Monday, May 5, 2014

What is the least you should know? - Spelling

English - What we should all know

(We're bringing back the LEAST YOU SHOULD KNOW series. It received a great response.)

A lot has been said about the English language. Tomes have been written. Hands down, English is a complicated language to learn.

For the next few sessions, we're going to go through the topics necessary for us to learn the the least we should know about English and still help us write acceptably.

a, an Use an before a before that begins a vowel sound (a, e, i, o, plus u when the sound is uh). An apple, an essay, an icicle, an heir (silent h), an honest man (silent h), an umbrella, an umpire, an ulcer (All the u's sound like uh).

Use a before a word that begins with a consonant sound. (all the sounds except the vowels) plus u or eu when the sound is yu.

accept, except Accept is a verb and means "to receive willingly." I accept your gift. (receive it willingly).
Except means "excluding" or "but". Everyone came except him. (but him)

advice, advise Advise is a verb. Use advice when it's not a verb. Pronounce these words correctly, remembering that the s sounds like a z and you won't confuse them.
I advise you to go.
I don't need any advice.

affect, effect Affect is a verb and means "to influence."
The lack of rain affected the crops.
Effect means "result". It a, an , or the is in front of the word, then you'll know it isn't a verb and will use effect.
The lack of rain had a bad effect on the crops.

all ready, already If you can leave out the all and the sentence still makes sense, then all ready is the form to use. (In that form, all is a separate word and could be left out.)
I'm all ready to go. (I'm ready to go makes sense.)
Dinner is all ready. (Dinner is ready makes sense.)
But, if you can't leave out the all and still have the sentence make sense, then use already (the forum in which the al has to stay in the word.
I'm already late. (I'm ready late doesn't make sense.)

are, or, our Are is a verb. Or is used between two possibilities, "as tea or coffee" Our shows we possess something.
We are studying English.
Take it or leave it.
Our class meets at eight.

brake, break Brake means "to slow or stop motion." It's also the name of the device that slows or stops motion.
You brake to avoid an accident.
You slam on your brakes.
Break means to "to shatter" or "to split." It's also the name of an interruption, as " a coffee break"
You break a dish or an engagement or a track record.
You enjoy your Thanksgiving break.

And, on that note, I hope come back rested and ready to learn more ab out the least you should know about English.

-- Your Writing Coach

Image credit: spaxia / 123RF Stock Photo

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