Monthly Archives: February 2010

"antics" vs. "antique"

Let’s get straight to the point:

antics (n.) * – funny or strange behaviour
antique (n.) – old and often precious items

Note:

* antics” is always spelt with an “-s“.

Examples:

  1. The teacher was not pleased with his students’ antics during the drama class.
  2. The antics of that footballer each time he scores annoys the referee.
  3. Antiques can be found in museums and homes.
  4. My parents inherited lots of antiques from my late great grandparents.
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The Power of English

If you have a very strong command of the English language, you could easily come up with strings of sentences and phrases that not only challenge the readers or listeners but also tickle their bones. More importantly, you’re able to send very strong messages in a very subtle manner. Of course you could do the same with any language, but we’re now talking about English 🙂

Here are some statements that someone has just sent me:

  • Advertisement in a Long Island shop
    Guitar for sale. Cheap. No strings attached.
  • An ad in a hospital waiting room
    Smoking helps you lose weight – one lung at a time.
  • Graffiti on the wall
    – Success is relative. The more successful you are, the more relatives.
    – When I read about the evils of drinking, I give up reading.
    – My grandpa is 80 and still doesn’t need glasses; he drinks straight out  of the bottle.
    – You know your kids have grown up when your daughter puts on lipstick and your son wipes it off.
    – Behind every great man, there’s a surprised woman.
    – Laugh and the world laughs with you; snore and you sleep alone.
  • Sign in a bar
    Those of you who are drinking to forget, please pay in advance.
  • Sign in a driving school
    If your wife wants to learn to drive, don’t stand in her way.
  • Sign at a barber’s shop
    We need your heads to run our business.
  • A traffic reminder
    Don’t let your kids drive if they are not old enough or else they will never be.

"peek" vs. "peep"

An avid blogger and a regular visitor to this blog recently asked the difference between “peek” and “peep“. I seriously don’t know why English has so many minimal pairs. Why can’t every word be spelt differently? I wonder if other languages have the same phenomenon.

  • peek (v.) – to look briefly while trying to avoid being seen
  • peep (v.) – to look through something, usually a hole

Examples:

  1. Let’s take a peek at what’s happening next door but make sure they don’t see us.
  2. “No peeking, please. This is a test; you should’ve already studied that chapter long ago.”
  3. I heard a loud noise outside, so I peeked through the window and saw our neighbours arguing.
  4. Shh! I think there’s someone inside. I’m going to peep through the keyhole to find out.
  5. John peeped through the small opening in the fence when he heard a noise.

I’m going to take a peek to see if there are any peeping Toms in the vicinity. 🙂

"-se" vs. "-ce"

Here comes another bummer. 😀

How many times did you have to wonder if a word is spelt with an “-se” or a “-ce“? Many students and even adults are unsure if there is a difference between:

  • advice” and “advise
  • practice” and “practise

Yes, there is a difference but it has nothing to do with them being American English or British English.

  • advice (n.)an opinion that someone offers to you about what you should or should not do
  • advise (v.)the act of giving opinion to someone about what you should or should not do

Likewise,

  • practice (n.)regular action to improve your skill
  • practise (v.)the act of doing something regularly to improve your skill

Examples:

advice vs. advise

  1. I gave him some advice ( = opinion ) before he left abroad.
  2. Take my advice and get a doctor to look into your health problem.
  3. Could you please advise ( = give opinion to ) your students on the importance of consultation hours?
  4. Dad had advised me to stay away from bad hats, but I refused, so now I’m in deep trouble.

practice vs. practise

  1. To do well in grammar, you need plenty of practice ( = regular action ).
  2. The coach said there is a football practice this afternoon.
  3. Practise ( = do regularly ) makes perfect, so keep practising until you can play the piano well.
  4. You have to be serious when you practise, or else you’ll not improve.

So, good people, I’m advising you to practise using verbal and written English as much as you can because without practice, you’ll not be good at it. Take my advice 🙂

"minute" vs. "minutes"

One minute here, the next minute there. Where am I heading eh? Isn’t “minutes” the plural for “minute“? Well, yes and no.

  • minute (n.) unit of time which equals to 60 seconds
  • * minute (adj.) very tiny
  • ** minutes (n.)a written record of what is said at a meeting

Take note:

  • * minute (adj.) is pronounced as [mai-niut], not [mi-nit].
  • ** minutes (n.) is always plural, so don’t forget the “-s“.

Examples:

  1. I will be ready in five minutes [mi-nits], so please wait.
  2. The bacteria is so minute [mai-niut] that it could not be seen with a naked eye.
  3. The minutes of the meeting must be distributed within two weeks. (√)
    The minute of the meeting must be distributed within two weeks. (X)

Do you have a minute to help me read the minutes of the previous meeting? The secretary’s handwriting is so minute that I need a magnifying glass to read it! 😀