Language Articles

Even new born babies soon learn to communicate.  They return smiles, they giggle and wave, and then comes the gobbledegook – the practise sounds that all babies try out.

After all, they’ve been able to hear for quite a while: 18 weeks after conception. So, they grab at their chance to try out all the things they've been hearing, all those sounds.

Read more: Language Creates Opportunities - Language Article


We’ve just been badly let down. Really I am furious, but can do nothing except be polite and wish them well. We had great plans and now there is nothing. I feel as low as can be, but at least experience tells me that something good will turn up soon.

We all get these frustrations from time to time  - exam results we weren’t anticipating, or perhaps something even more serious, a broken relationship, or a lost job.

Read more: Have a go - Language Article

 

A correspondent of mine recently had this to say: I'm appalled at the increasing use of less when fewer would be more appropriate. I was taught that if you could count them (people at a meeting) you used "fewer"; if you couldn't count it (sugar) you used "less."

It seems that the trend is to use less for everything. ... I can't wrap myself around using "less" when "fewer" seems so right to me. She asked me to comment.

The traditional rule is indeed to use "fewer" with things that can be counted.

Read more: Fewer vs Less - Language Article

 

There are some words which even native English speakers can find confusing and on occasion get muddled. They may have very similar spellings or pronunciation or perhaps have very similar meanings. 

Stationary and Stationery . The first refers to remaining still and the second to paper goods for writing.

Personnel and Personal. The first is often called Human Resources these days and refers to the staff and those who deal with them – those who engage and fire staff, those who deal with difficulties and arrange holiday rotas etc. The second is to do with what belongs to an individual; his personal affairs.

Nought and Naught. These both mean nothing, but the first refers specifically to the figure zero.

Then there are singulars and plurals. Do you know the plural of the words on the next page? 

Read more: Confusing Words - Language Article