Verb often can confuse
Don’t say: Rosie tried to found her lost book,
Say: Rosie tried to find her lost book.
To find is a very common verb meaning to get back a thing lost. It’s principal parts: find, found, found.
Note: There is, however, another verb to found, meaning to establish: He founded the school fifty years ago.
Have another look at …
Use of will and shall
I’llwill/shall You’ll/will He/she it’ll/will
We’ll/will/shall You’ll/will They’ll/will
The short form ‘ll can be used for both will and shall. We usually use the long form in writing and the short in speech, but when we are writing informally we also use the short form.
The future auxiliary will has several different meanings:
1. It can be used for things which we expect to happen: He (‘ll) will speak to you about it tomorrow.
2. It can be used as a conditional with an if or whether clause:
Jane will give you a lift if you need one.
1. We use will or shall for requests and offers: Will you help me sort out these books?
2. When will is stressed it often means that someone insists on or persists in doing something:
Barry will keep handing in his homework late.
1. Shall is always used in the first person in the question form:
Shall I leave the door open? Shall we have lunch now?
1. Shall is sometimes used in modern English with the first person (I or we) when we are speaking or writing formally:
We shall never forget your kindness.
Shall isn’t generally used in other contexts nowadays, though it used to be quite common.
Don’t say: John fall down and broke his leg.
Say: John fell down and broke his leg.
The past tense of this verb is fell, not fall. It’s principal parts are: fall, fell, fallen.
Note: Fell, felled, felled means to knock or cut down: The wood-cutter felled a large tree
Flown for Flowed.
Don’t say: The river has flown over its banks.
Say: The river has flowed over its banks.
Flown is the past participle of fly, the past participle of flow (= to move as water) is flowed. The principal parts of the two verbs are: fly, flew, flown – flow, flowed, flowed.
Note: Flee, fled, fled is formal but we still use it to mean to run away We flee from danger Float, floated, floated means to stay on the surface of water or other liquid: Ships float on the water.
Let for Make (= to force).
Don’t say: The examiner let me sit quietly until everyone had finished.
Say: The examiner made me sit quietly until everyone had finished.
Don’t use let in the sense of make, meaning to force.
Care about, Care for for Take care of.
Don’t say: Oliver cares about (cares for) his brother’s investments.
Say: Oliver takes care of his brother’s investments.
Care about means to like and be concerned about something or someone. Take care of means to look after someone or something: You should take care of your children, or do something to remedy a problem: I think I should take care of that broken pane of glass. Care for means to look after: I cared for you when you were ill. Care for can also mean to be fond of someone or something: William really cares for geraniums, though this use is rather old-fashioned.
Note: Avoid also such expressions as:
(1) He doesn’t care for my advice,
(2) He doesn’t care for his work,
(3) He took no care of him,
(4) No one cared for him
during his illness Say :
(1) He pays no attention to my advice,
(2) He takes no care over his work,
(3) He took no notice of him,
(4) No one took care of him during his illness.
Don’t say: Do you put your money in the bank?
Say: Do you keep your money in the bank?
It’s better to use keep for a more or less permanent resting place, and put for a temporary one.
Don’t say: I don’t sympathise him very much.
Say: I don’t like him very much.
Sympathise isn’t synonymous with like. To sympathise with means to share some feeling (usually of sorrow) with another person: I sympathise with you in your sorrow.
Leave for Give up, etc.
Don’t say: I’ve now left football.
Say: I’ve now given up football.
Or: I’ve now stopped playing football.
Never use leave in the meaning of give up, or stop something.
Take out for Take
Don’t say: Chris took out his hat and coat.
Say: Chris took off his hat and coat.
The opposite of put on is take off, and not take out.
Take for Buy.
Don’t say: I went to the baker’s to take bread.
Say: I went to the baker’s to buy bread.
Never use take in the sense of buy.
Learn for Study.
Don’t say: Kevin is learning at Gordon College.
Say: Kevin is studying at Gordon College.
The expression I learn at (Gordon College, etc.) is incorrect. Say I study at (Gordon College, etc.) or I am a student at (Gordon College, etc.).
Don’t say: Lucy is reading algebra in her room.
