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For most of us, English is still a challenge. With all its irregularities, exceptions and rules, English is a very difficult language to master.
With that in mind, rediff.com presents our English Bloopers series. Here, we publish written and spoken mistakes spotted and sent to us by observant Get Ahead readers. It's a great way to review the basics, clarify a few issues and share a laugh or two!
Jagruti Sharma, director of Words Infocom Limited, sent a tremendous list of homonyms that tend to trip up non-native speakers of English. Homonyms are words that sound the same when pronounced, but are spelled differently and have different meanings.
Example: 'Loose' and 'lose'
Many people make this mistake. They inevitably interchange the words 'loose' and 'lose' while writing. 'Lose' means to 'suffer a loss or defeat'. Thus, you would write:
~ 'I don't want to lose you," and not 'I don't want to loose you.'
'Loose', on the other hand, means 'not firm' or 'not fitting.' In this context, you would write,
~ "My shirt is loose," not "My shirt is lose."
Today, we reach the mid-point -- the letter M.
mental image of perfection or excellence, as in: Pursue your ideal, even though others may not understand.
inactive or ineffective, as in: She works all the time; I've never seen her idle.
object that people worship, as in: He donated the golden idol he found to the museum.
pastoral poem or story, as in: The peaceful countryside looked like it would be a perfect setting for an idyll.
qualified for, as in: Every person who submits a new word this month is eligible to win the prize.
hard to read, as in: I have seen Web sites where the text was illegible because the background was too strong a design.
legally disqualified, as in: In the U. S., a president who has been elected twice is ineligible to run again.
draw out, as in: The band's performances always elicit praise from the critics.
not allowed, as in: Illicit copying of another person's work is punishable by law.
indirect or casual mention, as in: No one made any allusion to the scandal while she was in the room.
presentation of a false or misleading idea, as in: The magician performed the illusion of sawing the woman in half.
mistaken belief of a confused state of mind, as in: He was under the delusion that he could fly.
evasion or clever escape, as in: The embezzlers celebrated their elusion of the police a little too soon.
hard to catch or grasp, as in: The solution to the problem proved more elusive than they first thought.
deceptive or unreal, as in: Lost in the desert, he saw an illusive oasis called a mirage.
try to act like or be like, as in: Most young children imitate their parents.
suggest or imply, as in: When I talked with her last week she didn't intimate anything about her plans.
come out of something enclosed, as in: Out of four candidates, you emerge as the favorite.
plunge into (same as immerse), as in: Immerge the burn in cold water to minimize the skin damage.
plunge into, as in: Sometimes we get so immersed in our work, we forget how much time has elapsed.
move out of a country, as in: My neighbors decided to emigrate to New Zealand [Images] while the children were still young.
move into a country, as in: My mother immigrated to this country from Lithuania.
flow out from, as in : She was so creative that ideas just seemed to emanate from her.
outstanding, as in: Steven Hawking is one of the most eminent thinkers of our time.
impending, as in: When she heard a storm was imminent, she backed up her work and unplugged the computer.
freedom from a natural or usual liability or obligation, as in: Even though he admitted the accident was his fault, the Ambassador claimed diplomatic immunity and could not be sued.
freedom from punishment of any kind (usually phrased "with impunity"), as in: When the Police Department went on strike, the usually law-abiding citizens broke traffic laws with impunity.
(Thanks to Connie Hagar of Riverside, California for submitting this word set.)
point to a conclusion indirectly, as in: Do you mean to imply that it is all my fault?
draw a conclusion, as in: From your tone of voice, I infer that you are angry.
two words, an adverb and a preposition, as in: Even though it was supposed to be her day off, she came in to finish her monthly report.
entering or changing form, as in: She drove into the parking lot and found a space.
silly and pointless, as in : Those two students wasted our class time by asking inane questions.
mentally deranged or acting that way, as in: They must have been insane to try to outrun the train.
frequency of occurrence, as in: There was a high incidence of cancer near the chemical plant.
events or happenings, as in: Two funny incidents happened at school today.
burn up completely, as in: The safest way to dispose of this medical waste is to incinerate it.
slyly suggest something unpleasant, as in: To win the case, the attorney tried to insinuate the witness was lying.
motivate, as in: We should incite one another to love and fine works.
understanding, as in: She was a good teacher because of her insight into the problems facing her students.
accuse formally, as in: The Grand Jury has enough evidence to indict him.
write down or compose, as in: The President has an assistant to indite his speeches.
