Loose vs. Lose – Don’t Lose Your Mind Over It

Loose vs. Lose – Don’t Lose Your Mind Over It

Mar 24

Here is a pop-quiz: Which one is correct? I am going to lose my mind. I am going to loose my mind. If you have to spend more than a split second in making that decision, you really need to read this article about loose vs. lose. The confusion between “loose” and “lose” is so rampant that I hope the whole world reads this article. My bosses make this mistake, and so do my friends. And all this time, I have been itching to correct them. So this article is my way of relieving that itch. Loose and lose sound similar but are quite different in their meanings and usage. Read the following sentences and try to identify the mistake. Wrong Usage: You are too precious to loose. Wrong Usage: When you sight the target, lose the arrow. “Loose” is an adjective. Loose means to be free, not tight, and without restraint. It is an antonym of tight, firm, and bound. For example: I have a loose tooth. These ropes are very loose. We cannot have a wild dog running loose around the house. “Lose” is a verb. It means failure to keep something, fail to win, or to have someone die. For example: How did you lose your husband? Do you think India will lose this World Cup? I always lose my keys. Remember that to “lose” is to fail to keep something and “loose” is the opposite of “tight.” One simple way to remember these two words would be that “lose has lost its extra o.” How is that for an original mnemonic? Want me to create another one, here goes, “loose is not tight, so it has space to put an extra o.” Or how about: You will have to lose weight if you want that dress to be loose. Now have I inspired you enough to get going with your own puns with “Loose vs. Lose?” How about: “when you “lose” something, you won”t be putting in an extra “o”. And when something is not tight you will have two “o”s....

Desert vs. Dessert Is Easy

Desert vs. Dessert Is Easy

Mar 22

Imagine that you are in the middle of a romantic date and you say, ‘I would love dessert,’ and your date says ‘Desert! How can you love that?’ And poor you will be left thinking that your date is probably referring to your weight, while your guy will be wondering why you love the arid desert. What have we learnt here? The girl here is talking about ordering a ‘dessert’ to eat, while her date thinks that she meant ‘desert.’ Dessert is a noun. The last course of a meal is called a dessert. According to US English, dessert can be anything sweet such as pastries, cookies, ice cream, or a pudding. In British English, it refers to fruits, candies, nuts, or candied fruits. Here are some examples: What would you like to have for dessert? I have made fruit salad and ice cream for dessert Desert, one the other hand, can be used for as a noun or verb. The noun desert refers to large barren land, full of sand, stretching across large areas without substantial vegetation or water. Here are some examples of how the noun “desert” is used: One cannot travel in the desert without a camel I have never seen lions in a desert. Desert as a verb can be used to describe an action of abandoning, shirking responsibilities, or withdrawing from duty. E.g., Till the end of the last century, army deserters were shot dead. I would never desert my country at its hour of need. The noun and verb forms of “desert” sound identical. So how do you avoid confusion? You have to discern the context of usage and figure out which “desert” is being referred to. This article is written by Sumeetha Manikandan who has recently joined the team of writers at...

Affected vs. Effected Is Primarily a Debate Because of Affect vs. Effect

Affected vs. Effected Is Primarily a Debate Because of Affect vs. Effect

Feb 28

Sometime ago, when I was writing about the “then” versus “than” debate, I had said that I could not see the reason for confusion between those two words. Today the situation is different. The two words that we are trying to differentiate are “affect” and “effect.” Affect vs. Effect Other than the fact that they sound similar, what confounds matters is that both of them are nouns as well as verbs. The difference is that “affect” is usually a verb and rarely a noun. On the other hand, “effect” is usually a noun and rarely a verb. Affect as a Verb With the implementation of the new policy, the entire education system has been affected. Effect as a Noun Her effect on me was so profound, that I turned vegetarian. So, as we can see, “effect” is commonly used to denote an outcome. On the other hand, “affect” is commonly used to denote an impact or an influence. Affected vs. Effected Now that we know the difference between “affect” and “effect,” the difference between “affected” and “effected” should be easy to decipher. In fact, I’ve already used the word “affected” in one of the illustrative sentences above. “Affected” usually means acted upon in a certain way. This certain way could have many interpretations. Somebody who is infected could be called “affected.” Somebody who has a mental condition could be called “affected” too. “Effected,” on the other hand, usually means achieved or accomplished. An example could be: The new policy effected a substantial change on the entire education system. Compare the use of “effected” in this sentence, with the use of “affected” in one of my earlier examples, and the difference will stand out. Rare Usages of Affect and Effect At the beginning of this article, I told you that “affect” and “effect” were both noun as well as verb. Here are some examples: Effect as a Verb With my repetition, I hoped to effect change in the student’s behavior. Affect as a Noun John is experiencing a trauma...

Among? Or Amongst? Settling the Among vs. Amongst Dilemma

Among? Or Amongst? Settling the Among vs. Amongst Dilemma

Feb 24

Now that you have been following the English Usage lessons on this blog, let me begin today’s post with a pop-quiz. Fill in the following blank, with either an “among” or an “amongst:” I was just one individual _______ dozens of enthusiastic people. So what was your answer? Should it be “among?” Or should it be “amongst?” What really is the difference between “among” and “amongst?” There are various opinions on this rather inconsequential matter. But at the end of it all, the take away is that there is no difference between the two. Sure there is some difference, but there isn’t really an adequate difference to choose one from the other. The word “amongst” sounds like a British word to most people. Americans are probably a little more practical, so they tend to drop extra letters when they can. So you can basically use “among” and “amongst” interchangeably. Phew! Finally a vocabulary-related rule that I can live with. Often I come across some irritatingly hairsplitting differences between similar words. That is not the case today. Feel free to use “among” our “amongst” as you choose fit. To summarize, use “amongst” because: 1) it sounds old and traditional 2) I like it 🙂 Use “among” because: 1) it is shorter 2) it sounds modern 3) I end up using it more often 🙂 And that brings us to the end of today’s article. Quick recap: “among” and “amongst” are interchangeable. Americans use “among.” Even otherwise “among” is more commonly used. Now you go ahead and use whichever one you...

Putting to Rest the “Then” vs. “Than” Controversy Once and for All

Putting to Rest the “Then” vs. “Than” Controversy Once and for All

Feb 20

I am often told that the usage of the words “then” vs. “than”, presents a dilemma to English speakers. Without any insensitivity to these so-called English speakers, I must tell you that I cannot see the reason for the confusion. Readers of this blog know that I have acknowledged that the English language contains far too much ambiguity and confusion. But I believe that the “then” vs. “than” controversy is not a reasonable one. All the same let us try to understand these two words: “Than” is used to compare. It is a conjunction. It is usually used off to a comparative adjective or adverb. Common uses of “than” could be: Jim is taller than Charles. The movie is longer than you think. I’d expect the tea to be hotter than this. “Then” can be used in a wide variety of situations. But most of them revolve around a sense of time or timing. Here are some common uses of the word “then”: I went home, and then I took a bath. First I’ll study English, and then I’ll study mathematics. If you want to succeed, then you will have to work hard. As you can see from the above examples, “then” and “than” are indeed substantially different. In that case, why is there a controversy? The reason for this doubt, or should I say error, is that the two words sound alike. Many of those for whom English is a foreign language, have learned it primarily by listening to the language, and not reading it. As a consequence, “then” sounds akin to “than”. This can give birth to confusion. I hope that my explanation puts to rest the “then” vs. “than” controversy once and for all. Keep reading this blog, for more such errors in English. If you have a doubt, feel free to post a comment, and I’ll try to convert your requirement into a blog post. Until next time, keep...