Say: Lucy is studying algebra in her room.
To study means to try to learn, to read doesn’t imply any effort. A student studies English, maths, history and other subjects, heshe reads a story,
Know for Learn,
Don’t say: Dan went to school to know English.
Say: Dan went to school to learn English.
Use know when learning is finished: She knows how to swim. Similarly, avoid.
Like for want etc.
Don’t say: Do you like to see my collection?
Say: Do you want to see my collection?
Do you like to do something? means do you enjoy doing it as a habitual action Do you want to do something? means do you wish to do it now.
Note: I would/’d like means I want: I would/’d like (= I want) to play tennis today. Would you like (= do you want) to go for a walk with me? Would/’d like is more polite than want.
Take for get
Don’t say: Clare took a good mark in English.
Say: Clare got a good mark in English.
To take means to obtain something intentionally or by force: I took a book from the library, The army took the city. To get or to receive means to obtain something which is given such as a gift, a letter, money, or a mark in an exam.
Be with for Have
Don’t say: My History book is with my brother.
Say: My brother has my history book.
Be found for Be.
Don’t say: The man was found in his
Say: The man was in his office.
In English, the verb be found generally means be discovered: Diamonds are found in Africa and in India. Therefore, He was found in his office would suggest that the man had hidden himself in his office and was later discovered.
Sleep for Go to
Don’t say: I’ll sleep early tonight.
Say: I’ll go to bed early tonight.
To go to bed denotes the act of lying down on a bed in preparation for going to sleep. We can say that a person went to bed at nine o’clock, but that he didn’t sleep until eleven o’clock. Then he slept soundly Go to sleep means to fall asleep He went to sleep while he was in the cinema.
Leave for Let go.
Don’t say: Leave the other end of the string.
Say: Let go of the other end of the string.
Leave isn’t usually used in the sense of let go but you will hear the idiom leave go in very informal English to mean let go.
Don’t say: Please remember me to give it back.
Say: Please remind me to give it back.
To remember is to have in mind: I remember what you told me. To remind is to make a person remember something.
Hear for Listen.
Don’t say: I was hearing her CDs.
Say: I was listening to her CDs.
To listen to may also mean to think carefully about what someone Say: Gerry always listens to his mother.
See for Look.
Don’t say: Neil was seeing out of the window.
Say: Neil was looking out of the window.
To see is to notice with the eyes, but to look is to direct the eyes in order to see: I looked up and saw the plane.
Drown for Sink.
Don’t say: The ship drowned in the ocean.
Say: The ship sank in the ocean.
To be drowned refers to living things, and means to die in water, to sink refers to people or things, and means to go down to the bottom of water.
Don’t say: The astronauts are bringing plants to the moon.
Say: The astronauts are taking plants to the moon.
Using bring or take depends on where the speaker or doer is. We use bring for things coming to where we are and take for things going somewhere else: Take these cakes to your grandmother and bring (back) some flowers from her garden.
Note: To fetch means to go somewhere else and come back with something: Please fetch me a glass of water (= go and come back with a glass of water).
Don’t say: Penny didn’t leave me to get my book.
Say: Penny didn’t let me get my book.
Let means to allow. Leave means to abandon or to go away from: Do you leave your books at school?
Don’t say: The teacher accepted to go with us.
Say: The teacher agreed to go with us.
Accept means to take something that is offered to you. Maria accepted the bunch of flowers. It also means to believe something you’re told: Ken accepted his explanation. Agree to means to do what one is asked to do: David agreed to come to London on Monday, but agree with means to have the same opinion as someone else. The Long family never agree with each other.
Note: We agree with a person, but to a thing. I agree with Luke, but I can’t agree to this plan.
Win or Beat.
Don’t say: We’ve always won your team.
Say: We’ve always beaten your team.
is to get something you wanted, to beat is to overcome an opponent: The girls beat the boys, and won the prize.
Remember: the principal parts of each verb: beat, beat, beaten, and win, won, won.
Don’t say: Graham learned us how to play hockey.
Say: Graham taught us how to play hockey.
Teach means to give instruction, learn means to receive instruction: He taught me English, and I learned it quickly.
Could for Was able to.
Don’t say: Because Laura worked hard she could finish the job in time.
