English usage | Sunday Observer

English usage

28 May, 2023

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

Monarchical / monarchic / monarchal

All these words are connected with ‘monarch’ meaning a king or queen.

England still follows the old monarchical system. ‘Monarchic’ has the same meaning.

A monarchist is someone who supports the idea that their country should be ruled by a king or queen.

‘Monarchal’ means ‘befitting or having the status of a monarch and carries an aura of pomp about it.’

Money / moneys / monies

‘Money’ is what you earn by working and you can use it to buy things. Money can be in the form of notes, coins or cheques.

If you have money to burn, you have more money than you need.

Unless you have got money to burn, such an expensive apartment is not for you.

‘Money talks’ is used to say that people with money have power and they can get what they want.

‘Good money’ means ‘a lot of money.’

Colvin earned good money as a leading criminal lawyer.

‘Big money’ means ‘a very large amount of money.’

Most cricketers make big money.

‘Easy money’ means ‘money that you earn easily.’

‘Moneys’ and ‘monies’ are the plural forms of ‘money.’

The trader agreed to refund all the monies we had paid him.

Monogram / monograph

A monogram is a design that is made using the first letters of someone’s name and is put on pieces of clothing or other possessions.

A monograph is an article or short book that discusses a subject in detail.

Monologue / soliloquy

A monologue is a long speech by one person. A soliloquy has the same meaning, but a monologue is usually intended to be heard, whereas a soliloquy means talking to oneself when alone or thinking out loud regardless of whether anyone may be present. A monologue also means a form of dramatic entertainment by a single speaker.

Moral / morale / morals / amoral / immoral

‘Moral’ means ‘concerned with right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong.’

It is impossible to ignore moral considerations in your treatment of people.

‘Morale’ means ‘the condition of the mind which enables people to show courage, confidence or cheerfulness under difficult conditions.’

‘Morals’ is the plural form meaning the principles or standards of good behaviour.

Values and morals are independent of religious faith.

‘Amoral’ means ‘having no moral standards at all.’

Jack was a completely amoral person.

‘Immoral’ means ‘morally wrong.’

Deliberately making people suffer is immoral.

More than one

The expression ‘more than one’ is followed by a singular verb, despite being to all intents and purposes plural.

More than one man was killed in the accident.

Mortgagor / mortgagee

A mortgagor is the person who mortgages his property. A mortgagee is the person to whom the property is mortgaged.

Moslem / Muslim

‘Moslem’ is the traditional English spelling. However, it is being displaced by ‘Muslim’ which is in fact a more accurate representation of the Arabic pronunciation. Both ‘Moslem’ and ‘Muslim’ add an ‘s’ to form the plural.

Most / mostly

‘Most’ is an adverb meaning ‘having the greatest amount of a particular quality.’

Gardening is the most popular activity among elderly people.

‘Mostly’ is also an adverb used to talk about most numbers in a group

Green teas mostly come from China or Japan.

Motivate / motivation

‘Motivate’ means ‘to be the reason why someone does something.’

Lionel was motivated solely by a desire for power.

‘Motivation’ is ‘eagerness and willingness to do something without needing to be told or forced to do it.’

Joe is an intelligent student, but he lacks motivation.

‘Motivate’ and ‘motivation’ first came into prominence in the domain of psychology and psychiatry, where they have a useful function to perform.

Mow / mowed / mown / mower

‘Mow’ means ‘to cut grass using a machine.’

We have to mow the lawn again.

The past tense of ‘mow’ is ‘mowed.’ The past participle can be ‘mown’ or mowed.’

‘Mow down’ is a phrasal verb that means ‘to kill large numbers of people at the same time, especially by shooting them.’

The terrorists were mowed down by machine gun fire.

A mower is a machine used for cutting grass.