Rabu, 02 Desember 2020

Some Common Errors of Misusing English Words (Part 4)

 1. high/tall

Smoke pours out of the high chimneys all day long.*
Smoke pours out of the tall chimneys all day long

Use high to describe something that is a long way above the ground (or whose top is a long way above the ground): ‘The rooms on the ground floor have very high ceilings.’ ‘The top shelf was too high for me to reach.’ ‘The high wall made it impossible for prisoners to escape.’ Use tall (NOT high) to describe people, animals, trees, plants and things which are narrow and above average height: ‘Most of the tall trees had been cut down.’ ‘I’d like to 

2. ill/sick
I am being trained to look after ill children.*
I am being trained to look after sick children.

ill (= sick) is usually used after a verb: 'I told the doctor that I felt ill.’ ‘His father is seriously ill in hospital.’ Before a noun, use sick: ‘Your father is a very sick man.’

3. imitate/copy
I think I shall imitate my friend and join the club too .
I think I shall copy my friend and join the club too.

imitate = do something in exactly the same way that someone else does it: ‘Have you heard him trying to imitate an Englishman speaking French?’ ‘He walks as if he is trying to imitate Donald Duck.’ copy = do the same thing as someone else: ‘As soon as I began cycling to work, people started copying me.’ ‘His little sister wants to copy him all the time.’

4. increase/improve

I'd like to increase my English.*
I'd like to improve my English.

increase = become or make (something) greater in amount, number or degree: ‘The government has increased taxes.’ ‘As their profits increase, the companies expand.’ ‘The number of words in the language is increasing ail the time.’ improve = become or make (something) better: ‘Efforts are being made to improve the quality of the medical services.’

5. indeed/certainly
He claims that many young people do not want jobs but this is indeed not the case.*
He claims that many young people do not want jobs but this is certainly not the case.

Indeed is used (1) to introduce a statement that strengthens a previous point: ‘We don’t need any more high street banks. Indeed, there are too many already.’ (2) to show that you agree with a previous statement or opinion: ‘Cancer research has indeed come a long way in recent years.’ To strengthen a point or opinion that has not been mentioned before, use certainly or definitely: ‘He doesn’t treat his staff very well but he certainly knows how to make money.’ ‘The first essay is excellent but the second one definitely doesn’t deserve more than a ‘C’ grade.’

6. infancy/childhood
Mr. Fox had a very difficult infancy.*
Mr. Fox had a very difficult childhood.

Infancy (= the period when a child is very young) is used mainly in formal and technical styles: ‘In those days, large numbers of children died in infancy.’ To refer to the period when someone is a child, use childhood: The old photographs brought back memories of my childhood.’

7.  influence/effect
These drugs have no influence on the virus.*
These drugs have no effect on the virus.

If someone (or something) has an influence, they help to shape the way that someone or something develops: ‘D.W. Griffith had an enormous influence on the motion picture industry.' If something has an effect, it causes a change to take place in someone or something: ‘The war had a disastrous effect on the economy.’

8. inhabited/occupy

The bathroom was already inhabited.*
The bathroom was already occupied.

inhabit = (usually passive) live in a place or area, especially for a long time or permanently: ‘The island is mainly inhabited by sheep.’ ‘The remoter mountain regions are still inhabited by indigenous tribes.’ occupy = use or live in a room, house or building for any length of time: ‘Is that seat occupied?’ ‘The flat below was occupied by a young Sri Lankan couple.’

9. injure/damage
My car was seriously injured in the accident.*
My car was badly damaged in the accident.

Injure is used only in connection with people and animals: ‘Latest reports from the site of the crash indicate that three people are dead and twelve are seriously injured.' For objects, plants and machines, use damage: 'Some of the equipment had been badly damaged.’

10.  injured/wounded

He shot dead 22 innocent people and injured 23 others.*
He shot dead 22 innocent people and wounded 23 others.

wound = injure a person or animal by using a weapon such as a gun or knife: ‘He is accused of wounding a fellow prisoner.' ‘The sergeant had been seriously wounded and was losing blood.’

11. interrupt/disturb
The noise of the traffic interrupts the local residents.*
The noise of the traffic disturbs the local residents.

interrupt = to stop someone while they are speaking or doing something, especially by saying something yourself: ‘I’m sorry to interrupt but there’s an urgent phone call for you.’ disturb = make it difficult for someone to continue what they are doing: ‘Will it disturb you if I listen to the radio?' ‘I think we’re disturbing Martin. Let's go and talk in your office.’