Say: Because Laura worked hard she was able to finish the job in time.
If the meaning is managed to or succeeded in doing, use was able to, and not could.
Please for Ask or Thank.
Don’t say: I pleased him to do me a favour; or: I pleased him for his lovely present.
Say: I asked him to do me a favour;
and: I thanked him for his lovely present.
To please means to give pleasure to: I worked hard to please my teacher.
Dust for Cover with dust.
Don’t say: A sandstorm dusted our clothes.
Say: A sandstorm covered our clothes with dust.
To dust doesn’t mean to cover with dust, but to remove dust from: After sweeping, she dusted the furniture.
Correct for Repair or
Don’t say: Some men are correcting the road.
Say: Some men are repairing the road.
To correct is to make something right: to correct mistakes, a composition, a translation, one’s pronunciation, etc. To repair or to mend is to put in good condition after being damaged: to repair or mend a road, clothes, shoes, etc.
Note: To repair a watch is to put it in good condition again, but to correct a watch is to set it to the right time.
Substitute for Replace
Don’t say: They substituted gold with paper money.
Say: They replaced gold with paper money.
We replace one thing with another, but we substitute one thing for another. The two phrases mean the reverse of each other: You replace gold with paper money. You substitute paper money for gold.
Don’t say: She wins her living by hard work.
Say: She earns her living by hard work.
To earn means to receive in return for work, to win is to obtain as a result of fighting, competition, gambling, etc.
Note: The verb to gain may be used with either meaning: to gain one’s living or to gain a victory, a prize, etc.
Don’t say: I hired out a surf board when I was in America.
Say: I hired a surf board when I was in America.
Note: To hire something is to pay to use it, usually for a short time, with one single payment: a suit, a bicycle, a rowing boat etc. To hire out is to offer something for someone else to hire.
Let for Rent and Hired out for Hire.
Don’t say: I let the house from Mr Jones.
Say: I rent the house from Mr Jones.
Note: To rent something is to pay to use it, usually for a long period of time: a house, a car, a piano etc. To let something is to allow someone to pay you for the use of something that belongs to you.
Made from and Made of
(a) Made from.
Don’t say: The bowl is made of glass.
Say: The bowl is made from glass.
(b) Made of.
Don’t say: The statue is made from marble.
Say: The statue is made of marble.
We usually use of when you can still recognise the original material. We use from when the original materials are unrecognisable. In most cases either is possible.
Take place and Take part
(a) Take place.
Don’t say: The meeting will take part soon.
Say: The meeting will take place soon.
(b) Take part.
Don’t say: I’ll take place in the meeting.
Say: I’ll take part in the meeting.
To take place means to happen or to be held, while to take part means to be involved in.
Discover and Invent
Don’t say: America was invented by Columbus.
Say: America was discovered by Columbus.
Don’t say: Edison discovered the gramophone.
Say: Edison invented the gramophone.
To discover is to find that which existed before but was unknown, and to invent is to create that which didn’t exist before.
Refuse and Deny.
Don’t say: Sarah denied to take the money.
Say: Sarah refused to take the money.
Don’t say: John refused that he’d done it.
Say: John denied that he’d done it.
To refuse means not to take what is offered or not to do what one is asked to do. To deny means to answer in the negative or to say that a statement isn’t true.
Convince and Persuade.
Don’t say: I am persuaded of Robin’s innocence.
Say: I am convinced of Robin’s innocence.
Persuade and convince have very similar meanings and are mostly interchangeable in modern English: Delia persuaded me to take the exam = Delia convinced me to take the exam. Except in the case of to be convinced of something meaning to believe something.
Note: Care must be taken not to confuse persuade with pursued, the past tense of pursue (= to follow).
Take revenge and Avenge.
Don’t say: I must avenge myself for what he did to me!
Say: I must take revenge for what he did to me!
Note: Avenge and revenge oneself are now only found in literary English. We usually use take revenge (on). We might also Say: He must have his revenge.
Steal and Rob
Don’t say: Someone has robbed all her money.
Say: Someone has stolen all her money.
Don’t say: Some men stole a bank last night.
Say: Some men robbed a bank last night.
