Feb 26th 2018

English Phrases That Are Culturally Bound

World landmarks photo collage isolated on white background, travel, tourism and study around the world concept

English phrases that are culturally bound to the continents they derived from – Understanding the phrases means understanding the culture! Here are a couple of our favorite culturally bound phrases:

Don’t throw the baby out with the water
Albeit cruel, it isn’t as bad as it first seems. The true interpretation of this saying is simply “never to dispose something of value alongside something that is unwanted”.

The story behind this phrase:
Once upon a time, baths were taken in a tub filled with hot water. The entire family took turns to make the most use of the water in the bathtub. Usually the rounds started with the head of the house, afterwards, younger males, thereafter the women would follow, last bathed were the babies. By this time, the water was pretty murky, so literally, one could lose a baby in the water as the water gets so dirty and one could not see the bottom of the tub —henceforward, the slogan, “Don’t throw the baby out with the water” came to be.

Kick the Bucket
The literal meaning of this phrase is of course knocking over a bucket using one’s leg. But what does that have to do with its actual meaning which is “to die”?

The story behind this phrase:
In ancient history, the wooden mount that was used to hang livestock up by their feet for slaughter was named a bucket. Not surprisingly, the animals in most cases used to tussle or shudder once dead and therefore ‘kick the bucket’.

Shirtsleeves to Shirtsleeves in Three Generations 
This idiom happens to be a very twisted one. Most people find it difficult to comprehend, and even more difficult to actually use this in conversation.  The meaning of this phrase relates to the last of three-generations being wasteful of the riches gathered through the hard work of the first generation.

The story behind this phrase:
The first generation comes from a life of suffering and does everything to make sure there is a brighter tomorrow for themselves. They bear children, these are the second generation.

The second generation grows to adulthood while experiencing what their parents have been through and take up from where their parents left off. They make sound monetary decisions which significantly improve their financial status. Eventually they become well-off or even rich, hoping their children would benefit from their wealth.

The third generation has no recollection of how their grandparents started off or the struggle for a better tomorrow. Without knowledge of what it took to get to this point, this generation now gets to spend everything that their grandparents, as well as parents, have worked so hard to achieve.

To be a doubting Thomas
The story behind this phrase:
This idiom could be traced back to the scriptures (John 20: 24 – 29) and was very commonly used in the early years of the 17th century.
Thomas, one of the twelve disciples, doubted wholeheartedly the resurrection and proclaimed that he will only believe what he can see and feel. The slogan, ‘doubting Thomas’ refers to a cynic who never believes anything told until encounters a face to face confrontation.

On the wagon
Have you ever taken the time to comprehend the slogan “on the wagon”? Doesn’t it sound a whole lot clearer to simply say “I’m not drinking”?

The rumor behind this phrase:
A group of prisoners was being transported by wagon, possibly to their death. All the prisoners were permitted to have one last drink in the local tavern before their final journey to execution. The good times stopped once they were on the wagon.

Dirt Poor
There’s a very simple explanation for this phrase: if a person was poor, the floor of their dwelling was dirt. Only the wealthy had flooring other than dirt, such as wooden planks. Thus, the proverb “dirt poor.”

The story behind this phrase:
In ancient times the huts of the poor people were not covered and the ground was bare, unlike those who had a bit of money, had wooden floors.

“Dirt poor” is an American phrase which was first ever acknowledged in the 1930s, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, and a search of Google Books backs up the claim.

What are your favorite cultural bound phrases?

Leave a comment

Feb 11th 2018

6 Common Comma Usage Mistakes

Comma Usage

Guest post written by Anna Marsh on February 11, 2018 

Do you get irritated by those green lines on your word document notifying you of a misplaced or missing comma? If yes, then you are among the many other writers who tend to goof their writing due to the wrong use of comma. The misuse of the comma is one of the most common forms of grammatical mistakes that writers commit in their writing pieces.

Any major mistake in the comma usage can change the connotation of a word or alter the entire meaning of a sentence. So, if you are a newbie writer who wants to be more accurate with his comma usage, here are some of the common mistakes you must avoid:

1. Adding A Comma Before “That” In A Clause
Often, we see writers using a comma before a clause that starts with “that”. This is a wrong practice because when we use “that” to introduce a restrictive clause then it does not require a comma before “that”.
Incorrect: The car, that banged on the wall was old.
Correct: The car that banged on the wall was old.

2. Not Using a Comma Between Two Independent Clauses That Are Connected By A Coordinating Conjunction
This is another common mistake in comma usage. Not using a comma between two independent clauses separated by a conjunction can change the meaning of the whole sentence.
Incorrect: I played chess but I could not win any competition.
Correct: I played chess, but I could not win any competition.