native, as in: Koalas are indigenous to Australia.
poor and in need of money, as in: The county hospital provides care for medically indigent adults.
righteously angry, as in: People became indignant when the corruption of the local officials was exposed.
clever, imaginative, or inventive, as in: He developed an ingenious solution to our problem.
candid, frank, guileless, as in: They grew to love him because of his sincere and ingenuous nature.
live in or on, as in: Many rare animals inhabit the island.
hold back or restrain, as in: Cleanliness will inhibit the growth of germs.
cannot be dissolved, as in: Grains of sand are insoluble in water.
cannot be solved, as in: She stumped them all with an insolvable riddle.
not able to pay debts, as in: If we don't increase our sales quickly, the company may become insolvent.
case or example, as in: In this instance, I must disagree with you.
very short periods of time, as in: I looked away for just a few instants, and when I looked back he was gone.
declare positively, as in: I assure you that I will be finished by next Tuesday.
make sure, as in: Order today to ensure delivery by Monday.
cover by insurance, as in: This company will insure the data on my hard disk as well as the computer itself.
able to understand and to reason well, as in: Her answer showed her to be an intelligent young woman.
capable of being understood, as in: With my mouth full of food, I was unable to make an intelligible reply to the question.
very strong or of a high degree, as in: I had an intense craving for chocolate right then.
aims or purposes, as in: Although we see other people's actions, we don't always know their intents.
between or among two or more states, as in: Federal laws cover interstate commerce.
without making a will, as in: If a rich person dies intestate, courts decide who inherits the money.
within one state, as in: State laws cover intrastate commerce.
capable of being rubbed out or removed, as in: Don't use an eraseable pen when doing your bookkeeping records, because these records are supposed to be permanent.
easily provoked to anger, as in: After years of enduring chronic pain, he became so irascible it took courage to go visit him.
passageway, as in: When I travel by air, I usually get an aisle seat.
small island, as in: What book would you wish for if you were stranded on a desert isle?
contraction of it is, as in: It's so nice to see you again.
belonging to it, as in: The cat licked its paw.
past tense of know, as in: I knew I should have backed up my hard drive.
fresh, original, or not used before, as in: The World Wide Web is a good way for a business to get new customers.
recognize, be familiar with, understand, as in: A good designer for a business Web site must know marketing as well as HyperText Markup Language.
not any, as in: A business with no customers doesn't stay in business for very long.
(of time) pass by, as in: Three minutes elapsed before her page had completely loaded--too many graphics!
(1)to slip or fall, as in: When the announcement came, we all lapsed into silence.
(2)to lose effect, as in: Your insurance policy will lapse if you don't pay the premiums.
a slip backwards, as in: Just when we thought he was going to get well, he suffered a relapse.
final in a series or the one before the current one, as in: I went to the theater last week.
most recent or current, as in: I haven't read the latest novel by my favorite author yet.
comparative form of late, as in: The teacher came in later than the students.
second of two mentioned, as in: I saw Barbara and Betty this morning, and the latter said to give you her best wishes.
wire mesh or narrow strip of wood, as in: The historical house featured walls of lath and plaster.
woodworking machine, as in: He shaped the legs for the chair on his lathe.
(1) place or put something, as in: Lay the book on the table.
(2) past tense of lie, as in: I lay awake many nights that summer, worrying about him.
recline, rest, or stay, as in: I felt faint and needed to lie down.
strong alkaline chemical solution, as in: It is dangerous to have a product containing lye near children or pets.
silvery gray metal often used in pencils, as in: I need a new lead for my mechanical pencil.
was out in front or conducted or guided, as in: Our team led the league for two seasons.
(1) tilt, as in: Lean closer so I can whisper in your ear.
(2) thin, as in: The stranger was tall and lean.
legal claim on someone's property, as in: If you don't pay your debt I will place a lien on your property.
contracted to use for a specified period of time, as in: They decided a leased car was better.
smallest, as in: He gave attention to all the children, even the least.
member of a lawmaking body, as in: I wrote a letter to the legislator to see if she could help.
a lawmaking body, as in: The legislature meets in the state capital.
decrease,diminish, as in: Buckling your seat belt will lessen the chance of injury in an accident.
unit of instruction, as in: My favorite science lesson was the one about the butterflies.
person to whom a lease is granted, as in: The lessee must promise to keep the house in good condition.
smaller in quantity, quality, extent, degree, or importance, as in: After the scandal, he accepted a lesser position in the company.
