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'