3. Using A Comma Before A Verb In Relative Clause
Putting a comma before a verb that connects a relative clause to the main clauses breaks the connection between the two clauses and changes the meaning of the sentence.
Incorrect: One of the perks of hiring an essay writing service, is the free revision.
Correct: One of the perks of hiring an essay writing service is the free revision.

4. Comma Splice and Run-On Sentence
A comma splice occurs when you place a comma between two independent clauses without a conjunction between them. A Grammarian would consider this an inappropriate use of the comma.
Incorrect: I opened the door, I fell on the ground.
Correct: I opened the door. I fell on the ground.

Furthermore, a run-on sentence occurs when you don’t put a comma when connecting two independent clauses.
Incorrect: After I finished my work I went out for a break.
Correct: After I finished my work, I went out for a break.

5. Using A Comma in An Essential Adjective Clause
An essential adjective clause is one that is vital to explain the meaning of a sentence. For example:
It is the place that I always aspired to visit in my lifetime.

In the above example, the words in italics are the essential adjective clause because it defines the particular place that the subject wanted to pay a visit and using a comma is not appropriate in this case.
Incorrect: He is the man, whom I met on the plane.
Correct: He is the man whom I met on the plane.

6. Using A Comma Before a Subordinate Conjunction
A subordinate conjunction is a type of conjunction that connects an independent clause with a dependent clause. Here are some of the examples:
– Allan missed the train because he woke up late.
– You cannot win the competition unless you excel in the training session.
– He will visit New York after the winter ends.

In the aforementioned examples, you can see that the dependent clause starts with a subordinate conjunction which connects it to the independent clause. The conjunction links the two clauses to give the right meaning. So, there is no need to use a comma between the clauses.
Incorrect: I caught a cold, because I had some ice cream.
Correct: I caught a cold because I had some ice cream.

The above-mentioned are some of the common mistakes in comma usage. Hope, this article helps you make the right use of comma in your writing.

About the Author
Anna Marsh is a Pro Writer, Educator, and a Blogger. In her blog, she likes to share her tips about the various aspects of grammar usage. She has a fascination in different cultures and languages. Being a veteran educator, she also helps students with their academic issues. You can reach her Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.


Feb 8th 2018

New Words Added to the Dictionary in 2017

New English Words

With the year 2018 coming alive all around us, let’s take a few moments and look back at some of the new words added to the Dictionary in 2017. Some of the new words are fascinating, hence, a review is in order!

New words are typically introduced when a group uses a certain word while interacting with others outside of that group. This causes the word to spread and gain popularity across various populations until it sometimes gradually makes its way into mainstream communications. That’s when it’s considered for inclusion in the English dictionaries, such as the Oxford dictionary (OED).

This year, a noticeable trend is a rise in the number of Indian based words which were added to the English dictionary. No less than 70 such words were added to the OED during 2017, putting the total count of Indian words in the Oxford English Dictionary on close to 1000. Why has this happened? Some might ask, well, the answer is simple:

English has a centuries-long history in India, during which it has played significant roles in the country’s society.
First: It served as a means of communication between merchants and missionaries.
Second: It was made the country’s primary language during colonial administration.
Finally: It obtained an official status in the independent India and thus continued to function as a lingua Franca in one of the world most linguistically diverse nations.

You might have seen these words being used on social media outlets and wondered about their meaning and origin – so here they are for you to revisit, together with their definition and some sample usage sentences from the Oxford English Dictionary.

Here’s a couple of our favorites from the list:

A loud singer or song.
Sentence Example: She was a belter in her performance last night.

Someone who is daft, mad or losing the plot.
Sentence Example: “That is the yampy man I was referring to yesterday.”

Drama or dramatic art.
Sentence Example: The natak we are about to experience is certainly worth the money and time.”

Regular travel back and forth over an established, often short route by a vehicle.
Sentence Example: Hail that shuttler please!”

Freak flag:
Defiant, or proud exhibition of traits which are considered as unconventional.
Sentence Example: “She is such a freak flag when she wants to be!”

Silly, dippy, kooky persona.
Sentence Example: “Ever since we moved to the new neighborhood, the dog has become so wifty-wafty.”

Share with us your favorite new English words!

Leave a comment

Jan 31st 2018

Essential Proofreading Tips for Business Writers

Guest post written by Paul Bates on January 31, 2018 

Business writers can either be freelancers or employees in that organization depending on their job description and their role in achieving the companies’ objectives. For accuracy and clarity, a writer’s work should not encompass errors in grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary. Proofreading is a culminating writing process after drafting and editing. In the following article we will provide essential proofreading tips for business writers. Exposing content to a fresh set of eyes while concurrently proofreading own work is one of the ways a business writer can improve their proofreading skills.

