English usage | Sunday Observer

English usage

2 April, 2023

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

As an uncountable noun ‘light’ means ‘the energy from the Sun, a flame or lamp’
I saw a flash of light.
As an adjective, ‘light’ means ‘pale or not dark’
Emma had blue eyes and light brown hair.
‘Light’ also means ‘not heavy’
You can carry this bag. It’s fairly light.
As a verb ‘light’ means ‘to start to burn or to make something start to burn.’
Anoma lit the fire and poured a cup of coffee.
‘Lighten’ means ‘to reduce the amount of work, worry or debt.’
We’ll hire another person to lighten your workload.
If you are ‘light-fingered,’ you are likely to steal things.
‘Light-hearted’ means ‘not serious.’
It was a light-hearted comedy.
‘Lightly’ is an adverb meaning ‘with only a small amount of weight or force.’
Sally knocked lightly on the door.
‘Lightning’ is a powerful flash of light in the sky caused by electricity and usually followed by thunder.
The past tense and past participle of ‘light’ is ‘lighted’ or ‘lit.’ Of the two, ‘lit’ is the more usual form.
I have lit the fire.
‘Like’ is acceptable as a prepositional adverb.
You are behaving like a child.
Pronouns following ‘like’ are in the accusative case.
They are just like you and me. (NOT ‘you and I)
As a verb ‘like’ means ‘to enjoy something or think that it is nice or good.’
I like your short story.
We really liked the film.
In speech we use ‘if you like’ to suggest or offer something to somebody.’
I can give her phone number, if you like.
‘Likes and dislikes’ are things that someone likes and does not like.
We all have our own likes and dislikes when it comes to politics.
Limit / delimit
‘Limit’ is to stop an amount or number from increasing beyond a particular point.
The Government has decided to limit imports of foreign cars.
‘Limited’ means ‘not very great in amount, number or ability.’
There are only a limited number of tickets available.
‘Limitless’ means ‘without a limit or end’
There are limitless opportunities for educated youths.
‘Delimit’ means ‘to set or say exactly what the limits of something are.’
Linage / lineage
‘Linage’ is alignment or the number of lines on written or printed matter.
‘Lineage’ means ‘the way in which members of a family are descended from other members.’
He comes from a family of ancient lineage.
Lineament / liniment
‘Lineament’ is a distinctive characteristic or feature of a face or body.
‘Liniment’ is a liquid preparation for rubbing into the skin especially in the treatment of bruises.
Litany / liturgy
A litany is a ceremonial form of prayer consisting of supplication with responses.
‘Liturgy’ is a form of public worship, a particular arrangement of services.
‘Literally’ means ‘according to the most basic or original meaning of a word or expression.’
The name of the cheese is Dolcelatte, literally meaning ‘sweet milk.’
‘Literally’ is used in speech to emphasise a strong expression or word that is not being used in its real or original meaning.
Some people consider this use to be incorrect.
The principal was literally blazing with anger.
Little / small
‘Little’ refers to size, duration or extent.
Martha has a little dog.
Sanduni was a little child when I met her ten years ago.
‘Small’ is a word of dimension, limited size or quantity.
Bradman lives in a small room.