Thursday, 29 December 2011

PRONUNCIATION TIPS: Should we really stress the "r" sound in English words?

Look at these words and try to pronounce them.

are, your, more, care, there, for, four, other, or, here, over, hour, before, higher, comfort, hear, never, etc.

Should we sound the 'r' when pronouncing these words?

Actually, there's no need for us to stress the 'r' sound let alone to sound it. It will sound awkward.
However, we sound the 'r' if one of those words is followed by a vowel (a,e,i,o,u).

Here are some tips/examples:
-"Before my eyes" - silent 'r'
 "Before I go...." - with 'r' sound
- "Hear you say" - silent 'r'
  "Here I come" - with 'r' sound
- "Four or five?" - with 'r' sound
  "Four people" - silent 'r'

Now, I've found the reason why people say that Siti Nurhaliza sounds awkward when she sings her English songs.
Anyway, I'm not perfect too as I'm still learning. Peace! :)

*Another thing, be careful when pronouncing "can't" & "can" because they contrast each other.
** "WORD" and "FIRST" - the 'r' is totally silenced.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Can we use apostrophe s ('s) to show Possession of Non-living Things? (Possessive Nouns)

We should use apostrophe s ('s) when writing posssive nouns (for singular nouns not ending in s).
E.g.: The boy's ball. (which means; the ball of the boy)

but is it right to use 'the book's size' or 'the car's front'?

As books and cars are non-living things. It's more appropriate to write;
- The cover of the book.
- The front of the car.

However, we use apostrophes to show possession of periods of time such as "today's date" and "in two weeks' time".
We also use apostrophes to show possession of organizations, the earth, ships and countries, for example, "the university's rules", "the ship's bells", "the city's parks" and "Malaysia's land")

Remember, always use 'of (the)' to show possession of non-living things (especially in formal writing) and use apostrophes for living things.

*How about plants? Should we say "the plant's roots" or "the roots of the plant"?

My answer: We can indicate it as "the roots of the plant" or simply "the plant root". 
*Please take note that when the possessor and the thing possessed are both concrete objects, the possesion can also be indicated without any apostrophe for example, "the car radio", "the hotel room" and "the room door". 

Saturday, 3 December 2011


Supposed can be the past tense for the verb 'suppose'.

However, as an adjective, 'supposed' carries a totally different meaning from the verb 'suppose(d)'
As an adjective:
It is wrong to say, "You suppose to do this." 
Instead, it should be "You are supposed to do this."

As a verb:
"I'm supposed we could do that."  (WRONG)
"I suppose we could do that." (RIGHT)

Friday, 2 December 2011


Is there any difference between 'several' and 'a few'?
Both are used for countable nouns that are more than one, but not a lot.
In Malay, the meaning is similar to 'beberapa/sebilangan'.

Try to fill in these blanks with either 'several' or 'a few'
1)  Penny bought ___________ pairs of shoes.
2)  It took ____________ days for the flood in Kelantan to recede.

(*answer: (1) a few  (2) several)

So, what's the difference?
Even though they carry the same meaning, but from my understanding and knowledge, 'a few' is  'not a lot'. 'Several' is also 'not a lot' but 'quite a lot'.

Hope you understand what I mean. :)


It is wrong to say; "I have an evident"
because 'evident' is an adjective.
So, 'evidence' (noun) should be used here.

However, it is wrong to say; "I have an evidence" too
because 'evidence' is an uncountable noun.

So, you should say;
"I have the evidence." or "I have a piece of evidence."

*Don't ever use "I have evidences" because you cannot add 's' to an uncountable noun!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

'as follows' should always be 'as follows'...

and not 'as follow', whether the subject is singular or plural.

For example: (not "for examples")

The diagram is as follows: (CORRECT)
The diagrams are as follow: (WRONG)
The diagrams are as follows: (CORRECT)

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Pronouncing 'POLICE' in English

Please be careful when pronouncing 'police'.

