BAD: As usually, he arrived five minutes late.
GOOD: As usual, he arrived five minutes late.
BAD: The food wasn't the same as usually.
GOOD: The food wasn't the same as usual.
as usual (NOT as usually ): 'John's late as usual.' 'As usual, everyone was out in the garden when I arrived.'
the same as usual (NOT ... as usually ): 'Apart from his hair, he looked the same as usual.'
BAD: Whenever I doubt about the meaning of a word, I look in my dictionary.
GOOD: Whenever I am in doubt about the meaning of a word, I look in my dictionary.
BAD: If ever you have any kind of doubt, come and see me or one of the other teachers.
GOOD: If ever you are in any doubt about anything, come and see me or one of the other teachers.
(be) in doubt about sth (= feel unsure): 'Is anyone in doubt about what they're supposed to be doing?' 'If you're in any doubt about your child's safety, talk to your doctor.'
Note that this meaning is more commonly expressed by be unsure/uncertain (or not be sure/certain ): 'Whenever I'm not sure about the meaning of a word, I look in my dictionary.'
BAD: That is why we still doubt about beings existing in outer space.
GOOD: That is why we still have doubts about beings existing in outer space.
have (your) doubts about (doing ) sth = feel unsure whether something is true or the right thing to do: 'We have our doubts about sending Kevin to a boarding school.' 'Any doubts she'd had about marrying him soon disappeared.'
DUBIOUS: I doubt that she is telling the truth.
GOOD: I doubt whether she is telling the truth.
When doubt is used to express certainty or near certainty, it is usually followed by a that -clause: 'There's no doubt that he's innocent.' 'I've no doubt that he's innocent.' 'I'm in little doubt that he's innocent.' 'I don't doubt that he's innocent.' In this meaning, doubt is used with a negative word, e.g. not/no/little/not much.
When doubt means 'think that something is unlikely', it is usually followed by if/whether : 'I doubt whether he's innocent.' (= I think that he is probably guilty) 'She doubts whether she'll be able to come on Sunday.'
Note that some people may also say 'I doubt that he's innocent', but careful users regard this as incorrect.
DUBIOUS: There is no doubt that she doesn't want the job.
GOOD: She obviously doesn't want the job.
DUBIOUS: There is no doubt that most parents are willing to spend a lot of money on their child's education.
GOOD: Most parents are willing to spend a lot of money on their child's education.
There is no doubt that is usually used in formal styles when you want to persuade someone that what you are saying is true: 'There is no doubt that the present government has lost a great deal of support.'
This phrase is sometimes used when a 'lighter' expression (e.g. of course, obviously, clearly, certainly, needless to say ) or nothing at all would be more natural.
BAD: It is no doubt that the rich have a great advantage.
GOOD: There is no doubt that the rich have a great advantage.
there is no doubt that (NOT it is ... ): 'There is no doubt that the number of casualties would have escalated had it not been for UN intervention.'
BAD: Without doubt you're tired after your journey.
GOOD: No doubt you're tired after your journey.
BAD: The recovery of the Mary Rose is, no doubt, a great scientific achievement.
GOOD: The recovery of the Mary Rose is, without doubt, a great scientific achievement.
without doubt = 'I firmly believe this to be true': 'He is without doubt one of the greatest composers the world has ever known.'
no doubt = 'I expect' or 'I suppose': 'No doubt you could do with a drink.' 'They will no doubt be writing to us again.'
BAD: Another reason for getting married is without doubt to have children.
GOOD: Another reason for getting married of course is to have children.
Use without doubt with opinions and judgements: 'She is without doubt one of the kindest women you'll ever meet.'
When you mention a fact or something that is generally agreed, use of course : 'Mrs Thatcher is no longer in charge, of course.'
DO · HAVE · MAKE · TAKE
Many phrases begin with a very common very such as do, make, have, or take : ‘I felt very nervous about taking the test but, after having a long talk with Mrs Fisher, I decided I would just do my best and try not to make too many silly mistakes .’ These verbs can be combined with some nouns but not with others and since they do not have a clear meaning of their own, choosing the right combination can be a problem. Phrases which tend to cause difficulty are shown below.
have a bath (or esp. AmE take ) ‘She’s probably upstairs having a bath.’
Have (your) breakfast ‘We usually have breakfast in the kitchen.’
Have (your) dinner ‘We had dinner and then went for a walk.’
Have a drink ‘I’ll collapse if I don’t have a drink soon.’
Have (an) experience ‘He has no experience of running a large company.’
Have fun ‘You can’t stop people from having fun.’
Have a holiday ‘It’s almost a year since we had a real holiday.’