The object of steal is the thing taken by the thief, such as money, a watch, a bicycle, etc., while the object of rob is the person or place from whom (or which) the thing is taken, such as a man, a house, or a bank.
Don’t say: Will you please borrow me a book?
Say: Will you please lend me a book?
To borrow is to get something from someone, and to lend is to give something to someone.
Borrow and Lend
Don’t say: I want to lend a book from you.
Say: I want to borrow a book from you.
Interfere in and Interfere
(a) Interfere in.
Don’t say: Don’t interfere with my private business!
Say: Don’t interfere in my private business!
(b) Interfere with.
Don’t say: Paul is always interfering in the equipment.
Say: Paul is always interfering with the equipment.
Interfere in means to concern yourself with something which you shouldn’t. Interfere with means to do some damage or be a nuisance to someone or something.
Deal with and Deal
(a) Deal with.
Don’t say: This book deals in common errors.
Say: This book deals with common errors.
(b) Deal in.
Don’t say: A bookseller deals with books.
Say: A bookseller deals in books.
To deaf with means to have to do with, to deal in means to buy and sell.
Note: To deal with also means to take action on a matter: The headmaster will deal with that question.
Pick and Pick (a) Pick.
Don’t say: We picked up flowers in the garden.
Say: We picked flowers in the garden.
(b) Pick up.
Don’t say: The naughty boy picked a stone.
Say: The naughty boy picked up a stone.
To pick fruit or flowers means to pull them away with the fingers, to pick up means to lift up from the ground. The important element is that what is picked up isn’t attached.
Grow and Grow
Don’t say: These flowers grow up very quickly.
Say: These flowers grow very quickly.
(b) Grow up.
Don’t say: When I grow I’ll be a doctor.
Say: When I grow up I’ll be a doctor.
To grow means to become bigger, to grow up means to become an adult.
Note: Other meanings of grow.
(1) to occur naturally in the ground: Rice grows in Egypt;
(2) to cause to grow: We grow flowers in our garden;
(3) to allow to grow: He grew a beard;
(4) to become: The nights grow cold in winter.
Tear and Tear up.
Don’t say: John tore up his coat on a nail.
Say: John tore his coat on a nail.
(b) Tear up.
Don’t say: Philip was angry and tore the letter.
Say: Philip was angry and tore up the letter.
To tear means to divide along a straight or irregular line, sometimes by accident. To tear up means to destroy by tearing to pieces.
Note: The word up is often used with verbs to express the idea of greater completeness: burn up, drink up, dry up, cut up, eat up, shut up, use up.
Wear and Put on.
Don’t say: Kathy always puts on black shoes.
Say: Kathy always wears black shoes.
(b) Put on.
Don’t say: I wear my clothes in the morning.
Say: I put on my clothes in the morning.
Wear means to have upon the body as a garment or as an ornament. To put on denotes a simple act.
Note: To dress has nearly the same meaning as to put on, but the object of dress is a person and not a thing: He dressed himself and went out, The mother dressed her baby.
Hanged and Hung
Don’t say: No-one has been hung in Britain since 1964.
Say: No-one has been hanged in Britain since 1964.
Don’t say: We hanged the picture on the wall.
Say: We hung the picture on the wail.
When the reference is to killing a person or animal by hanging, we use the form hanged. In other cases, the form is hung. The principal parts of the two verbs are: hang, hanged, hanged; hang, hung, hung.
Stay and Remain
Don’t say: We remained in a very good hotel.
Say: We stayed in a very good hotel.
Don’t say: Not many figs have stayed on the tree.
Say: Not many figs have remained on the tree.
Here, to stay means to live for a short time as a guest or a visitor, and to remain means to be left after part has been taken or destroyed.
Note; Use either verb when the meaning is to continue in the same place or condition: I’ll stay (or remain) at home til! tomorrow. Remain is more formal.
Like and love
Don’t say: I like you! Will you marry me?
Say: I love you! Will you marry me?
Both verbs can be used for people and things, the only difference is one of degree Love is much stronger than like.
Rise and (a) Rise.
Don’t say: Val raises very early in the morning.
Say: Val rises very early in the morning.
Don’t say: She rose their salaries too often.