In English, it's pronounced as /pəˈlis/ not 'po-lis' (as in Malay language)

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


1) ...4 November 1982...
2) ...the 4th of November, 1982...

3) November 4, 1982...

The following date formats are not acceptable in written essay.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

to 'scrap off' or to 'scrap out' things??

Actually, it is 'scrap' without 'off' or 'out' as 'scrap' is a verb not a phrasal verb.

So, just scrap that understanding in your mind.

"NOT TO" or "TO NOT"?

reason not to...or reason to not?

I'd say that it supposed to be 'reason not to'

e.g. There must be a reason for them not to speak English.

Other similar example:
There must a reason for not doing it.

However, there is a slight change in meaning between 'not to' and 'to not'

1) They forced me not to do it

(I was going to do it but they forced me to give up the idea)

2) They forced me to not do it

(I was doing it but they stopped me forcibly)

P/S: But I have never come across any book or statement that explains about this. DO COMMENT IF YOU FIND ANY. THANKS.

Friday, 15 July 2011

'Sir' - it's a common misused word among male English teachers.

'Sir' can be used to address a male teacher or as a polite form to address a man but definitely NOT AS A TITLE (which people used to create themselves).

For e.g.,
Good morning, sir. (to address your teacher)

It's is wrong to say
You can call me Sir Hafidz. (as a title)

(*I myself misused it before because I was introduced by the principal to all the teachers and all the students by 'Sir Hafidz' and everybody seemed couldn't stop calling me with that title as they got so used to it.)

Instead, it should be
You can call me Mr Hafidz. 

Do you know why?

It's because 'Sir' carries a very big title that we do not have that qualification and not even eligible enough to carry that title like Sir Elton John.
(kindly check your dictionary for the definition of 'Sir')
So, you'd better think carefully if you intend to introduce yourselves as "Sir <your name>"

It's even a shame if your English is not even up to that level to be called by "Sir <your name>"

Friday, 8 July 2011

Someone has stolen my spectacles. How many of 'THEM' actually?

Recently, my precious Prada spectacles were stolen.  What a bad sad experience! :( I'm still hoping to get them back.

Anyway, someone asked me 'How many spectacles have been stolen?' since I've used the word 'them'.
Only then I realised that he didn't know that 'spectacles' is a plural noun.
So, when I said 'them', I was actually refering to 'a pair of spectacles'.

They were also people who were confused when I used the word 'glasses' instead of 'spectacles' as they thought I had lost my drinking glasses.

Actually, 'spectacles' is rather formal. It is more usual to talk about my 'glasses' or 'specs'.

Monday, 4 July 2011

FUTURE TENSES are not only consist of 'will' and 'shall'...

Try this one:
"The class ________ at 9 o'clock tomorrow." (will start, will be starting, is going to start, starts)
The answer is; "The class starts at 9 o'clock tomorrow."

Even though 'tomorrow' indicates something that happens in the future but we use 'starts' because the class is fixed or scheduled at 9 o'clock everyday (habitually).

How about this?:
"I bought the ticket yesterday. I __________ to London next week."
Instead of using "I shall go", we should use "I'm going" to show something that has been planned or sth that is certain will happen, e.g. "It's going to rain" not, "It will rain."

'Please take out A PAPER' - Surprisingly, that's a common bad command by teachers.

When it refers to the material that you write on,
'paper' is an uncountable noun.

So, it should be "Please take out a piece of paper."
or "Write your name on the back of the piece of paper."

Same goes to 'music' (a piece of music) and 'clothing' (an item of clothing)

'Have a coffee'? Why is there 'a' before 'coffee' whereas 'coffee' is supposed to be an uncountable noun?

Some nouns can be both countable and uncountable. For example, we say "coffee" meaning the product, but we say "a coffee" when asking for one cup of coffee.

Here are some rules for ENGLISH ARTICLES based from my Internet reference:

In English, knowing when to use 'a' or 'the' can be difficult. Fortunately, there are rules to help you, but you need to know what type of noun you are using.

