English 101

English Grammar – Top 7 Commonly Confused Uncountable Nouns

A noun is a word that refers to a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality.  Seems simple enough but nouns can also be very confusing. For example, some people have a tough time distinguishing countable nouns and uncountable nouns. Certain words in the English language seem countable but are actually uncountable nouns. Let’s look at seven of them: 

1  Equipment 

♦  All medical equipment must be sterilised before use. 

♦  The photographer arrived at the venue early to set up his equipment.

NOTE: As ‘equipment’ is uncountable, we cannot say ‘an equipment’ or ‘equipments’. To refer to a single item of equipment, we say a piece of equipment. The same applies to ‘furniture’ and ‘luggage’.

2  Furniture 

♦  He likes to collect antique furniture

♦  We need to buy a few more pieces of furniture for the guest room. 

3  Luggage 

♦  You should never leave your luggage unattended. 

♦  Let’s drop our luggage off at the hotel and go sightseeing. 

4  Accommodation (mainly UK)

♦  There’s a shortage of affordable accommodation in major cities like London.

♦  The cost includes flight, accommodation and meals. 

NOTE: ‘accommodations’ (plural) is used in the US.

5  Feedback 

♦  The new programme received a lot of positive feedback from viewers. 

♦  Please give us your feedback by completing this questionnaire. 

6  Evidence 

♦  Scientific evidence shows a link between smoking and lung cancer.

♦  Two pieces of evidence incriminating him were found last week.

7  Research 

♦  They are conducting some fascinating research on animal languages. 

♦  It was a useful piece of research

 

Finally, in case you didn’t know, money is uncountable BUT dollars, pounds and other monetary units are countable. 🙂

 

Sponge ME, English Tuition (Singapore)

English Vocabulary – Five Pairs of Commonly Confused English Words

Commonly Confused English Words

1. Beside vs Besides

Beside (preposition): next to or at the side of someone or something 

The girl standing beside Tom is Mary. 

Besides (preposition): in addition to/apart from someone or something

Besides working as a teacher, she also writes freelance for a fashion magazine.

 

2. Principle vs Principal

Principle (noun; usually plural): a moral rule or a strong belief that influences your actions

Lucy will not lie as she has high moral principles. 

Principle (noun): a law, a rule or a theory that something is based on

The syllabus covers basic principles of accounting. 

Principal (adjective): most important; main

Tourist revenue is the country’s principal source of wealth.

Principal (noun): the person who is in charge of a school

John is the principal of Hillview High School. 

 

3. Compliment vs Complement

Compliment (noun): a remark that expresses praise or admiration of someone 

It is a great compliment to be asked to be the guest-of-honour. 

Compliments (noun; plural): polite words or good wishes, especially when used to express praise and admiration

Please give my compliments to the wonderful chef.

Compliment (verb): to tell someone that you like or admire something he/she has done, etc.

He complimented Betsy on her new hairstyle.

Complement (verb): to add to something in a way that improves it or makes it more attractive

The excellent menu is complemented by a good wine list.

 

4. Access vs Assess

Access (noun): a way of entering or reaching a place

The burglars gained access through a broken window.

Access (verb): reach, enter or use something

This room can only be accessed by authorised personnel.

Assess (verb): to make a judgement about the nature or quality of someone/something

The government will assess how well the new system works.

 

5. Emigrate vs Immigrate 

Emigrate (verb): to leave your own country to go and live permanently in another country

The family left India in 1975 and emigrated to the United States.

Immigrate (verb): to come and live permanently in a country after leaving your own country

About 6.6 million people immigrated to the United States in the 1970s.

Sponge ME, English Tuition (Singapore)

English Grammar – Loss vs Lost

Both loss and lost have to do with losing. In this post, you will learn the difference between loss and lost.

When to use ‘loss’?

Loss is a noun (naming word) and is defined as the state of no longer having something or as much of something.

Examples:

  • I want to report the loss of a package (singular).
  • The closure of the factory will lead to a number of job losses (plural).

When to use ‘lost’?

Lost is the past tense and past participle of lose. To lose something is to misplace it or have it taken away by someone or something. Since lost is a verb (action word), you should expect to see it following a subject of some kind.

Examples:

  • I have lost my car keys.
  • Some families lost everything in the flood.

Lost is also an adjective that describes a noun.

Examples:

  • Your letter must have got lost in the post.
  • She is still looking for that lost cat.

 

Sponge ME, English Tuition (Singapore)

English Vocabulary – Top 5 Bizarre Terms by Students

1  Oftenly (instead of ‘often’)

  • Student’s sentence: People who smoke oftenly are more prone to lung cancer.
  • Get it right: People who smoke often are more prone to lung cancer. (‘Often’ and ‘frequently’ are synonyms, BUT unlike ‘frequently’, ‘often’ DOES NOT end with ‘ly’.)

