Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 16 January 2011





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Use of preposition 'above' and 'over'

The preposition 'above' means 'higher than'. The meaning is very close to the preposition 'over'. 'Below and 'beneath' are its opposits.

There was a name board above the house number.

Soon our plane got above the clouds.

Raining started first above the hills.

The children ran over the road to meet their parents

Samson lived in a mansion above the village.

Sunil's performance was above average.

The mountain is about 1,500 metres above sea level.

'Above' can be used metaphorically.

Caesar's wife was above suspicion.

I found the new subject 'Metaphysics' above me!

'Above' can be used as a noun modifier.

The above figures show that the consumption of liquor has gone up.

'Above' can also postmodify a noun.

Sara was living in the room above but I could not meet her.

'Above' is usually not used with numbers. Use 'over' instead.

You cannot vote unless you are over 18.

A standard laptop will cost over Rs. 50,000.

As a preposition 'over' refers to movement at a higher level.

The birds flew over the paddy fields.

The children hung the balloons over the furniture.

Sometimes, 'over' can mean 'across.'

The children ran over the road to meet their parents.

We use 'over' when we cover something with something else.

Put a cloth over the food because there are a lot of flies around.

We also use 'over' when something is covering a vast area.

They have branches all over the island.

Sometimes, 'over' is used to refer to extended periods of time.

It has been raining over the past few weeks.

'Over' has a meaning of 'more than' a particular number.

Sunilís performance was above average.

Her father must be over 70.

He was caught driving over the speed limit.

Mary earns well over Rs. 100,000 a month.

'Over' can be used as an adverb when there is a movement above something or someone.

The huge bird flew over the child.

We use 'over' to indicate the end of something.

The exam is over, at last!

In informal situations we can use 'over' in the following ways.

Come and sit over here.

I'm going over to aunt Greta in the evening.

Go straight along this road and you will see a temple over to the left.

'Over' is used as a prefix. Then it refers to something in excess.

Some employees have been overpaid by the cashier.

The lecturer's approach to the topic was over elaborated.

Current English usage

English is a living language and its words, phrases and clauses are subject to change from time to time. Be familiar with the current usage of the language.

1. Diarrhoea is spelt with the 'rrh' combination and the 'oea' combination. It means a very loose bowel movement.

2. Dietician and dietitian

Both spellings are acceptable in modern English. The word means 'a person who specialises in the principles of nutrition'.

3. Different from or different to

In formal English different from is more correct than different to.

Your lifestyle is different from mine.

However, different to is used in informal English.

His view of success is different to mine.

Different than is American English.

4. Dilapidated is frequently misspelt. Note 'Di' at the beginning and the middle 'd'.

5. Dilemma is frequently misused. It refers to a situation in which you are faced with two or more equally undesirable possibilities.

6. Dinghy and Dingy

Dinghy is a small boat. Dingy means 'gloomy'.

7. Dinner, lunch, supper Those who have their main meal in the evening call it dinner. The midday meal is usually called lunch. Supper has two meanings. If it is the main meal in the evening, it is a synonym for dinner.

A light snack taken before going to bed is also known as supper.

8. Diphtheria is spelt with the 'phth' combination. It refers to a type of infectious disease.

9. Disabled should be avoided. Diifferently- abled is preferable.

10. Disadvantaged and Disadvantageous Disadvantaged means 'not having the standard of living! Disadvantaged people are living in rural areas. Disadvantageous means 'causing a disadvantage'.

Retired people sometimes find themselves in a disadvantageous position.

11. Disappoint has double 'p' and single 's'.

12. Disastrous has no 'e' after 't', although it is derived from disaster.

13. Discover and invent

Discover is to find something that is already in existence. Invent means to create something that has never existed before."

Columbusdiscovered America.

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

Use of article 'the' with singular nouns

'The' is used when a person, an animal, a plant, a place or a thing is mentioned for the second time.

Susila borrowed a book from the library.Now she is reading the book.

I was not well and went to see a doctor.However, the doctor had gone a broad.

One day a dog started following me.I stopped the dog started barking at me.

Plant a tree today. Tomorrow the tree will give you shelter.

'The' is used when it is clear to the listener or reader which person, animal, plant, place or thing you are referring to.

The judge warned the accused and discharged him.

Susila borrowed a book from the library.Now she is reading the book.

Can I use the bathroom?

The doctor advised me to exercise daily.

