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English Language Institute

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15 Aug
ENG45  0





While learning English language as the second language there may be some confusion using some words or phrases. In the following some of those confusions are mentioned:

Half can be both singular and plural:

Half alone is singular:

My half of the pizza is pepperoni. Yet although half is the subject in a sentence such as Half of the pizzas are missing, we use a plural verb because of something called notional agreement. It simply means that although half is singular, half of the pizzas has a notion of being plural, so you use a plural verb.

Follow this rule when half is the subject of a sentence:

If half is followed by a singular noun, use a singular verb. If half is followed by a plural noun, use a plural verb.

Half of the pepperoni is ruined, but half of the tomatoes are missing.

compound words that start with half are quirky too. They can be open, closed or hyphenated (e.g., half note, halfhearted, half-baked). There’s no rule that applies across the board, so you’ll have to check a dictionary.

Earth isn’t treated like the names of other planets.

In English, the general rule is that we capitalize the formal names of things and places (e.g., Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco), so we capitalize the names of other planets: Jupiter, Mars and so on. For some unknown reason, however, we treat earth differently. Sometimes it’s capitalized and sometimes it’s lowercase, and there doesn’t seem to be a hard-and-fast rule. Typically, when earth is preceded by the, it’s lowercase, and when earth is listed with the names of the other planets, it’s capitalized—but you can find exceptions to even these patterns. (Of course, when we’re just using earth as another word for dirt, it’s always lowercase.)

Until is ambiguous.

If you have until March 4 to submit an entry in the National Grammar Day video contest, does that mean you can still turn it in on March 4, or is March 3 the last acceptable day? Unfortunately, the word until doesn’t make the meaning clear. People can interpret it different ways. One of the most stress-inducing deadlines is the annual tax filing cutoff for the Internal Revenue Service, which makes a point to specify that the April 15 filing deadline includes April 15. It also refers to April 15 as a due date, not a deadline. If you’re following instructions, don’t assume until means through. Turn in your item a day early or get clarification.

Apostrophes can occasionally signify plurals.

We all cringe when we see a greengrocer’s apostrophe (banana’s $0.99), but did you know that in a few uncommon instances, we do use apostrophes to make things plural? In most cases, the apostrophe helps avoid confusion; single letters are one example. The first apostrophe in Dot your i’s and cross your t’s helps readers distinguish between multiple copies of the letter i and the word is. A less logical example is the phrase do’s and don’ts. Different style guides recommend different spellings (dos and don’ts, do’s and don’ts, and do’s and don’t’s). When writers use an apostrophe to make do plural but not to make don’t plural, the only reason for the apostrophe is to provide visual balance.


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