2  Oning (instead of ‘switching on’ or ‘turning on’)

  • Student’s sentence: I was oning the TV when the phone rang. 
  • Get it right: I was switching on the TV when the phone rang. (‘On’ is NOT a verb! Use phrasal verbs like ‘switch on’ or ‘turn on’.)

3  Betterer (instead of ‘better’)

  • Student’s sentence: She is betterer at science than her sister.
  • Get it right: She is better at science than her sister. (There’s no such word as ‘betterer’. The correct comparative adjective is ‘better’.)

4  More worse (instead of ‘worse’)

  • Student’s sentence: My results are more worse this time.
  • Get it right: My results are worse this time. (‘Worse’ is a comparative adjective, so there’s NO NEED for ‘more’.)

5  Agreeded (instead of ‘agreed’)

  • Student’s sentence: Everyone agreeded that it was a good plan.
  • Get it right: Everyone agreed that it was a good plan. (‘Agreed’ is the past tense of ‘agree’. There’s no such word as ‘agreeded’.)

🤣  🤣  🤣  🤣  🤣

Sponge ME, English Tuition (Singapore)

English Vocabulary – Breakfast Talk

The subject of breakfast came up in class recently when the students were discussing the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad.

Student A: Not everyone can adapt to the new environment. Everything is different from the weather to the food.

Student B: Ya lor, I don’t like to eat ‘ang-moh’ food, especially ‘ang-moh’ breakfast, so if I go ‘ang-moh’ country, sure die. 😝

Tutor Adeline: Interesting. Student B, what do you mean by ‘ang-moh’ breakfast?  (asking the obvious)

Student B: The bacon, ham and all that lah.

Tutor Adeline: And you don’t like them.

Student B: Yah, cos’ they are very unhealthy.

Tutor Adeline: I have to agree with you that a typical Western-style breakfast is a heart attack on a plate. *laughter* 🤣   Since we are on the subject of breakfast, does anyone know the difference between a continental breakfast and an English breakfast?

The entire class: *blank look* 😕

Tutor Adeline: Okay, here’s the difference:

Continental Breakfast

a light breakfast, usually consisting of tea or coffee, bread rolls, croissants and pastries

English Breakfast

a large or full breakfast, usually consisting of tea or coffee, bacon, ham, sausages, eggs and a variety of other cooked foods

Student B: What about American breakfast?

Tutor Adeline: Good question!

American Breakfast

a variant of English breakfast, often consisting of the same stuff; hash browns, pancakes and waffles are common in American breakfast

Student B: That’s why it is a heart attack on a plate! *laughter* 🤣

Tutor Adeline: Everything in moderation. It’s okay to indulge once in a while. I do love bacon and pancakes, so don’t curse me. Final question. What’s a power breakfast?

Student C: After eating will become very powerful? *seriously loud laughter* 🤣  🤣

Tutor Adeline: Very funny, Student C! 😏

Power Breakfast

a meeting that business people have early in the morning while they eat breakfast

Sponge ME, English Tuition (Singapore)

Top 10 Commonly Misspelt English Words

1. a lot (NOT alot) — Two words just like ‘a bit’ and ‘a little’!

2. embarrass (NOT embarass) — Double ‘r‘ because when you are embarrassed, you go really red!

3. interest (NOT intrest) — We should spell interest with an ‘e‘ because when we are interested in something, we are full of enthusiasm.

4. restaurant (NOT restuarant) — ‘a before u‘ because the appetiser always comes first!

5. environment (NOT enviroment) — It is vital that we spell environment with an ‘n‘ just as it is vital that we conserve nature.

6. recommend (NOT recommand) — Think re + commend. The prefix re = ‘back’ or ‘again’. To commend = to praise someone or something. So think of recommend as commending again.

7. argument (NOT arguement) — Let’s just say that people often get into arguments because of the E word: ego. Therefore, drop the e‘ and stop arguing!

8. committee (NOT comittee, or commitee, or committe) — Think commit + tee. It will really tee the committee off if you do not commit yourself to spell this word correctly.

9. maintenance (NOT maintainance) — Always remember that the tenant is responsible for the maintenance of the rented apartment.

Finally, here’s the most commonly misspelt word in the world:

10. definitely (NOT definately) — I will give you a definite answer now. The word is definitely spelt with an ‘i‘!

Sponge ME, English Tuition (Singapore)

English Grammar – Everyday vs Every Day

Everyday = an adjective that describes a noun

Definition: happening every day or regularly; ordinary

Example: The Internet has become part of everyday life.              

In this instance, ‘everyday’ is followed by a noun and is not used by itself at the end of a sentence.

Every day = a phrase that usually acts as an adverb

Definition: all of the days or each day over a period of time

Example: I drink coffee every day.                                                        

In this instance, you should separate ‘every’ and ‘day’ like ‘every hour’, ‘every week’, ‘every month’, etc. You don’ t write ‘everyhour’, do you? 🙂

Sponge ME, English Tuition (Singapore)