Read through the work              
Proofreading is subsequent to final drafting. A writer proofreads their work to catch errors and makes necessary changes. It is paramount to acquaint with the syntactical rules of the involved language. Basic rules of language require the use of varieties of syntax to improve the quality of work. Perusing through one’s work is essential in making note of patterns of error. Plausibly, all writers make errors that are typical of their writing. Reading through the work aids in keeping a list that constantly makes the writer aware of these mistakes hence simplifies the proofreading process. Scrutinizing out loud a writer’s own writing is a tactic that accentuates run-on sentences that would otherwise be missed if read silently. Reading backward, that is from the point of termination to the commencement part, provides a clear view of mistakes. This is because reading in an unnatural order reduces the monotony of seeing what you expect.

Customize the text editor
Customizing the text editor to detect sentence fragmentation, style and sentence structure, punctuation errors, and vocabulary enhancements expedite the proofreading process. Syntax highlighting and autocomplete are some of the features that facilitate the proofreading process. A business writer requires a text editor with flexible customization options and built-in software that eliminate unnecessary mistakes before looking for them. A writer’s credibility depends on the quality of the content they fabricate. This means that the organization should set aside sufficient monetary requirements necessary to purchase the required tools and software that make proofreading easier. For example, the notepad ++ is known to have the ability to design a custom syntax.

Work from a printout
Business writers have been advised from time to time to print out a soft copy of their work after finalizing their draft. Corrections should be done on the hard-copy before implementing them on the file in the computer. Knowing which errors to look for, and highlighting them on the paper prevents mistake patterns that are redundant. Errors that are put on the spotlight are then corrected on the computer file before publishing the content to the consumers. For the writer, converting work edits and re-writes from a draft provides a clear visual progression of the final product which is ultimately satisfying.

A printout also ensures that several copies are issued to editors that assist the business writer in reading and proofreading where necessary. Separating yourself from the work and perusing through it from a reader’s point of view helps to identify inconsistencies. Seeking a second and a third opinion is important to get different but obliging opinions.

Rely on external literature
Proofreading is a collective process that involves the use of tools such as dictionaries. The dictionary is the easiest way to acquire vocabulary enhancements and spellings. Using them as references in any format available, that is online or a hard copy reduces the uncertainty of implementing erroneous words. Other tools that are considered useful but should not be relied on entirely are spelling and grammar checkers. Although such tools don’t highlight every mistake, they aid in catching infinitesimal errors. This contributes to the entire proofreading process by saving time.

 The role of tools, skills, and people in facilitating effective proofreading as demonstrated in this article constitutes giving business writers an edge in terms of the various activities that characterize the entire process. The article comprehensively outlines the effective tips that all writers assimilate during their whole writing and publishing process. Taking this into consideration, in a decade to come, enhanced text-vetting and proofreading software will have been developed as a result of the ubiquitous and evolving technology.

“Paul Bates is a content marketing expert at Solidessay.com Besides, he is a regular contributor to such websites as MOZ, ConfidentWriters, BuzzFeed, etc.”

Leave a comment

Jan 30th 2018

Memorizing Synonyms and Antonyms

Synonyms Memorization_500x300_4

In learning and communicating effectively in English, a key aspect is the use of synonyms and antonyms. Before fully diving into the subject, it is important to understand the meaning of these two terms:

Synonyms are different words which possess the same meaning.
Antonyms are words which are opposite in meaning.

One quick way to remember this is by memorizing:
S, the first letter of the word Synonyms, can stand for “Same”.
A, the first letter of the word “Antonyms”, can stand for “Against”.

Here’s how you can memorize synonyms and antonyms easily:

  • Look the word up in the dictionary and thesaurus: This is definitely one of the most common and important things to do. Most synonyms and antonyms are not evident after the first It is always advisable to consult your dictionary to get a full grasp of what the meaning is all about.
  • Make then personal: Words that are personalized are usually retained in the brain for much longer. You can personalize words by using them in your everyday conversations, including them in a short story or poem you are writing and so on. In doing this, you are creating a memory of the words and also learning the more appropriate way in which to use them.
  • Learn synonyms and antonyms under the same category: Trying to comprehend all the synonyms and antonyms the English language offers will definitely lead to no success. It is thus advisable to learn antonyms and synonyms under a particular One can learn, for instance, antonyms and synonyms relating to health and hospitals in general. Doing this gives you an ability to know how to use the words in the right context and retain a greater number of them in memory.
  • Make a study plan: Learning antonyms and synonyms or even when learning new words in general, it is very important to have a clearly cut out study plan that allows for all forms of learning. You should make time for discovering new words and personalizing Try also to listen to an English related podcast, read English novels or be in the presence of people who speak better English than you.

To summarize the above, memorization of synonyms and antonyms is quite easy when you discover a memorization and study method that suits you and your learning ability. While it may be difficult to memorize all the words in just a day or week, gradually studying and applying these words during communication and real-life situations is one of the ways to perfectly memorize them effectively. You can also get a study or memorization partner which can actually make memorization practice fun and faster.

1 Comment