Grammar rule 1

When you have a single, countable English noun, you must always have an article before it. We cannot say "please pass me pen", we must say "please pass methe pen" or "please pass me a pen" or "please pass meyour pen".
Nouns in English can also be uncountable. Uncountable nouns can be concepts, such as 'life', 'happiness' and so on, or materials and substances, such as 'coffee', or 'wood'.

Grammar rule 2

Uncountable nouns don't use 'a' or 'an'. This is because you can't count them. For example, advice is an uncountable noun. You can't say "he gave me an advice", but you can say "he gave me some advice", or "he gave me a piece of advice".
Some nouns can be both countable and uncountable. For example, we say "coffee" meaning the product, but we say "a coffee" when asking for one cup of coffee.

Grammar rule 3

You can use 'the' to make general things specific. You can use 'the' with any type of noun – plural or singular, countable or uncountable.
"Please pass me a pen" – any pen.
"Please pass me the pen" – the one that we can both see.
"Children grow up quickly" – children in general.
"The children I know grow up quickly" – not all children, just the ones I know.
"Poetry can be beautiful"- poetry in general.
"The poetry of Hopkins is beautiful" – I'm only talking about the poetry Hopkins wrote.

More uses of articles in English

Rivers, mountain ranges, seas, oceans and geographic areas all use 'the'.
For example, "The Thames", "The Alps", "The Atlantic Ocean", "The Middle East".

Unique things have 'the'.
For example, "the sun", "the moon".

Some institutional buildings don't have an article if you visit them for the reason these buildings exist. But if you go to the building for another reason, you must use 'the'.
"Her husband is in prison." (He's a prisoner.)
"She goes to the prison to see him once a month."
"My son is in school." (He's a student.)
"I'm going to the school to see the head master."
"She's in hospital at the moment." (She's ill.)
"Her husband goes to the hospital to see her every afternoon."

Musical instruments use 'the'.
"She plays the piano."

Sports don't have an article.
"He plays football."

Illnesses don't have an article.
"He's got appendicitis."
But we say "a cold" and "a headache".

Jobs use 'a'.
"I'm a teacher."

We don't use 'a' if the country is singular. "He lives in England." But if the country's name has a "plural" meaning, we use 'the'. "The People's Republic of China", "The Netherlands", "The United States of America".

Continents, towns and streets don't have an article.
"Africa", "New York", "Church Street".

Theatres, cinemas and hotels have 'the'.
"The Odeon", "The Almeira", "The Hilton".

Abbreviations use 'the'.
"the UN", "the USA", "the IMF".

We use 'the' before classes of people.
"the rich", "the poor", "the British".

Saturday, 2 July 2011


"You must start eating fruits and vegetables daily" - WRONG
"You must start eating fruit and vegetables daily" - CORRECT

Fruit is uncountable noun. Vegetable is countable noun.

*in BrE 'a fruit' means a kind/type of fruit. 
A single apple/pear/banana/etc. is usually referred to as 'a piece of fruit'
However, in Malaysia & Singapore, we use 'a fruit' to mean a single piece of apple/pear/banana/etc. - which is wrong

Friday, 1 July 2011

FOOD is uncountable!

Food is nearly always uncountable.
"I buy a lot of foods." - WRONG
"I buy a lot of food." - RIGHT (without 's')

"It is a disgrace to serve such a poor food." - WRONG
It is a disgrace to serve such poor food."  - RIGHT (without 's')

However, it is countable only when it refers to a particular kind of food e.g. 'baby foods', 'health foods'

Thursday, 23 June 2011



When the group is being considered as a whole, it can be treated as a single entity: “the group was ready to go on stage.”
But when the individuality of its members is being emphasized, “group” is plural: “the group were in disagreement about where to go for dinner.”


Contracted and uncontracted negative questions have different word order. Uncontracted negative questions are usually used in a formal style.
  • Aren’t you coming? (Contracted – auxiliary verb + n’t + subject)
  • Doesn’t he understand? (Auxiliary verb + n’t + subject)
  • Are you not coming? (Uncontracted – auxiliary verb + subject + not)
  • Does he not understand? (Auxiliary verb + subject + not)

Friday, 17 June 2011

'For example' OR 'For examples'?