12. invent/discover
It will not be long before scientists invent a cure for this terrible disease.*
It will not be long before scientists discover a cure for this terrible disease.

invent = create a machine, instrument, system or process which has never existed before: ‘Who invented the telephone?’ ‘The cotton gin was invented by Eli Whitney in 1793.’discover = find or find out something for the first time: ‘Penicillin was discovered almost by accident.’ ‘I’

13. know/get to know
The best way to know the city is to visit it on foot.*
The best way to get to know the city is to visit it on foot.

know = be familiar with: 'I know Frankfurt very well.' get to know = become familiar with: 'Once you get to know her, I'm sure you'll like her.' 'We got to know each other very well during the week we spent together.'

13. lady/woman
At the front of the queue a man and a lady were arguing with the cashier .
I At the front of the queue a man and a woman were arguing with the cashier.

Lady is used when you need to be polite, especially in formal styles: 'Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please?' 'Please show these ladies the way to the cloakroom.' The usual word is woman: 'Isn't that the woman who teaches at the International School?' Note however that old lady is generally preferred to old woman, which sounds impolite: 'Can you help that old lady across the road?'

The landscape surrounding the village is really beautiful.*
The scenery surrounding the village is really beautiful.

landscape = (a view, painting or photograph of) a wide area of land, especially in the countryside: 'Having reached the top of the hill, we sat and admired the landscape that stretched far into the distance.' 'Constable is known for his beautiful Suffolk landscapes.' scenery = the natural features of the countryside (hills, valleys, fields etc.) considered in terms of their beauty, especially those seen from a particular place: 'The train journey takes you through some breathtaking scenery.' 'Cycling means that you can get fit and enjoy the scenery at the same time.' 

15. lately/recently 

Lately someone told me that the fire was caused by a cigarette.*
Recently someone told me that the fire was caused by a cigarette.

Both lately and recently refer to a period of time that begins in the past and continues until now (the moment of speaking): 'Just lately/recently I have been wondering whether to look for a new job.' Recently is also used to refer to a point in time: 'Just recently she applied for a new job.'

16. lay/lie  

The tourists were laying in the hot sun like corpses.*
The tourists were lying in the hot sun like corpses.

lay (laying, laid, laid) = put something somewhere: 'She laid the money on the table in front of me.' lie (lying, lay, lain) = be in a horizontal position (on the ground/on a bed etc.): 'He was lying on his back, staring up at the sky.' 'I could lie here all day!'

17. lengthen/prolong

The question is whether doctors should lengthen life when there is no hope of recovery.
The question is whether doctors should prolong life when there is no hope of recovery.

lengthen = make something longer; become longer: 'We can use the old curtains, but they'll have to be lengthened.' 'As evening fell, the shadows lengthened.' prolong = prevent a feeling, activity or life from ending: 'He asked her another question just to prolong the conversation.'

18. lessen/reduce

Fortunately, my workload has been lessened.*
Fortunately, my workload has been reduced .

Lessen is mainly used in connection with pain and feelings: '1'11 give you an injection to lessen the pain.' 'No amount of comforting could lessen Charles' disappointment.' When you mean 'make something smaller in amount, number, price or size', use reduce: 'The workforce has been reduced by 50 percent.'


Over eighty per cent of these cars are old, and so are their machines .*
Over eighty per cent of these cars are old, and so are their engines.

machine = a piece of equipment which performs useful work, such as a sewing machine, washing machine or computer: 'To operate this machine, simply select the type of coffee you require and press the green button.' 'The latest machines can run both types of software.' engine = a device which provides the power for a motor vehicle, train, aircraft etc.: 'It was difficult to make yourself heard above the roar of the engines.' 'Check the tire pressures and top up the engine oil.'

20. marriage/wedding

Why didn't you invite me to your marriage?*
Why didn't you invite me to your wedding?

marriage = the ceremony of becoming husband and wife considered from a purely religious or legal point of view: 'Her parents are against the marriage.' wedding = the occasion when this ceremony takes place and the celebrations that follow it: 'I never see most of my relatives apart from at weddings.'

