• Redundancy – Blue Colour

    Your brother tells you that the sky is a lovely blue colour at 10 am in the morning.
    Uh-oh! Redundancy alert. Redundancy is when you say the same thing twice.
    Instead of saying blue colour, just say blue.
    And just saying 10am is enough to get you understood.
    And here’s another tip, ‘nonchalant’ is pronounced as non-shuh-lant, not non-cha-lant, just non-shuh-lant.

  • Repeat Again

    When you didn’t catch something your friend was saying, you might say, “Could you repeat again?”
    It is redundant to say, "repeat again". Repeat already means saying something again. The same thing goes for other words like "reprint", "reuse". So just say, “could you repeat that, or reprint and reuse that.”
    And here’s another tip, envelope is pronounced as en-ver-lope, not on-ver-lope

  • Revert

    The word most often misused in the office is probably "revert".
    Every other day, we receive an email asking us to revert soon.
    "Revert" does not mean reply. It means to return to a previous state, such as ice reverting to water when it melts.
    So don’t use revert without knowing its true meaning.
    Say you will get back soon or ask them to reply soon.

  • Rise or Raise

    When used as a verb, they both have the same meaning “to move upwards”. The difference is that “rise” is a verb that doesn’t take an object while “raise” is a verb that requires an object.
    Simply put, use “rise” when referring to an object that rises by itself. For example, we would say the sun rises because it doesn’t need anyone or anything to move it upwards.
    “Raise” is just the opposite – we use it when something or someone else is needed to move something. Thus, we would say “The children raised their hands to answer the teacher’s question.”

  • Scan or Skim

    “I’m just going to quickly scan through the newspaper this morning,” says your dad. But what is he really doing?
    Dad is actually skimming through the newspapers because he’s quickly gathering information using the titles, summaries and captions found in the newspaper.
    If he were really “scanning” the newspapers, he would actively be searching for something in particular, for example, a word, phrase, picture or specific information about something or someone.
    In summary, you scan to find something specific whereas you skim to get an overview of all the information present.

  • Scared or Afraid

    There’s a sudden blackout and your friend squeezes your hand tightly and whispers “I am scared of the dark!”
    While we understand what your friend means, the grammatically correct way to express it is to say “I am afraid of the dark” or “the dark scares me”.
    This is because you can be afraid of things but not scared of things.
    We also use the word “afraid” to talk about feelings, for example, “I am afraid of spiders.” But we would say “I was scared by a spider that suddenly jumped on me.” as we would use “scared” when talking about a specific situation.

  • See or Watch

    We use our eyes for these two actions, but they have quite different meanings.
    When we “see” something, it simply means that we are looking at or have spotted something. This may be an unintentional action. For example, I saw a shiny object along the pavement on my way to school.
    On the other hand, to “watch” something means to look at it closely and intently, usually because that object is moving. For example, you would say you “watched” a movie rather than “saw” a movie because you purposefully concentrated on the moving pictures on the large screen.

  • Since or Because

    Is there a difference between "since" and "because"?
    The answer is yes.
    "Since" refers to time whereas "because" refers to a reason for something.
    For example, "Since I started work today, I have received 25 emails".
    "Because I started my new job today, I am no longer looking for employment". 

  • Sometime or Some Time

    Although they sound the same when spoken, these two phrases have different meanings.
    As one word, "sometime” is an adverb that implies some vague or unknown time in the future. For example, “Let’s have coffee sometime next week.”
    As two words, the word “some” becomes as adjective and the phrase describes a certain amount of time that’s usually long. For example, “I took some time to finish my cup of coffee because it tasted awful.”

  • Specially or Especially

    Walking pass the candy store, your friend exclaims, “I love chocolates, specially the ones with nuts inside.”
    What your friend meant to say was that she “especially” enjoys eating chocolates that have an added crunch of nuts.
    “Especially” usually means “particularly”, which in this case, your friend is especially fond of a particular type of chocolate.
    Use “specially” when referring to something done in a special, careful or specific manner. For example, “Nuts were specially added to this exclusive batch of chocolates.”

  • Stationery or Stationary

    Words that sound the same or have similar spellings can be a bit tricky as in this case of the word “stationary”, spelled with the letter A, and “stationery”, spelled with the letter E.
    When spelled with the letter A, the word means “having a fixed position” or “not moving”. When spelled with the letter E, the word refers to writing materials such as pencils, pens and paper.
    Here’s a quick tip on how to remember the different meanings of these two words.
    For “stationary” with the letter A, remember that a cAr is stationary when it is parked. For “stationery” with the letter E, remember that pEns are a type of stationery we use to write with.

  • Stay Tuned

    Sometimes, we hear people saying, “We’ll reveal more exciting details about the contest tomorrow. Stay tune!”
    The correct way to say it should be ‘stay tuned’. Stay tuned for the next newsletter or stay tuned for more.
    And here’s another tip, colleague is pronounced as kol-leag instead of ker-lick.
    Say kol-leag.

