Friday, 27 July 2018

Quotation marks

Quotation marks were invented by a librarian in the great library of Alexandria, called Aristarchus of Samothrace (born 217 BB - died 145 BC), the sixth Librarian of that wonderful institution, when editing some of its works, placing the "diples" to indicate that he thought the work was extraordinary 

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Subordinating conjunctions

These are conjunctions that introduce subordinate clauses into a complex sentence: Some examples are:-

  • After      
  • although     
  • as
  • as if
  • as though
  • because
  • before
  • for
  • if 
  • in order that
  • since
  • so... that
  • that 
  • though
  • unless
  • until
  • when
  • whenever
  • where
  • wherever
  • while
  • whilst

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Strange words

Clinomania: Excessive desire to stay in bed.
Euneirophrenia: The peace of mind that comes from having pleasant dreams.
Basorexia: The overwhelming desire to kiss.
Querencia: A place from which one's strength is drawn, where one feels at home; the place where one can be oneself
Tsundoku: buying books and not reading them

Monday, 23 July 2018

The endings -ion, sion and -tion

These suffixes mean 'a state of', 'act of' and 'result of':-

  1. celebration: The act of honouring a particular event
  2. incarceration: The state of being imprisoned.
  3. infection: the result of exposure to germs.

Sunday, 22 July 2018


I cannot watch TV and write a blog at the same time, multi-tasking is not my strength! Anyway, I am reading a book by Tim Allen, titled " I'm not really here". It is hilarious, and it makes me wonder how people can be so funny! 
It starts, I suppose,  by seeing the world is a different way that most of us see it.  I am amazed at how Mr Allen sees the world in such a humourous way.  I almost considered spelling 'humourous' in the American way, as Grammarly is trying to get me to do, but just because I'm writing about an American does not mean I should use their spellings too, does it?
Funny stuff is the same in any language, and everybody enjoys humour, but not everyone has that funny bone tickling all the time. I think of George Mikes, to whom I was first exposed to when got a book written by him as a prize from the South Indian Education Society College of Arts and Science. I had read other funny books, but this book gave me a fuller appreciation of Humour as Literature.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Crutch words

I never knew what term to use for words used ad nauseum by teenagers and some post-teenagers these days. Yes, I am referring to the word 'like'. Listen to any teenage conversation and it goes "I'm like, I don't want to go for this movie", "I'm like, noooo, please don't call me for this".
Now, I've finally found out what such words are called; they are Crutch words!! Not Crotch words, Crutch words.     
Spoken by those with a reported speech deficiency, these words are used like a filler ad and are equally annoying!

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Writing and penmanship

The former deals with the skill of written communication while the latter is about scripting manually in a certain manner, better or worse. Today the latter does not give me much heartache, but once my penmanship was akin to the marks made by a spider that accidentally jumped into a bottle of ink and ran across a page.
The computer has almost killed penmanship but has given a great fillip to writing! You can correct spelling errors, rearrange trains of thought, check grammar and even check for plagiarism.
Alas, you have to learn to type and He of the Fat Fingers, struggles... 

Wednesday, 18 July 2018


This is an interesting quantifier in that it is largely used with uncountable nouns.

  • I didn't use much dye.
  • I used much of the memory.
  • I didn't take much of it.
  • I didn't eat much.
It tends to be used more in general statements like:
Much nonsense has been propagated through superstition.
We have much to be annoyed about.

it is often used  with negative word or question
Peter never had much success in his medical practice.
Do you do much directing these days?

Tuesday, 17 July 2018


Adjectives can broadly be classified as gradable or non-gradable. What does this mean?
1) Gradable adjectives can form comparatives and superlatives. They can be used with words that intensify their meaning like 'very' or moderate their meaning like 'fairly'.
2) Non-gradable adjectives don't for comparative and superlatives. They can be used with words that emphasize the nature like 'fairly'. 

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Take in

This phrase means several things:
1) to include: The German Chancellor took in several Islamic migrants.
2) to deceive: Religious radicals don't take rational people in.
3) to make smaller: When my weight dropped, I had to take in my dresses.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

English words of Russian origin

Agitprop: This word means the use of political propaganda in literature, art, music, drama etc and is derived partly from the Russian word 'agitatsiya', as per the Merriam Webster Dictionary.
Disinformation: Derived from the Russian word 'dezinformatsiya', used in Russian since the 1930's, meaning what we call 'fake news' today.
Czar: Meaning King/Emperor.
Intelligentsia: referring to the class of  intelligent people of a population.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Words of Hebrew Origin

Ruthless: Okay this word is based on a Moabite Princess, Ruth, whose life was all about kindness and giving, lavishing care on her mother-in-law and everyone else. So one who is ruthless is the opposite of this. 
Leviathan: This comes from the Hebrew word for whale, leviaton.
Abracadabra: Derived from the Hebrew words a'bra and k'dabra which means I will create as I speak! 
Camel: This is derived from the 3rd letter Hebrew alphabet, called gimmel, which looks like a camel. This got corrupted to Gamal and then to 'camel'.
Sapphire: This is derived from the Hebrew word, sappir which means as blue as the skies. 