The teacher did not turn up to teach history.

Beware of the dog.

The bank is opposite the police station.

'The' is used when there is only one such thing.

The earth goes round the Sun.

I met a man who is sailing around the world.

'The' is used before ordinal numbers.

They live on the second floor.

Her birthday is on the 14th of August.

Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon.

Note: An ordinal number shows the position of something in a line of items.


Fill in the blanks with 'a, an', or 'the'. Check your answers with the key.

1. There is ..... monkey on my roof.

2. ...... sky is covered with dark clouds.

3. Don't block ...... entrance.

4. My sister plays ...... violin well.

5. There is ...... supermarket on Main Street.

6. Be careful! There's ...... dog at the gate.

7. Sama bought ...... umbrella.

8. Would you like ...... ice cube in your drink?

9. Mother uses ...... apron when she cooks.

10. My father works in ...... bank.



1. a 2. The 3. the 4. the 5. a

6. a 7. an 8. an 9. an 10.a



Spelling rules

Most of the nouns ending in 'o' add '-es' for the plural.

Hero: heroes

negro: negroes

potato: potatoes

tomato: tomatoes

The following are some of the exceptions:

dynamo: dynamos

magneto: magnetos

photo: photos

piano: pianos

stylo: stylos

bravado: bravados

cameo: cameos

folio: folios

ghetto: ghettos

inferno: infernos

Manifesto: manifestos

Romeo: Romeos

There is a small collection of nouns that have only one form for both singular and plural.

aircraft, deer, forceps, salmon, sheep, swine, grouse (bird)

Some nouns have no singular form.

alms, eaves, measles, news, riches,tidings, athletics, mathematics, politics (these plural nouns often take a singular verb).

Some nouns describing single things take plural verbs.

bellows, breeches, pants, pincers, pliers, scissors, shears, tongs, trousers.

When you use a 'pair of' before the above nouns, the verb should be singular.

Some nouns do not take 's' for the plural forms.

man: men

woman: women

child: children

brother: brethren

penny: pence

ox: oxen

foot: feet

tooth: teeth

louse: lice

mouse: mice

goose: geese

terminus: termini

bureau: bureaux

index: indices

crisis: crises

Here are some common foreign plurals:.

Addendum: addenda

analysis: analyses

appendix: appendices

automation: automata

axis: axes

basis: bases

criterion: criteria

datum: data

erratum: errata

focus: foci

formula: formulae

fungus: fungi

hypothesis: hypotheses

index: indices

larva: larvae

libretto: libretti

maximum: maxima

memorandum: memoranda

minimum: minima

nebula: nebulae

nucleus: nuclei

oasis: oases

parenthesis: parentheses

phenomenon: phoneme

plateau: plateaux

radius: radii

sanatorium: sanatoria

spectrum: spectra

stimulus: stimuli

stratum: strata

synopsis: synopses

terminus: termii

thesis: theses

The final double '-ll' of a word used to form a compound, becomes a single 'l'.

all: almost, alone, already, almighty, altogether, always

full: beautiful, careful, tactful, hopeful, fulfil, fulsome.

still: distil, instil

till: until

well: welcome, welfare

Exceptions: well-being, well-nigh, farewell

The following words also keep the double '-ll'.

nightfall, pitfall, waterfall, snowball, recall, install, pell-mell, misspell, retell, foretell, undersell, windmill, kill-joy, all-knowing.

Words with the suffix '-or'.

curator, horror, motor, purveyor, senior, terror, tremor,

Some words have the suffix


clamour, colour, honour, humour, odour, saviour, vapour,

Some words ending in '-our' drop the 'u' when adding a suffix.

honour: honorary

humour: humorist, humorous

vigour: vigorous

Some verbs ending in '-se' take

'-'ce' for the noun form.

advise: advice

devise: device

license: licence

practise: practice

Most words derived from Latin initiatives ending in 'are' have 'able'.

Latin: applicare (English: applicable)

Latin: educare (English: educable)

Latin: excitare (English: excitable)

Latin: suparare (English: insuperable)

Latin: vulnerare (English: vulnerable.)

Some words derived from Latin infinitives ending in 'ere' have 'ible':

Latin: accedere (English: accessible)

Latin: comprehendare (English: comprehensible)

Latin: contemnere (English: contemptible)

Latin: dividere (English: divisible)

Latin: fallere (English: fallible)

To be continued


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