Have an interview ‘I’ve had six interviews but no one has offered me a job.’
Have a lesson ‘Every morning we have three fifty-minute lessons.’
Have (your) lunch ‘Isn’t it about time we had lunch?’
Have an operation ‘Before I had the operation I could hardly walk.’
Have a party ‘On Saturday we’re having a party.’
Have a picnic ‘If it’s sunny we could have a picnic.’
Have a shower (or esp. AmE take) ‘It only takes me a minute to have a shower.’
Take/do an examination ‘Why do we have to take so many tests?’
Take (your) medicine ‘Don’t forget to take your medicine.’
Take a pill ‘He refuses to take sleeping pills.’
Take/do a test ‘The last test I took was a disaster.’
Make an effort ‘I had to make a big effort not to laugh.’
Make a journey ‘It was the first journey he’d made all on his own.’
Make a mistake ‘He has made a serious mistake.’
Make a noise ‘How can one small child make so much noise?’
Make progress ‘I made very little progress at the start of the course.’
Do your best ‘Don’t worry, Tim. Just do your best.’
Do (or cause) damage ‘The storm did a lot of damage to the crops.’
Do an exercise ‘Have you done your exercises today?’
Do an experiment ‘To do this experiment, you’ll need two eggs.’
Do (sb) good ‘The holiday has done him a lot of good.’
Do harm ‘A scandal would do his reputation a lot of harm.’
Do your homework ‘Have you done your homework yet?’
Do a job ‘I’ve got one or two jobs to do this evening.’
Do the/some shopping ‘Jake has gone into town to do some shopping.’
Do research ‘We need to do a lot more research.’
Do things ‘We’ve done lots of different things today.’
Do your training ‘Where did you do your training?’
Note also: do something/anything etc: ‘I can’t come now – I’m doing something.’ ‘He hasn’t done anything wrong.'
See THAT 3 (↑that)
BAD: I would be grateful if you would send it to the address above-
GOOD: I would be grateful if you would send it to the above-mentioned address.
Above-mentioned comes before the noun: 'the above-mentioned person', 'the above-mentioned company'.
Note that above may be used before or after the noun: 'the above address', 'the address above'.
BAD: On a beautiful day like today it's no use staying at home.
GOOD: On a beautiful day like today there's no point in staying at home.
BAD: It's no use having lessons if you don't want to learn.
GOOD: There's no point in having lessons if you don't want to learn.
Use it's no use/good doing sth when you mean that a particular action will not help to deal with a need or difficulty: 'For spellings, it's no use looking in a grammar book. What you need is a dictionary.'
When you mean that something has no useful purpose, use there's no point in doing sth : 'There's no point in having a dictionary if you never use it.'
BAD: There's no use in waiting any longer.
GOOD: There's no point in waiting any longer.
it's no use ... (NOT there ): 'It's no use complaining.'
there's no point ... (NOT it ) 'There's no point in getting upset.'
BAD: The meals we use to eat are very simple.
GOOD: The meals we (usually) eat are very simple.
BAD: When I'm not busy, I use to play the guitar.
GOOD: When I'm not busy, I (usually) play the guitar.
When you are talking about a present habit, use the present simple tense (NOT use to do ): 'I (usually) have two cups of coffee at breakfast.'
BAD: In my previous job I use to travel a lot.
GOOD: In my previous job I used to travel a lot.
When you are talking about a past habit, use used to do sth (with silent d ): 'Before I had the accident I used to cycle to work.'
BAD: It took me a long time to get use to the local accent.
GOOD: It took me a long time to get used to the local accent.
be/get used to (doing) sth (with silent d ) = be in or get into the habit of doing/hearing/seeing etc something, so that it no longer seems strange or difficult: 'Being a city girl, she wasn't used to sitting on a horse.' 'I didn't like the taste of the water at first, but I'm getting used to it.'
BAD: She began to think she was becoming mad.
GOOD: She began to think she was going mad.
go mad (NOT become ) =: 'Eventually, rejected by Hamlet, Ophelia goes mad and drowns herself.'
BAD: I've always been mad for tennis.
GOOD: I've always been mad about tennis.
be mad/crazy about sth (NOT for ) = (informal) like something very much: 'Why are so many people crazy about computer games?'
BAD: I'm sure that once you see Venice, you'll love it very much.
GOOD: I'm sure that once you see Venice, you'll love it.
love sb (very much ): 'I love him very much.'
love sth (WITHOUT very much ): 'I love tennis.'
BAD: I tried hardly to remember where I had parked the car.
GOOD: I tried hard to remember where I had parked the car.
