English usage | Sunday Observer

English usage

30 July, 2023

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

‘Parameter’ means ‘a set of fixed limits that control the way that something should be done.’
The inquiry has to stay within the parameters laid down by the Government.
‘Parameter’ is another word whose popularity has led to a distortion and oversimplification of its very specialised meaning in mathematics. It is frequently used as a synonym for ‘boundary, limit’ or ‘framework.’
Para –
The prefix ‘para-’ means ‘beyond’ as in the ‘paranormal’ (strange unnatural events, beyond normal, experience).
‘Para –’also means ‘very similar to something.’ There were terrorists wearing paramilitary uniforms.
Another meaning of ‘para-’is ‘relating to a profession and helping more highly trained people.’
A paramedic is someone who helps a doctor.
A paralegal is someone who helps a lawyer.
A parody is a piece of writing that copies someone or something in an amusing way.
Its purpose is to ridicule the writer of the original by making fun of his work.
A parody also means something that is not a correct or acceptable example of something.
Although Sam’s comment was a parody of the truth, Diane was upset by it.
Patron / patronage
A patron is someone who supports the activities of an organisation, for example, by giving money.
A wealthy patron is helping the home for the aged.
A patron also means a famous person who is officially involved with an organisation, such as a charity.
Another meaning of ‘patron’ is someone who uses a particular shop, restaurant or hotel. It is a synonym for ‘customer.’
‘Patronage’ is the support, especially financial support, given to an organisation or activity by a patron.
Partially / partly
‘Partially’ means ‘not completely.’
His operation was only partially successful.
You are partially responsible for her unhappiness.
‘Partly’ means ‘to some degree, but not completely.’
The company’s problems are partly due to mismanagement. Although there is some overlapping between these two adverbs, they are not really interchangeable.
The English verb has two participles, the present which ends in ‘-ing’, and the past which may end in ‘-n’ or ‘-en’ in strong verbs and ‘-ed’ or ‘-d’ in weak verbs. The present participle forms the present continuous.
Kamala is talking to Rajah.
The past participle forms the perfect tense. I have finished writing the essay.
Both participles can be used as adjectives:
We are travelling along a winding road. Roger was arrested for driving a stolen car.
A particular thing or person is the one that you are talking about, and not any other.
In this particular case, no one else was involved. ‘Particular’ also means ‘special or great.’
Students should pay particular attention to spelling.
Another meaning of ‘particular’ is ‘very careful about choosing exactly what you like and not easily satisfied.’
Mary is very particular about her food.
‘In particular’ means ‘especially’
It was a good concert – I enjoyed the songs in particular.
‘Particularity’ means ‘a quality that makes something different from all others.’
I was impressed by the particularity of his style of writing.
Parts of speech
There are eight parts of speech that you should learn. They are: Noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction and interjection.
Pass / passed / past
The word ‘pass’ has several meanings. The crowd allowed the truck to pass them.
We passed through the gate.
He passed the rope carefully around the post. Pass the salt, please.
Sandra passed the examination.
I’ll pass the information to your friends.
In everyday English people usually say that they spend time doing something rather than pass time.
Susila spent the whole day watching TV.