Monday, 30 October 2017

Pseudo Compound Subjects

No, no, no this is not a Psychiatric patient!!
It is a grammatical term! It refers to several singular subjects that are linked by words like :
as well as
along with
in addition to,
together with.
The subjects do not lose their singular status  and the verb reflects that in a sentence that contains that.

When we say for example:
'An exquisite 17th century painting, along with several antique Ming vases, has been placed on the auction block',
note that the verb remains in the singular. 
Some more examples:
John, as well as Mary, has passed his 'O' level exams.
Peter, along with Mark, was an apostle of Christ.
In addition to Mathematics, Physics is considered a challenging subject to many young students of Science.

So heave a sigh of relief and excel in English! 

Monday, 23 October 2017


A Modifier is a word, phrase or clause that functions as an adjective or adverb to limit, qualify or clarify the meaning of another word o word group.
e.g. Anna made a chocolate cake, that was square in shape.  
They must be placed as close to the noun they are describing or you could have absurd results. 
e.g. He told her he wanted to marry her frequently
e.g. He frequently told her he wanted to marry her.

The word 'frequently' is the modifier describing the verb 'told' and it needed to be placed right next to the verb! 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Don't pick up heavy weights like groceries or children with straight legs.

So why does this instruction not want children with straight legs to be picked up? The problem is with the punctuation of the sentence!!
The correctly punctuated sentence is given below:
Don't pick up heavy weights- like groceries or children- with straight legs.

Apparently, this appeared in the Eastern Evening News. 

There is another classic experiment which was conducted by an English professor who wrote the following on the board:

A woman without her man is nothing  

and asked his students to punctuate the sentence. 

The female students punctuated as follows:

A woman: without her, man is nothing.

The male students punctuated it as follows:

A woman, without her man, is nothing.

The 2 sentences have exactly the opposite meanings! Punctuations are important!!!

Wednesday, 18 October 2017


One of my Science teachers in School once said "both of you three, report to the Principal's office" while asking three naughty classmates to meet him at the Principal's office. 

Of course, he had the class and the culprits in splits and he just did not understand why. 

Now the word "both' is derived from 'bathir', a Norse word, which refers to an inclusion of at most 2 nouns and cannot refer to more than 2 or so we thought!

We cannot use 'both' for more than 2 nouns, but Samuel Taylor Coleridge has in fact used 'both' to refer to three things in his famous poem, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner". 

In all probability, that was poetic license, but here is the line in which he used it in Stanza 19 
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

Both means each of the two parts are wholly included in the reference.


    This is a punctuation connected with possession. 
    e.g. America's independence day is the 4th of July. 
    It is pronounced as (a-poss-tra-fee)      

    Rules for apostrophes:
    - Add an 's' after the name of the owner and singular nouns.
          That is Jack's pencil box.

    - If there are 2 owners who are named joined by 'and' put the 's after the second name.
          Spur is James and Catherine's horse.

    - Add just the apostrophe alone i.e. ' after plural names and nouns.
          The lifeguards saved the surfers' lives.

    They are also used with contractions like:-
    It's a fine day! (It is a fine day.)
    The parcel hasn't come yet.  (The parcel has not come as yet.)

    Monday, 16 October 2017

    Sample Interview Conversation and instructions for Engineers

    Walk in with your back straight and shoulders squared, with a friendly smile.
    You: Good Morning/Afternoon/ Evening!
    Interviewer: Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening! Please have a seat.
    You: Thank you!
    Interviewer: We have your application, but would like you to tell us a little bit about yourself.
    You: My name is ___________ ( Please say it, especially if your interviewer is either from another part of the country or from another country altogether, as it gives them an opportunity to learn how to pronounce your name) and I am an Engineering professional, specialising in ___________ Engineering. I am particularly interested in a career in _______________(state the career/job that you are applying for) because I am especially keen on gaining experience about ( Design/ Maintenance/ Operations, etc.) A friendly person, I am happy to work in teams and am keen to learn at first and then later contribute to the team. (Stop there, because you don't want to sound desperate)
    Interviewer: Why do you want to work with our company particularly? 
    You: I would like to work with your company as it is involved with _____________(This is where you show off all the research you have done on the company), which is an area of interest, especially for your line of products.
    Interviewer: So why should we hire you amongst all the applicants who have applied?
    You: I bring with me an attitude of humility to learn, sufficient technical knowledge as can be expected from a fresh graduate and a desire to take pride in what I do, that is to do whatever I am assigned, as best as I can.
    Interviewer: Tell us a little bit about your family.
    You: (Give them the bare essentials, accurately and in brief)
    Interviewer: What are your strengths and weaknesses?
    (By now, they have seen a good bit of you and have formed their own opinions, but they want to see how you perceive yourself )
    You: My strengths are ___________ ( don't boast, they already have judged you, and will match up what you are saying with their own impressions). My weaknesses are ____________( try to keep it singular and strategic, they are not your family priests. If it is so objectionable that no one will hire you, it would be wise not to mention it. Be honest up to a point!)
    Interviewer: Are there any questions that you would like to ask?
    You: Please tell me about the work your company is doing in ______ projects and if there is any scope for me, over a period of time, to be involved in them? (This will underline your genuine interest in the company. DO NOT ASK about money and perquisites at this stage of your career, you really do not have that much bargaining power, just yet.)
    Interviewer: Are you open to postings elsewhere in the country?
    You: Yes (Unless you have serious family reasons to say no; if they ask this question, it is a signal that they are considering you and you should be happy, as a fresh graduate you are looking to learn about life in the real world, don't be timid).
    Interviewer: Thank you, we shall revert to you in ______.  


    Friday, 13 October 2017


    Is this a biological name for some insect? You could be forgiven for thinking so, but it is a figure of speech!
    It is the naming of a thing with the sound that is associated with it. For example, you could say 
    " The chair fell over onto the carpet with a thud"

    Here are some onomatopoeias that you often find in comic books! 
      Not all are so obvious, "the clickety-clack of a passenger cabin as it rolled along" may not catch your attention, but it is an onomatopoeia too! Some of them have been around for so long that we almost forget they are there! 

    Thursday, 12 October 2017


    Euphemisms could be referred to as a kinder way of describing a harsh , perhaps rude situation! A classic example is when we describe somebody as "plain" instead of "ugly". 
    The use of euphemisms indicates the communicators finesse, rather than being overly polite. 

    Some classic euphemisms are given below :-

    real meaning 
    The Aztec two step
    Bay window
    A fat persons stomach
    Chicago typewriter
    a submachine gun
    Derbyshire neck
    Economically inactive
    File thirteen
    waste paper basket
    Glasgow Kiss
    a headbutt
    Heavy of foot
    late stage of pregnancy
    Interpret pragmatically
    John Barleycorn
    Last waltz
    The walk to execution