Say: She raised their salaries too often.
Rise is an intransitive verb and means to go up, stand up, or get out of bed. It doesn’t require an object. Raise is a transitive verb and means to lift up something Their principal parts are; rise, rose, risen, and raise, raised, raised.
Note: Arise is often used for rise, but it is better to use arise only in the sense of begin: A quarrel (a discussion, an argument, a difficulty, etc.) may arise. This is formal but is still used.
Sit and Seat.
Don’t say: We seat at a desk to write a letter.
Say: We sit at a desk to write a letter.
Don’t say: He sat the passengers one by one.
Say: He seated the passengers one by one.
Use sit as an intransitive verb. Seat is a transitive verb and requires an object. Very often the object of seat is a reflexive pronoun: He seated himself near the fire. The principal parts of the two verbs are: sit, sat, sat, and seat, seated, seated.
Note: Don’t confuse sit with set, which usually means to place. Common idioms with set: to set the table, to set on fire, to set off (or out), to set a trap, to set a clock, to set a price, to set your heart on, to set free, to set an example, to set a broken bone, to set to work (= to start work).
Lie and Lay.
Don’t say: I’m going to lay down for an hour.
Say: I’m going to lie down for an hour.
Don’t say: Please lie the exam papers on the desk.
Say: Please lay out the exam papers on the desk.
Lie (= to rest) is an intransitive verb and never has an object. Lay (= to put) is a transitive verb and always requires an object. Their principal parts are lie, lay, lain, and lay, laid, laid.
Note: Lie, lied, lied is to tell an untruth: He has lied to me. Lay, laid, laid also means to produce eggs: The hen has laid an egg. (Idiom: Lay the table is to prepare the table for a meal.)
Make and Do.
Don’t say: The carpenter did a large table.
Say: The carpenter made a large table.
Don’t say: You must make your work carefully.
Say: You must do your work carefully.
To make primarily means to construct or manufacture something, while to do means to accomplish a thing.
Note: Common exceptions with make and do.
(a) To make a mistake, to make a promise, to make a speech, to make an excuse, to make haste, to make fun of, to make progress, to make a noise, to make a bed (= to prepare the bed for sleeping on)
(b) To do good, to do evil, to do your best, to do your duty, to do someone a favour, to do wrong, to do a puzzle, to do business, to do away with, to do gymnastics, to do exercises.
Say and Tell.
Don’t say: He told, ‘I willll go home.’ He told that he’d go home.
Say: He said, ‘I will’ll go home.’ He said that he’d go home.
Use to say (1) when referring to a person’s actual words, and (2) in indirect speech if the sentence doesn’t contain an indirect object.
Note: Common idioms with say and tell:
Say a prayer. Who says? I must say! You can say that again! If you say so. Tell the truth. Tell a lie. Tell a story. Tell the time. Tell your fortune. Tell someone your name.
Shall and May. Distinguish between:
(a) May I shut the door?
and (b) Shall I shut the door?
May I shut the door? Means that I wish the door closed and I ask your permission to shut it. Shall I shut the door’? Means that I want to know whether you wish the door closed.
Shall and Will.
(a) To express simple futurity: In the first person:
Don’t say: I will go tomorrow if it’s fine.
Say: I shall go tomorrow if it’s fine.
In the second person:
Don’t say: She tells me you shall go tomorrow.
Say: She tells me you will/ ‘ll go tomorrow.
In the third person:
Don’t say: He shall go if he has permission.
Say: He will/ ‘ll go if he has permission.
(b) To express something more than simple futurity: In the first person:
Don’t say: I have determined that I shall go.
Say: I have determined that I will/ ‘ll go.
In the second person:
Don’t say: You will/ ‘ll go out if you are good.
Say: You shall go out if you are good.
In the third person:
Don’t say: My mind is made up: he will ‘ll go.
Say: My mind is made up: he shall go.
To form the simple future, use shall with the first person and will with the second and third persons. Will in the first person denotes resolution or personal determination, and shall in the second and third persons denotes either a command or a promise.
Note: Should, the past tense of shall, and would, the past tense of will, have he same differences of meaning and use as the present forms shall and will. I was afraid that I should fail, I promised that I would help him.