21. memory/souvenir

Each visitor received a small gift as a memory .
Each visitor received a small gift as a souvenir

memory = something that you remember and see as a picture in your mind, especially an experience that you had a long time ago: 'The old teddy bear brought back vivid memories of my childhood.' souvenir = something that you buy or obtain in a particular place (especially while on holiday) and keep to remind you of it: 'The vase is a souvenir of my week in Venice.

22. narrow/shrink

When immersed in water, the cloth narrows.*
When immersed in water, the cloth shrinks.

narrow (of roads, rivers etc.) = become less wide: 'Just beyond the bend, the river begins to narrow.' shrink (especially of cloth) = become smaller as a result of being wet or placed in water: 'I suggest you buy the larger size just in case it shrinks.'

23. nation/country

It's hard to tell which nation he comes from.*
It's hard to tell which country he comes from.

A person comes from, lives in, or feels part of a particular country (NOT nation): 'Some people in this country think that the leadership is too weak.' 'People living in former Soviet bloc countries are undergoing a difficult period of transition.' Nation is less common than country and is mainly used when a country is considered as a political or economic structure: 'Japan has become the richest nation in the world.' 'Representatives from the world's leading industrial nations will meet next month in Geneva.' Note the alternative: 'It's hard to tell his nationality.

24. neglect/forget

Some teachers neglect how much a student can take in during one lesson.*
Some teachers forget how much a student can take in  during one lesson.

neglect = (1) fail to look after someone or something properly: 'The garden has been badly neglected and will require a lot of attention.' (2) (formal) fail to do something, especially something that you ought to do: 'The public are demanding to know why the government neglected to warn them of the oil shortage.' forget = fail to realize something (and be guided by it): 'Children tend to forget that their parents like to have fun too.'

25. nervous/anxious/irritate 

Thinking she might be hurt, I felt very nervous.*
Thinking she might be hurt, I felt very anxious.

nervous = worried and unable to relax, especially because you lack confidence: There's no need to be so nervous. It's only an interview.' anxious = very worried about something which may happen or may have happened: 'I knew that there were no sharks around but all the same I couldn't help feeling anxious.' irritate = (of something unpleasant that happens repeatedly or continuously) make someone feel slightly angry; annoy: 'His attempts to  sound important irritate people.' Note the alternative: 'What I found really irritating was the way ... '

26. obligation/duty

My obligations include doing the housework and picking up the children from school.
My duties include doing the housework and picking up the children from school.

obligation = moral duty or responsibility: 'Having promised to cut taxes, the government now has an obligation to do so.' 'Anyone who rents a property is under an obligation to keep it clean and tidy.' duty = what you have to do because it is a part of your job or because you think it is right: 'One of the principal's main duties is to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the school.'

27. occasion/opportunity/chance

The scholarship provided me with my first occasion to travel overseas.*
The scholarship provided me with my first opportunity to travel overseas.

occasion = the time when an event happens: 'I've been to Rome on several occasions.' (= several times) opportunity = a time when it is possible to do something that you want to do: 'The meeting on Tuesday will be a good opportunity for you to make some new contacts.' 'She has considerable ability and should be even more opportunity to use it.' chance = an informal word for 'opportunity': 'If I had the chance, I'd like to be an airline pilot.' 'I've been so busy this morning I haven't had a chance to sit down.'

28. occur/take place/happen

The concert will occur at eight o'clock next Tuesday.*
The concert will take place at eight o'clock next Tuesday.

Occur is usually used in connection with unplanned events: 'Many of the serious accidents that occur are caused by human error.' 'Tornadoes occur when a warm weather front meets a body of very cold air.' For planned events, use take place: 'The wedding will take place at St Andrew's church.'

29. offer/invite

Her parents have offered me to go on holiday with them.*
Her parents have invited me to go on holiday with them.

offer to do sth = express willingness to do something: 'She's offered to help me.' invite sb to (do) sth = ask someone if they would like to come to a party, wedding etc, or join you in a social activity: 'Have you invited Mark and Valerie to the party?'

30. pardon/excuse

I asked the teacher if I could be pardoned for a few minutes.*
I asked the teacher if I could be excused for a few minutes.

pardon = (formal) forgive: 'I'm sure they will pardon the occasional mistake.' excuse = give someone permission to stay away from school, work etc., or leave a classroom, meeting etc.: 'Can I be excused from swimming today please? I've got a cold.'


Turton and Heaton. 1996. Longman Dictionary of Common Errors. England: Pearson Education Limited. 

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