Thursday, 12 July 2018

The origin of the word Admiral

This word is derived from the Arabic word 'Amir'- in 1072 the Romans defeated Arabs on the island of Sicily, where the Arab nobles were called amirs, (emirs in current Arabic). Arabs had been ruling Sicily for about 300 years, so they gave their new governor the name 'Amir ' with the Latin grammar suffix -atus, to for the word 'Amiratus' and he was in charge of the navy of the island. This was the start of the title representing 'commander of the seas'. The insertion of the 'd' came later as a variation of the verb 'admire' and the title admiral was created 

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

English words from the Caribbean

  1. Barbecue: Originally Barbacoa, this got altered to barbecue
  2. Canoe: Originally canoa, in Spanish this got modified to canoe.
  3.  Guava: Originally Guyaba a Spanish corruption of the Arawak name wayaba.
  4. Hammocks: Originally hamaka in Taino, a Caribbean language.
  5. Maize: Originally Mahios in Taino.
  6. Tobacco: Originally tabaco a Taino word for a pipe.
  7. Okay, half a dozen is enough for now!

Tuesday, 10 July 2018


Acronyms are pronounceable words that are made from the initial letters or parts of words.
Some words that you may not recognise as acronyms are given below:

  • Nazi = actually an acronym for Nationalsozialist Party
  • Nato = an acronym for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
  • Aids = an acronym for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
  • Care = it is also an acronym for Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe
  • Swat = Special Weapons And Tactics

Monday, 9 July 2018


Who wouldn't like to have lots of them?  Did you know that the word Dollar came from the German word 'Thaler', which is an abbreviation of the word 'Joachimsthaler', which is because the metal for the coin came from a town called Jachymov, currently in the Czech Republic!
called The study of the history or the origin of words is called Etymology.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Let's get this show on the road!

This is about some idioms:

  • let's get this show on the road = let's get this project started.
  • Don't be a wet blanket = Don't be someone who kills enthusiasm with pessimism.
  • Show ...... the ropes = teach someone how to do something.
  • Talking through your hat = Talking about a subject that you are not thorough with.
  • Show one's true colours = Letting someone know who you really are. 

Saturday, 7 July 2018

The prefix In-

Consider the words below:

You can change the entire meaning of the word to its antonym by  using this prefix

Friday, 6 July 2018

The _ ic suffix

Consider the following words

These nouns can be converted to adjectives using the suffix -ic
cosmos becomes cosmic
karma becomes karmic
german becomes germanic
mania becomes manic
idiot becomes idiotic 

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Words that English has borrowed from Afrikaans

Just in case you don't know Afrikaans is the language the people of European Origin spoke in South Africa. It sort of sounds like Dutch, because most of these people were Dutch, to begin with!😀

  • Apartheid - which is the most common one, and literally means 'being apart'
  • bergwind - a warm wind blowing from the plateau to the coast
  • biltong -  a dried strip of beef, just like jerky
  • Boer - which literally means farmer
  • highveld - a plateau
  • kraal - a village within a stockade
  • rooibos - a tea made from a plant, literally this word means red bush
  • trek - which originally meant 'to haul'

Wednesday, 4 July 2018


A metaphor is an implied simile.
Hugh was a tiger in the fight for the castle.
She was fishing for compliments.
The curtain of night falls upon us.
Success has a thousand fathers, but Failure is an orphan.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018


  • What is a Dutch clock? a bedpan
  • What does being in Carey street mean? bankrupt
  • What is meant by 'a medal showing?' a button of the fly of your trousers being undone.

Monday, 2 July 2018


Why are articles necessary?
Articles are necessary to let the person reading or listening to us know which things or p[eople we are referring to. The article, definite or indefinite as the case may be, lets the reader/listener know which particular or general class of things or people we are discussing. Therefore articles fall into the calss of words called determiners.
As a general rule countable nouns need articles for this purpose.
Consider this sentence:
A person lives in a house, a rabbit lives in a burrow.
Consider the sentence without the articles 
Person lives in house, rabbit lives in burrow.
See the effect?

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Prepositions that go with 'Favour'

The proposition sets that go with 'Favour' are:
1) in .... of -We are in favour of greater investment
2) with - The president looked upon our proposal with favour.