학술논문, 교정, 번역, 워크숍 등에 대한 문의사항이나 궁금하신 점이 있으시면
언제라도 글을 남겨주세요.
What do these sentences mean?
c) No one sat beside Jim.
d) No one sat besides Jim.
With just one letter difference in spelling, the words “beside” and “besides” are sometimes confused.
“Beside” means “next to,” so sentence a) means that no one was seated directly alongside of Jim.
In sentence b) “besides” means “apart from.” No one, apart from Jim, took a seat. In other words, Jim was the only person who was seated.
We also frequently use “besides” as a transition word at the beginning of a sentence to supply more information about the preceding sentence. We can also use “besides” in the middle of a sentence and add additional information in the subsequent clause. In these positions, “besides” means “in addition.” Note that besides is a comment adverb that typically links two clauses, not two paragraphs, so we would not normally begin a new paragraph with “besides.” Here are two examples:
I’m not going to the gym this morning because I overslept. Besides, my legs hurt from yesterday’s workout.
She was tired, and besides, her legs hurt.
When we use “beside” with a reflexive pronoun, we cannot, of course, mean that a person is positioned next to themselves, which is impossible. Using the reflexive with beside is a figurative way to express that a person is experiencing extreme emotions, usually of anxiety, grief, or joy.
After my puppy died, I was beside myself.
Upon gaining admission to SNU, she was beside herself with joy.
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What does this sentence mean?
I literally died laughing.
This expression is used when someone is telling an anecdote about something they found very humorous. Of course, the sentence doesn’t mean that the speaker actually died, as then the sentence could never have been written. Rather, it is an exaggeration that means the speaker laughed extremely hard.
Why is the word “literally” used in a sentence that is untrue?
When employed in a literal way, “literally” means that words are used in their exact sense, not exaggerated. However, when something is NOT true but we say it “literally” is, this figurative use of the word makes the exaggeration very strong. In the sample sentence, the speaker wants to emphasize that something was not just funny, but was very, very funny.
In years past, the word “virtually,” which means “almost,” would have been the modifier of choice in the above expression. However, as discussed in a previous post, the word “virtually” is diverging and is now very commonly used to mean “online.” At the same time, the word “literally” is diverging and may be taking the place of “virtually” to mean “almost.”
Some grammarians refuse to use “literally” in place of “virtually,” as it sounds like an error in word choice. Also, in formal writing, “literally” still means “in a literal sense” and should not be used in place of “virtually.” Nevertheless, the substitution in speech has become so common that this new usage has been added to the dictionary.
So remember—these days, literally doesn’t always literally mean literally. Sometimes literally means virtually.
Thanks for reading Compecs Connection. We literally wish you a wonderful day!
The harp is ________ to the piano in that they are both string instruments.
The correct answer is b) related.
Though the words look similar, relevant and related are used distinctly in American English.
Relevant means pertinent, or important to the matter at hand.
Whether the defendant was a first offender was relevant to the judge in determining the sentence.
Related means connected to, including family ties and groupings.
Surprisingly, Japanese macaques (snow monkeys) are related to the Barbary macaques of North Africa though they live 9600 kilometers apart.
After introducing the statistics on COVID-19 infections, I will discuss the related issue of the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Remember: Related information is not necessarily relevant information.
Clerk: The price of a plane ticket is related to the time of departure and the distance traveled.
Customer: I am only interested in the flight schedule; the price of the ticket is irrelevant to me.
Now try these samples:
1. Barack and Michelle Obama are _______ by marriage.
2. The data on urban population density is _______ to city planners.
If you answered 1. related and 2. relevant, congratulations on your success!
See you next time on Compecs Connection.
Female King Penguins can ________ their offspring from other penguins by sound.
The correct answer is a) distinguish (meaning “discern” or “recognize” in this sentence).