  • Stuff or Things

    “Where is that metal stuff I was using to mix the cake batter?” your mum exclaimed.
    The sentence sounds a bit strange because it would have been better to use the word “thing” instead of “stuff” in this instance.
    “Thing” is used to refer to anything you don’t want to or can’t give a specific name to. In this case, your mum forgot that she was using a whisk.
    On the other hand, “stuff” is more commonly used to describe any article, material or activity. It is usually uncountable too. For example, “I’ve got so much stuff in the kitchen that the cupboards are all full.”
    Another difference is that “stuff” can also be used as a verb. For example, “Mum stuffed the kitchen cupboards with more stuff.”

  • Summon

    "Don’t park here, or you will get a parking summon", says your friend.
    The word "summon" is usually used to refer to a parking ticket. The meaning of summon though, is a command for you to appear in court to answer a charge or bear witness.
    So, unless you are due to appear in court, the next time your friend parks illegally, it should be "don’t park here, or you will get a parking ticket". 

  • Upgrade or Improve

    There’s no doubt that our Little Red Dot is constantly upgrading.
    However, when referring to its people, the correct word to use is “improving”.
    “Improving” means to increase in capability and mental capacity by education or experience.
    On the other hand, “upgrade” is usually used when we talk about equipment, machinery or a standard. For example, we would say we upgraded a computer, upgraded a mobile phone or upgraded from an economy class seat to a business class seat.
    So the next time someone asks why you are going for a course, tell them that you’re doing so to “improve” your skills.

  • Upon or Out of

    We often hear students comparing test scores by saying “I scored 10 upon 10 of the questions correct!”
    Well, the correct way to phrase it would be “10 out of the 10 questions correct”.
    “Upon” is a more formal term for the word “on”, thus we would actually be saying “10 on 10 questions correct” which would be grammatically wrong.
    Here’s an example of how to use the word “upon” correctly: “The teacher immediately gave out the test scores upon her arrival at the classroom.”

  • Valuable or Invaluable

    These two words are used interchangeably but there are some subtle differences in their meanings.
    When something is valuable, it means that it has considerable value, usually measured in monetary terms. So, we would say that the crown jewels are so valuable that even the richest person on earth could not afford to buy them.
    If something is very important to us and cannot be considered in monetary value, then we would describe it as being invaluable. We could say that experience, friendship, contribution and insights are all things which can be considered as invaluable.

  • Whether or If

    Most of us assume that "whether" is synonymous with "if". It isn’t.
    "Whether" is used to refer to a condition where there are two or more alternatives. For example, "I don’t know whether I’ll be watching the movie tonight".
    "If" on the other hand, is used to refer to a condition where there are no alternatives. For example, "I will watch the movie tonight if he can get tickets." 

  • Which or That

    We tend to unconsciously use "which" and "that" interchangeably. However, there is a difference between these two pronouns.
    Use "that"’ when referring to a specific and restrictive noun. For example, "I only eat noodles from that stall in Chinatown."
    Use "which" when there is no reference to a specific or restrictive noun. For example, "I recommend eating noodles from stalls which are located in Chinatown."

  • Who or Whom

    ‘Who’ or ‘Whom’. Which pronoun do we use in a question?
    ‘Who’ is used when referring to the subject of a clause, while ‘whom’ is used when referring to the object of a clause. Sounds confusing?
    To make things easier, ask yourself if the answer to the question is ‘him’ or ‘he’.
    If you answer ‘him’, use ‘whom’. But if you answer ‘he’, use ‘who’.
    For example, if someone asks you about the person you like, and your answer is “I like him”, the question should be “Whom do you like?”
    But if someone wants to find out about the person who ate the chocolates, it should be “Who ate the chocolates?”, because the answer is “He ate the chocolates”.

  • Why You Never

    Have you overheard a parent nagging at a child and asking “Why you never do your homework?”
    If the child objects to this statement, he isn’t wrong because he might have done his homework in the past and the word “never” implies that he has not ever, at any time, done any form of homework before!
    Perhaps it would be better for the parent to be specific and ask, “Why have you not done yesterday's homework?”

  • With Regard To

    It is common to hear someone say “I am calling with regards to this situation.”
    "Regards" is usually used only in expressions like “Please give them my best regards.”
    So if you’re referring to something in your conversation use "with regard to".
    And here’s another tip, when in doubt, consult the dictionary. Yes, that’s daut. The "b" is silent.

  • Withdraw and Draw

    Your colleague tells you he needs to draw money from the ATM.
    If only we all have the power to "draw" money. The correct word to use should be "withdraw".
    We withdraw money from the ATM or bank, not draw.
    And here’s another tip, it’s dee-vorce, not die-vorce. 

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