‘For example’ is considered as an idiom similar to ‘for instance’.
It can also be written in an abbreviation; e.g. (exempli gratia)

Even though you have more than one example to be stated in your sentence, using ‘for examples’ instead of ‘for example’ is WRONG.
‘FOR EXAMPLE’ should always be expressed or stated WITHOUT ‘S’.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

“The farmer as well as the labourers IS hard at work.” OR “The farmer as well as the labourers ARE hard at work.”?

In the sentence “The farmer as well as the labourers is hard at work.”, the phrase “as well as” joins two noun phrases, i.e. “the farmer” and “the labourers”. But the two are not of equal importance in the sentence. “The farmer” is more important and is the subject of the sentence. The noun phrase that comes after “as well as” is considered an addition and not one of the subjects. This is also true of noun phrases that come after along with, in addition to, together with, and some other phrases.
Since “the farmer” in the sentence is singular, the singular verb “is” is used.
If the subject is plural, a plural verb is used: “The farmers as well as the labourer are hard at work.”

Thursday, 9 June 2011

“Next week I’m going outstation” - That's totally Manglish.

Try saying “next week I’m going outstation” to a Londoner and they might start wondering what you would be doing outside the station for a week!
The word “outstation” itself is a colonial relic left by the British and cannot be found in any of the major contemporary dictionaries such as Oxford, MacMillan, Cambridge or Longman.

So how can we rephrase “outstation” to make it more international?
You could use “out of town”, “out of the office”, or simply “I’ll be away next week”. Or, you could just say where you are going!

Thursday, 2 June 2011


Many people translate “black sheep” literally as “kambing hitam” to mean fall guy. The black sheep (of the family) is actually the least favoured child, while a fall guy is a person who always takes the blame for a crime, normally for a fee, even though he is actually not the person who committed the crime. Then there is “scapegoat” which is the same as fall guy.

Someone on the radio recently used the word “childlike” to mean “behaving like a bad child”. The actual meaning is the exact opposite and when one describes a person as childlike, he is referring to the good attributes of a child such as honesty, naïvety (in the positive sense) and purity. For a negative description, the correct term is “childish” which means foolish; immature or trivial; or weak or silly.

(extracted from The Star)

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

When should we use the word 'ONLY' in our sentences?

Are these sentences correct?

1. ONLY I hit him in the eye yesterday.
2. I ONLY hit him in the eye yesterday.
3. I hit ONLY him in the eye yesterday.
4. I hit him ONLY in the eye yesterday.
5. I hit him in ONLY the eye yesterday.
6. I hit him in the ONLY eye yesterday.
7. I hit him in the eye ONLY yesterday.
8. I hit him in the eye yesterday ONLY.

The answer:
All of those sentences are correct.  Each one of them carries a different meaning as per below;

1. ONLY I hit him in the eye yesterday. (No one else did.)
2. I ONLY hit him in the eye yesterday. (Did not slap him.)
3. I hit ONLY him in the eye yesterday. (I did not hit others.)
4. I hit him ONLY in the eye yesterday. (I did not hit outside the eye.)
5. I hit him in ONLY the eye yesterday. (Not other organs.)
6. I hit him in the ONLY eye yesterday. (He doesn’t have another eye.)
7. I hit him in the eye ONLY yesterday. (Not today.)
8. I hit him in the eye yesterday ONLY. (Did not wait for today.)

Using "12 A.M." and "12 P.M." is actually WRONG! (Common Error in English)

The time should be stated as 12 noon and 12 midnight. The letters “a.m.” stand for ante meridiem, a Latin phrase which means “before noon” and the letters “p.m” stand for post meridiem, which means “after noon”.
To say 12.00a.m or 12.00p.m at noon would therefore be wrong, since noon cannot be before or after itself. As for midnight, is it before or after noon? It would be safer and clearer to call it 12:00 midnight.