English usage | Sunday Observer

English usage

26 March, 2023

This is a guide to help learners to communicate easily in both speech and writing through a better understanding of the English language.

Legislation / legislature
‘Legislation’ means ‘a law or set of laws.’
The Rent Act is a very important piece of legislation.
‘Legislature’ is an institution that has the power to make or change laws.
Parliament is the state legislature of Sri Lanka.

Lengthways / lengthwise
‘Lengthways’ or ‘lengthwise’ mean ‘in the direction or position of the longest side.’
You should lay the bricks lengthwise.

Lengthy / long
‘Lengthy’ means ‘continuing for a long time, often too long.’
A lengthy period of training is required for certain jobs.
‘Long’ is used to ask and talk about particular amounts of time.
How long will it take to get there?
‘For long’ means ‘for a long time’
Have you known him for long?

‘-Less’ is a suffix added to nouns. It means ‘without.’
Hopeless: without hope
Formless: without form
Colourless: without colour
Sometimes ‘-less’ is added to verbs.
Tire: tireless

Lessee / lessor
In law, a lessee is someone who is allowed to use a house, building, land or vehicle for a period of time in return for payment to the owner. A lessor is someone who allows someone else to use their house, building, land or vehicle for a period of time for payment.

‘Lest’ is a conjunction meaning ‘in order to make sure that something will not happen’
Martha turned away from the window lest anyone sees her.

The past tense and past participle of ‘let’ is the same. It means ‘to allow someone to do something.’
Some people let their children do anything they want.
‘Let’ has no passive form.
It is used more in speech than in writing. In written English we prefer to use ‘allow.’
We must allow young people to develop the country.
We use ‘let me think’ when we need time to think.
What was her name? Let me think.
‘Let down’ is a phrasal verb meaning ‘to not do something that someone trusts or expects you to do.’
Norma has been let down badly in the past.
‘Let down’ is an event or performance that is not as good as you expected it to be.
The end of the novel is a real letdown.

Letter forms
A formal letter between strangers should start with ‘Dear Sir or Dear Madam’ and end with ‘Yours faithfully.’ In less formal letters the recipient can be addressed by name: ‘Dear Mr Samuel’ and the letter should end with ‘Yours sincerely.’
Letters to friends may start with ‘Dear John’ or ‘My dear John.’ The letter may end with ‘Yours affectionately’ or simply ‘Yours.’
Formal invitations may be worded in the third person.
Mr. and Mrs. Gunasekara request the pleasure of the company of Mr. and Mrs. Perera at their daughter’s wedding.

Libel / slander
Both words mean defamation of character. ‘Libel’ is defamation that is permanent such as written or printed words, pictures or broadcast material. Slander is a malicious statement in the form of speech only.

Liberality / liberalism
‘Liberality’ means ‘understanding of, and respect for other people’s opinions.’ It also means the quality of being generous.
‘Liberalism’ means ‘liberal opinions and principles, especially on social and political subjects.’

Licence / license
‘Licence’ is the noun and ‘license’ is the verb. In American English ‘license’ is the usual form for both the noun and the verb.

Lifelong / livelong
‘Lifelong’ means ‘continuing or existing all through your life.’
Nora has become a lifelong friend of Fred.
‘Livelong’ means ‘long to the full extent, whole or entire and is used only in the expression ‘the livelong day.’