This category contains 30 posts

Advance or advanced?

Both advance and advanced are adjectives. But they do not mean the same. Advance: provided or carried out in advance; prior Advanced: far on (or ahead) in time or course; beyond introductory stage COMPARE: Most reservations are confirmed with a 50% advanced deposit. X Most reservations are confirmed with a 50% advance deposit. √ He … Continue reading


Maybe or may be?

Maybe (one word) is an adverb. It is used to mean perhaps or possibly. Example: I don’t see Mike around. Maybe he left for home already. May be (two words) means might be. The word may in may be is an auxiliary verb. Example: This may be the last game that he plays for this … Continue reading

‘used to’ or ‘use to’?

‘Apply to’ or ‘apply for’?

Apply to Use this when you are putting yourself forward as a candidate for something, like a course of study, or a job. You apply to graduate school. You apply to a company for employment. You apply to a bank’s loan department for a loan. Apply for Use this if your intention is to obtain … Continue reading

‘A number of’ followed by singular verb or plural?

When a sentence begins with “A number of,” should the verb that follows be singular, or plural? Compare the following sentences: A number of students were late for class. The number of students in this class is ten. In sentence 1, ‘A number of’ is an expression of quantity meaning ‘a lot of.’ The subject … Continue reading

‘Advice’ or ‘advise’? How to remember which to use

If you are confused regarding which to use, here’s a tip (click on the slide below):

‘some time’ ‘sometime’ or ‘sometimes’?

Some time (with two stresses) means quite a long time. Example: She has lived in China for quite some time, so she speaks Mandarin quite well. Sometime refers to an indefinite time, usually in the future; it means one day. Example: Why don’t we meet for a drink after work sometime next week? Sometimes is … Continue reading

‘At’ for place

At is used to talk about position at a point. Example: It is very hot at the center of the earth. (Center of the earth=position at a point) Sometimes we use at with a larger place, if we just think of it as a point: a stage on a journey or a meeting place, for … Continue reading

‘expect’ ‘hope’ or ‘wait’?

ESL learners often use expect and hope interchangeably. But the words expect, hope, and wait are all different in meaning. Expecting is mental rather than emotional. The dictionary defines ‘expect’ as ‘to consider probable or certain.’ If I expect something to happen, I have good reasons to think it will in fact happen. But hoping is … Continue reading

‘except’ or ‘except for’?

We use except for before noun phrases. Example: The classroom was empty except for a little boy at the back of the room. We also often use except (for) after generalizing words like all, any, every, no, everything, anybody, nowhere, nobody, whole.  Example: He ate everything on his plate except (for) the spinach. Nobody came … Continue reading

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