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__________ measures have reduced stroke occurrence among the elderly.
Both b) and c) are correct.
a) Prevent is a verb. It cannot precede the word “measures” in this sentence as “measures” is serving as the noun-subject and “have reduced” is serving as the verb phrase. The preceding blank can only be filled by one of the adjective forms of prevent.
b) Preventive and c) preventative can be used interchangeably in American English. Here both are adjectives meaning ‘protective’ or ‘designed to avert’.
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Which of these verbs is acceptable in American English?
Only b) conversate is an official word in American English, though it is non-standard in some dialects.
In standard American English, we use the following verb-noun pairs:
consult (verb) – consultation (noun)
pronounce (verb) – pronunciation (noun)
Consultate and pronunciate are not considered words.
In the following similarly-patterned word groups, there are 2 optional verb forms:
converse (verb) – conversate (verb) – conversation (noun)
orient (verb) – orientate (verb) – orientation (noun)
Though conversate and orientate are both found in the dictionary they are rarely heard in American English; converse and orient are strongly preferred. Orientate, however, is common in British English.
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He developed lung cancer from _______ smoke.
The correct answer is c) secondhand.
When used to describe products that have been previously owned by someone else, the words “used” and “secondhand” are mostly synonymous. There is no difference between used books and secondhand books, for example.
However, in the sample sentence, we are not describing smoke that has been previously owned, but rather are referring to smoke that emanates from someone else’s cigarette (as opposed to our own). In this context, secondhand is not the opposite of new. It is closer to the opposite of “firsthand” which refers to something we learned or did by hearing, seeing, or experiencing it personally.
Here are some examples:
I witnessed a car accident (firsthand).
SECONDHAND (someone else’s)
She developed lung cancer from secondhand smoke.
I bought a new car; it was made in 2021.
I bought an old car; it was made in 1945.
USED (previously owned)
I bought a used car with only 50,000 miles on the odometer.
SECONDHAND (previously owned by my cousin)
I bought a car secondhand from my cousin.
Note that there are some common collocations which reduce the use of the synonym in certain expressions. For instance, while “used books” and “secondhand books” are both standard, equivalent expressions, “used textbooks” (not “secondhand textbooks”) is the typical collocation found in college bookstores. There are also “used car” lots, but not “secondhand car” lots, whereas a thrift store may sell “secondhand shoes” but not “used shoes,” which sounds peculiar to some American ears.
We hope you enjoyed the entries in this week’s Compecs Connection.
The bookshelf is a mess! Please ________.
a) arrange it
b) make arrangements
c) order it
d) place an order
e) clean it
The correct answer is a) arrange it. To arrange something is to organize it in proper order. In English, we commonly arrange our schedules, arrange the contents of messy drawers, or arrange furniture in a room.
Be careful with expression b) make arrangements. With a definite article, the expression “to make the arrangements” simply means to prepare something necessary, such as paperwork or flight schedules. However, without the definite article, “make arrangements” is typically used to refer to funeral preparations.
c) order it means to request or command something. We can order a hamburger at a restaurant or order our children to take out the garbage. To “put something in order” means to arrange it.
d) To place an order is an expression we use most commonly when we are purchasing something in a restaurant or online. We place the order with the server and then wait for the food to be delivered to our table, or we place an order online and wait for the product to be to be delivered to our address.
e) clean it does not align with the context of the sample sentence. The sample sentence “The bookshelf is a mess” does not mean that the bookshelf is dirty and needs cleaning. It means that the books or contents on the shelf are disorganized and need to be arranged properly.
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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.
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