Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Maybe And May Be

This is probably another common mistake people always make. I always thought Maybe is either a broken English word, or a slang. To my surprise, Maybe is really an English word! So what is the difference? Can both be used to represent the same meaning?

Maybe is an adverb. It is often used to represent a suggestion of fact, status or decision; its elaborating a possibility. Example, Maybe She will come back someday.

May Be is an auxilary verb. It is used to state a possible outcome in the future on a particular subject. Example, The skills of making money online may be packaged as a course in future.

Hope this helps to clarify certain doubts you have over the use of these words.

On a similar note. May Be and Might Be are not just simply different tenses. May Be is used to emphasize a strong possible outcome than Might Be.

Revert And Get Back

I have decide that I should expand the discussion on words with very close meanings, and include phrases with close meanings as well. Afterall, my target is to point out the most common errors and misunderstandings on usage of English words and phrase, so as to benefit more to those who reads my blog.

Let me introduce Revert and Get Back. In my area of work where I have to deal with hundreds of emails every week ( I am considered lucky. I have heard thousands!), I practically come across the phrase, "please kindly revert to me by *some-dates*" you may wish to know that this phrase is wrong.

Revert as a verb, refers to returning back to previous state, position, configurations, status. Example: our company has reverted back to a 5-day working week, after realizing that staff's productivity is low on Saturday.

Is there a need to explain Get Back? Yes! Let's make it simple, it means either to reply or an eye for an eye. Example, please kindly get back to me on the attendance.OR I admit I used her to get back at him.

Humble And Modest

Most of us probably encountered the word Humble first before Modest. My first encounter of Modest was during my secondary (High) school days. Modesty is part of the school motto, and till the day I graduated from university, I still thought that modest was equivalent to humble.

I really wanted to say that both adjectives mean the same. Even the dictionaries show examples that to a certain extent, that both words can be used interchangebly. However, I had came across sources which show that they do have different meanings.

Humble refers to being unpretentious, not arrogant, submission, and some degree of inferiority. Example, He expresses his humble apologies. OR  He came from a humble background.

Modest refers to not bragging about one's achievements. In some cases, equivalent to limited size, amount or capacity. For example. Although he is a top student in this year, he remains modest about his results. OR He is earning a modest income to support the family.

Terrified And Petrified

They do sound the same, and more or less give people the idea of experiencing fear. However there is a difference between them, else why should we have two different words in the first place?

Terrified is a past-tense verb which refers to getting frighten or menaced, or being in a state of intense fear. Example: She is terrified of her boss.

Petrified is also a past-tense verb, but it usually indicates  the loss of movement or being stunned due to fear. Example: She is petrified by the sight of blood filling up the bathtub.

Petrified has another meaning which is not commonly used. An action to convert organic matter into stone-hard material. However, to make things simple, I would usually prefer to remember Petrified, based on the first definition. Hope I have made your day by introducing the correct meaning for the words, and one less chance to get embarrassed by using them wrongly.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Infer And Conclude

I have to admit that this is tricky, and these two words are very commonly used interchangeably. So what is the difference? In order to provide a good answer to these, I have to dig into multiple dictionaries.

Both words are verbs. Let's start with Infer. Infer usually refers to deducing based on evidence, facts or what was seen, e.g. visible, or an action of suggesting or implying. He infers that the failure of the team is partly due to my incompetency.

Conclude refers to reaching a decision or opinion, with evidence and facts. This decision or opinion is usually final, which means it doesn't make sense for a person to conclude an issue now and and conclude again on the same issue an hour later, unless there is a major decrepancies on the evidence or facts. A good example would be the usage in the final paragraph of a report where you will draw the conclusion. The project team has concluded, after assessing the risks, that the disaster will not affect the project schedule.

Beside And Besides

Are there a difference between Beside and Besides? Many would have easily thought that one of them is singular, and the other is pural. In fact, this is not the case.

Beside is a preposition. It refers to at a side or next to a subject, and this usually refers to a physical aspect. For example, You are sitting beside me.

Besides is also a preposition and sometimes an adverb, but it has a totally different meaning. It refers to in addition to, furthermore, and apart from. For example, Besides donating to the charity, he has also helped in the fund raising campaign.

Hopefully, this simple and concise explanation can help those who have been making this mistake. In certain cases where the wrong usage of these words can be humorous and totally changed the meaning of the the sentences.

Example: Who is sitting, besides you in the meeting?

I am sure the writer of this sentence wants to ask who is physically sat beside you in the meeting. But what the above sentence really meant is other than you, who is physically sitting in the meeting. Does it mean the rest of the members of the meeting were standing?

Do you have any other examples of such words that are often misinterpreted as singular and pural?