubt by informing positively or promising.” It usually done to a person, event, circumstance, or group of people to remove any anxiety or doubt. It is important to remember that assure is used only on living things, including circumstances or events that involve people or animals.

                For example: “I assure you that you are the only one in my life.” “Robby assured Susan that his research proposal will be accepted.” “The flight attendant assured the passengers that the next flight is on schedule.”

How to Use Loose, Lose and Lost

Loose vs lose vs lost
Aside from the fact that the words ‘lose,’ ‘loose’ and ‘lost’ sound similar, they have another thing in common. That is, they all pertain to ‘losing something.’ This is why many people use the word ‘lose’ when they mean ‘loose,’ or use ‘lost’ when to they mean ‘lose.’ This can create confusion to the reader so it is necessary to avoid any more mistakes in the future.
Using ‘lose’
                Lose is an action word used when something done pertains to ‘losing’. It is also the opposite of win. For example: “I am a forgetful person so I tend to lose my belongings most of the time.” In this example, we use lose to describe something that has been misplaced from one’s possession. Another example: “They’re all tough competitors. I think you are going to lose that competition.”
                ‘Lose’ is also used as an action word in some figurative sentences. “It is painful to lose a mother” (lose here means being deprived of someone due to death). “I lose my mind whenever I see you” (to become overwhelmed/anxious in certain circumstances).
 Using ‘loose’
                Loose more specifically means ‘losing the quality of something’ rather than making specific actions that someone does. Therefore, it is used as an adjective to describe value rather than a verb that describes actions. Listed below are some examples on how to correctly use ‘loose’ in a sentence.
                If you want to describe that you lost weight you say, “My jeans are too loose now.” Here, we describe how the jeans lost its quality. It is not an action that the jeans do to for you to lose weight. Another example: “You look more beautiful when your hair is loose and not in a bun.” The quality of the loose hair makes sense instead of saying ‘your hair is lose,’ which literally translates to hair being missing or misplaced.
Using ‘lost’
                ‘Lost’ is simply the past participle and past tense of ‘lose.’ So whenever you try to discuss ‘lose’ in its past form, you use ‘lost’ instead. Also remember that since ‘lost’ is an action verb, it should be followed by a subject of some form to complete the subject-verb agreement in a sentence. Here are some examples: “The mother lost the car keys somewhere in the living room.” “I lost the competition. I should have dedicated more time in practice.”
Verifying usage:
“Let your hair lose” (This doesn’t make sense because a hair can’t lose in something. We are describing here so we use loose instead).
“You need to loose some weight” (This again doesn’t make sense because we are pertaining to an action – losing weight).
ü  Loose – an adjective
ü  Lose – a verb

ü  Lost – past participle and present tense form of ‘lose’

Advice vs advise – what is the difference?

Advice vs advise – what is the difference?
                What makes ‘advice’ and ‘advise’ often confused? They are just one letter apart. But this simple spelling error can mean a lot when we use them in writing. Aside from the fact that they spell differently, they have different functions – one acts as a noun and the other as a verb. Up to now, many students still confuse the correct usage of the two, which can cause confusion when reading articles or research works. In this paper, we are going to discuss the difference and right way of using ‘advice’ and ‘advise’ in a sentence.
Understanding ‘advice’
                Advice is a noun and it has two meanings. The first one is “recommendations or guidance offered to or given by someone about the best decision to make in a specific situation.” The second definition pertains to its business and/or legal use: “A record of a formal financial transaction or agreement.”
                Some examples how to use ‘advice’ in a sentence: “The speaker gave us a good advice on how to treat older people with love and respect.” Here, advice functions as a guidance given by someone. “The financial documents along with bank advices were issued last January 23.” In this second example, ‘advice’ acts as a formal financial transaction.
Understanding ‘advise’
                The word ‘advise’ is a verb and it has three acceptable meanings. First is “to tell a person what you think is appropriate in a certain situation.” Second is “to provide a person with information and guidance in a particular matter. Finally, “to inform a person about a situation or fact in an official and formal way.”
                Let us now use ‘advise’ in a sentence: “You should advise your daughter to go home early and get some good sleep.” “The World Health Organization’s epidemiology department will be advising on outbreak investigation and control on June 13.” “We are glad to advise you that your application has been accepted and you are expected to report tomorrow for the final interview.”
Avoiding confusion
                Most of the confusion between ‘advice’ and ‘advise’ lies on the spelling and pronunciation. The ‘c’ vs ‘s’ is particularly confusing so we have to know how to pronounce them correctly. The ‘c’ in ‘advice’ is pronounced more with an ‘s’ sound as “ice.” On the other hand, the ‘s’ in ‘advise’ should be stressed with a ‘z’ sound as in ‘ize.’ Thus, ‘advice’ or ‘ad-vise’ is the verb, while ‘advise’ or ’ad-vize’ is the noun.
Some other helpful examples:

                “You have never given me a good advice whenever I talk about my problems.” (Noun)
                “The teacher advised us to bring our own laptops for the technical exam.” (Verb)
                “His father always advise that she stay home during weekends.” (Verb)
                “My uncle’s advice was never appreciated.” (Noun)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Proper Way to Use Apostrophe

          One of the most common punctuations to be used and misused is the apostrophe. Although it’s easy enough to use for contractions, there are several variations when it comes to its usage for possession. Let’s try to see some examples.
Singular Nouns
          Peter’s favorite food is hamburger.
          Precious’ room is as organized as it can be.
          Precious’s room is as organized as it can be.
          As seen in the examples above, apostrophe could simply be used to show possession. However, if the noun preceding the apostrophe ends with s, you could or could not add another s after the apostrophe (personally, I stick with just an apostrophe so it would not be read with two s but it’s good either way as long as you’re consistent with your grammar).
          The one in the other street is Parker’s house.
          The one in the other street is Parkers’ house.
          Statements written above were not the same. The owner of the house in the former statement is Parker while the owner in the latter is Parkers. Always place your apostrophe after the complete name of the proper noun or else it might cause some confusion in the part of the reader.
Plural Nouns
          Pan and Parker’s cellphones are both brand new.
          Pan’s and Parker’s cellphones are both brand new.
          Usage of apostrophe in singular nouns are easy but when there are two subjects it becomes a bit tricky. First of all, the statements above are not the same. The first statement shows that the cellphones are owned both by Pan and Parker. But on the second statement, it says that the cellphone of Pan and the cellphone of Parker, which are theirs individually, are both brand new.
          It is easy enough to interchange the usage of apostrophe in the case above but we should be careful on how to apply this punctuation because it can give a different meaning. Just always remember that if the sentences become ambiguous, you could always change it in order to strengthen your point. Yes, there are other ways of stating possession and using apostrophes are just one of those so try to familiarize yourself with these variations so could easily write and relay your message to your readers.
          Don’t use that door. It’s broken.
          You shouldn’t use that door since its handle is broken.
          As for contractions, apostrophe could be used as seen above to simplify the following words: do not (don’t), should not (shouldn’t), and it is (it’s). However, you should be careful since it’s is not the same as its. The former is a contraction while the latter is a possessive adjective (in this example, its describe that the door’s handle is broken).
          There are still some rules and variations to completely master the usage of apostrophe. And mastery always come with practice. So always throw an apostrophe here and there and, sooner or later, you’d be able to use it with ease.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Proper Use of the Words Site, Sight and Cite

Site vs sight vs cite

                Have you ever encountered problems with using the words site, sight and cite?  This post will help you understand the proper use of the words site, sight and cite.

Monday, August 8, 2016

When to Use Then and Than

Then vs than
                ‘Then’ and ‘than’ are commonly confused with each other because apart from sounding similar, they are only one letter apart. However, it is important to note that they have different functions and uses in a sentence. ‘Then’ has different functions but it is commonly related with time, such as when telling sequences of events or providing instructions. It can be used as an adjective or adverb.

Proper Use of the Words Weather, Whether and Wether

Weather, whether or wether?

            One of the more confused words in the English vocabulary is the use of weather and whether.  Have you ever made this mistake?  To avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future, find out below the proper use of the words weather, whether and wether.

Friday, August 5, 2016

How Chinese Students in American Colleges and Universities Deal with Academic Papers

Are you a Chinese student majoring in Humanities and Sociology? Are you staring in your computer now thinking of what to write on your academic papers?

You are not alone. 

Chinese Students Strive to be Competitive in American Colleges and Universities

Are you a Chinese student in the United States seeking help with your academic essays and research papers?

In the past 4 years, there has been an exponential growth of Chinese students in the United States.  The Institute of International Education says that Chinese students account for almost 33% of all the 975,000 overseas pupils.