person granting the lease, as in: The lessor will be paid the sum of $700 per month.
embankment along a river to prevent flooding, as in : The townspeople felt much safer once the levee was completed.
impose or collect, as in: The government has the right to levy taxes.
legally responsible, as in: When he lost his case, he was found liable for millions of dollars in damages.
maliciously damaging someone's reputation in print, as in: When the book came out, the author was sued for libel by three different people.
making brighter or less heavy, as in: Better computer programs are lightening the load for many office workers.
illumination, as in: I need better lighting to read the small print in this book.
visible electrical discharge in the atmosphere, as in: Flashes of lightning illuminated the night sky.
something given temporarily, as in: Remember, this book is a loan, not a gift.
solitary, or unaccompanied, as in: The man was the lone passenger on the bus.
limited to a particular place, as in: The local people were amazed at the number of visitors to their town.
location, site, or spot, as in: This town would make a charming locale for your next book.
not tight or confined, as in: Someone left the gate open and my dog got loose.
misplace or fail, as in: I don't care if I win or lose, I just enjoy playing the game.
that which is lost, as in: Even if we didn't make a very large profit this year, it's still better than a loss.
produced or constructed, as in: We made our own clothes.
female server, as in: The maid served the tea in the parlor.
splendid or grand, as in: The prince grew up in a magnificent palace, but he was lonely.
extremely generous, as in: He gave a million dollars to the school, a munificent donation.
letters sent throught the Post Office, as in: I'm sorry, I opened your mail by mistake.
masculine, as in: There are equal numbers of male and female students in my class.
principal or chief, as in: My account is at the main office of the bank.
long hair, as in: (Teacher) Can you name two animals that have a mane?
(Student) Yes, a horse and a lion.
(Teacher) Very good!
way of acting or behaving, as in: Please fill out the entry form in the following manner.
mansion or main house on an estate, as in: He returned to the ancestral manor every spring.
relating to marriage, as in: Marital happiness takes work on the part of both husband and wife.
peace officer, as in: To make sure the law was obeyed, a U. S. marshal stood at each entrance.
military or warlike, as in: During the emergency, the town came under martial law.
fabric, as in: The coat was made of dark blue woolen material.
equipment and supplies of an army or an organization, as in: We have one department in our company for personnel, another for materiel.
two words (verbs), as in: I may be wrong, but I think the store is closed.
perhaps (adverb), as in: Maybe we can get a toy for you tomorrow.
lacking kindness, as in: At first we thought she looked mean, but we found out later that she was really nice.
a person's manner or appearance, as in: She was a woman of dignified mien.
edible flesh of an animal, as in: Vegetarians do not eat meat.
come together, as in: Would you like to meet for lunch next week?
apportion, as in: It's not up to us to mete out punishment for crimes; it's up to the court.
flat piece of metal with inscription, as in: My daughter got a gold medal in the backstroke.
intrude, as in: The parents tried not to meddle in the affairs of their adult children.
elements like iron, copper, silver, or lead, as in: The picture had an antique metal frame.
inner strength, spirit and courage, as in: The racehorse had a lot of mettle.
worker in a mine, as in: The miner wore a helmet with a lantern on the front to light his way in the tunnels.
of lesser importance or underage, as in: It's a major offense to sell alcohol to a minor.
felt regret at someone's absence, as in: I missed seeing you at the reunion.
fine spray, as in: It wasn't a shower, it was more like a mist.
physical power, as in: He hit the ball with all his might.
a tiny insect, as in: Many allergies are caused by the common dust mite.
method, manner or style, as in: This painting was done in the mode of Rembrandt.
disposition, as in: The crowd was in a joyous mood.
good according to a standard of right and wrong, as in: The moral thing to do isn't always the popular thing to do.
spirit or attitude, as in: The coach gave a pep talk to lift the team's morale.
goodness according to a recognized code of conduct, as in: For their leader they chose a person of the highest morality.
condition of being subject to death, as in: People feared getting that disease because of its high mortality rate.
early part of the day, as in: Every morning he eats cereal for breakfast.
sorrow or grief, as in: The nation entered a time of mourning after Mahatma Gandhi's [Images] assassination.
MORE English bloopers
If you'd like to share common bloopers you come across when people speak/ write in English, do mail your list, along with their correct alternatives to firstname.lastname@example.org -- we'll highlight them right here as a helpful guide to those trying to improve their English. Also, make sure you include your FULL NAME, AGE, OCCUPATION and the CITY you are based in.
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