It can be very difficult to discriminate between the words distinguish and differentiate. When used in the intransitive with the meaning “to perceive a difference,” these verbs are synonymous and interchangeable:
It was hard for the child to differentiate between truth and fiction. (recognize the difference)
It was hard for the child to distinguish between truth and fiction. (recognize the difference)
However, distinctions arise when the verbs are used in their transitive senses:
By charbroiling their burgers, Burger King differentiated itself from McDonald’s. (to show a difference)
The driver could not distinguish the road from the ditch in the heavy fog. (to see a difference)
The scientists were distinguished for their work on climate change. (had notable achievements)
The scientists were differentiated by their work on climate change. (had notable differences)
He was a distinguished gentleman. (eminent; sophisticated)
*He was a differentiated gentleman. (no meaning)
In the sample sentence:
Female King Penguins can distinguish their offspring by sound. (unconsciously recognize)
*Female King Penguins can differentiate their offspring by sound. (consciously discriminate, an act we don’t usually attribute to penguins)
One final note: In general, differentiate sounds slightly more technical in nature than distinguish, perhaps because we use the term with technical meanings in mathematics and medicine.
We hope this post helps you to both distinguish and differentiate these confusing words.
My friend said she’ll “prolly” go. What does “prolly” mean?
c) Politely (as a courtesy)
The correct answer is b) probably.
In American English, “prolly” is considered by most to be merely an informal, shortened form of “probably” but not an official word (just as “wanna” is an abbreviation of “want to”). It means “likely” and is used in affirmative sentences or as a standalone word, but not in questions or negatives.
Because “prolly” is only a pronunciation variant of the word “probably,” it was heard but not typically seen in American writing until recently. These days, however, texting has made the use of abbreviations more commonplace in writing, and “prolly” is popping up here and there. In formal writing in American English, the word should still be written out in full as “probably."
Which answer is INCORRECT?
_______ participants completed consent forms.
Have you ever wondered whether it’s better to use “first” or “firstly” for a sequence of steps? Also, is the comma necessary in this sentence?
FIRST, SECOND, THIRD versus FIRSTLY, SECONDLY, THIRDLY
Many adjectives can be converted to adverbs by adding -ly (e.g., fortunate-ly, bad-ly); thus, we generally think of words that end in -ly as being adverbs. However, there are also many adjectives that end in -ly (e.g., friendly, costly) as well as many adverbs in English that DON’T end in -ly (e.g., fast, well).
Some words, such as “first,” “second,” and “third” can serve as BOTH adjectives and adverbs.
He was the first person to arrive. (adjective)
Do your homework first. (adverb)
In English, the adverbs “first,” “second,” and “third” are commonly used to denote a sequence of events, but in some dialects, “firstly,” “secondly,” and “thirdly” are utilized. To some Americans, the addition of -ly sounds like an overcorrection. They may wonder, “Why use firstly when you can just say first?”
IS THE COMMA NECESSARY?
At the beginning of a sentence that describes a sequence of events, the comma is essential. Therefore, b) First, and d) Firstly, are both correct.
Without the comma, only an adjective describing the word “participants” can fill the blank. The word “firstly” cannot be an adjective, so c) is incorrect.
While a) “first” can serve as an adjective, the meaning of the sentence would change. Instead of a sequence, we would read the first two words as a noun clause “first participants.” “First participants completed consent forms” means that ONLY the first participants completed consent forms, and subsequent participants did not.
We hope you enjoy Compecs Connection and turn to Compecs first for your editing needs!
The doctor delivered the difficult news with _______.
The correct answer is a) tact.
To handle a situation with tact means to operate with sensitivity so as not to offend another person. For instance, we should use tact when admonishing an employee or when correcting someone in front of a group.
b) contact is not contextually correct. In this sentence, “with contact” would be interpreted to mean physically, but medical diagnoses are delivered orally, not with physical contact, so the sentence doesn’t make sense.
American football is a contact sport. Players routinely tackle each other to take the ball.
c) untact is incorrect because it is not a recognized word in English. During the Covid-19 pandemic, this expression seems to have been coined in Korea to mean physical distancing, perhaps with the intended meaning being the opposite of contact. However, in American English, the opposite of contact is “noncontact” or “no contact”.
Tennis is a noncontact sport.
Please social distance. There should be no physical contact among employees.
The expression “untact” is further confusing because the words “untactful” and “untactfully” already exist in American English. “Untactful” is the opposite of “tactful” and means “indelicate when dealing with others.”
The boss was untactful when he yelled at the secretary for coming in late, but she tactfully reminded him that she had a morning doctor’s appointment and her tardiness had been pre-approved the week before.
We hope you don’t find yourself in any untactful situations. See you next time at COMPECS Connection.