BAD: It was raining hardly and we all got wet.
GOOD: It was raining hard and we all got wet.
BAD: Society shouldn't punish these people too hardly.
GOOD: Society shouldn't punish these people too hard/severely.
hardly = scarcely; almost not: 'It was hardly raining at all.' 'I could hardly believe my eyes.'
hard = (1) with a lot of effort: 'If you work hard, you're bound to pass.' (2) heavily or severely: 'The authorities are coming down hard on tax evasion.' Before a past participle, use severely for this meaning: 'If they are caught, they will be severely punished.'
BAD: It was so dark that we hardly could see.
GOOD: It was so dark that we could hardly see.
BAD: There were hardly no trees left, just bare rocky land.
GOOD: There were hardly any trees left, just bare rocky land.
BAD: When we arrived at the hotel, we couldn't hardly believe our eyes.
GOOD: When we arrived at the hotel, we could hardly believe our eyes.
BAD: Despite the train was empty, he came and sat in front of me.
GOOD: Although the train was empty, he came and sat in front of me.
GOOD: Despite the train being empty, he came and sat in front of me.
Despite and in spite of are prepositions (NOT conjunctions). Unlike although (a conjunction), they cannot introduce a clause that has a finite verb ('was'). Compare: 'In spite of/Despite owning two cars, he can't drive.' 'Although he owns two cars, he can't drive.'
BAD: Despite of my qualifications, I couldn't get a job.
GOOD: Despite my qualifications, I couldn't get a job.
GOOD: In spite of my qualifications, I couldn't get a job.
despite sth (WITHOUT of ): 'Despite the heat, she wouldn't take her coat off.'
in spite of sth (WITH of ): 'In spite of the heat, she wouldn't take her coat off.'
BAD: I've applied a one-year course in computer studies.
GOOD: I've applied for a one-year course in computer studies.
BAD: I don't have enough experience to apply to the job.
GOOD: I don't have enough experience to apply for the job.
apply (to an organization) for a job, course, scholarship, etc.: 'She has applied for the post of Senior Lecturer.'
BAD: The new tax law applies only on people with large incomes.
GOOD: The new tax law applies only to people with large incomes.
apply to sb/sth (= be aimed at): 'The club's rules and regulations apply to all members.'
BAD: Dear Mary ... Yours faithfully ...
GOOD: Dear Mary ... Yours/With love/With best wishes ...
BAD: Dear John, ... Yours sincerely ...
GOOD: Dear John, ... Yours/With love/With best wishes ...
Yours faithfully and Yours sincerely are used only in formal letters.
At the end of a letter to a friend or relative, use Yours, With love, With best wishes, etc.
BAD: Dear Sir, ... Yours,
GOOD: Dear Sir, ... Yours faithfully,
When a formal letter begins with Dear Sir or Dear Madam , it usually ends with Yours faithfully .
BAD: He left the house at five in the morning, when the family was yet asleep.
GOOD: He left the house at five in the morning, when the family was still asleep.
BAD: I've only been here two weeks and everything is strange yet.
GOOD: I've only been here two weeks and everything is still strange.
Yet means 'up to the moment of speaking' and is used mainly in questions and negative sentences: 'Do you feel any better yet?' 'The post office isn't open yet.'
When you want to say that an earlier state or situation has not changed, use still : 'I've taken the medicine but I still feel terrible.' 'Does Hilary still go to the same school?'
BAD: I didn't finish my thesis yet.
GOOD: I haven't finished my thesis yet.
Yet (= up to the moment of speaking) is usually used with the present or present perfect tense (NOT the past tense): 'Has the taxi arrived yet?' 'Is the taxi here yet?'
See note at BUT (↑but)
BAD: More houses are built yearly.
GOOD: More houses are built every year.
BAD: Thousands of people die from cancer yearly.
GOOD: Thousands of people die from cancer every year.
Yearly usually means that something is done or takes place once a year: 'The interest is paid yearly or, if you prefer, every six months.' 'The front of the house was getting its yearly coat of white paint.'
Yearly is also used to connect a total number or amount with a period of one year: 'We were manufacturing and selling about 20,000 tonnes yearly.' 'The yearly catch rose to a peak of 52,000 tonnes.'
When you simply want to say that something happens 'all the time', use every year or each year (NOT yearly ): 'The country's tourist industry is growing every year.'
BAD: I've been playing the piano since I was seven years.
GOOD: I've been playing the piano since I was seven.
GOOD: I've been playing the piano since I was seven years old.
GOOD: I've been playing the piano since I was seven years of age.
When stating someone's age, use just a number on its own OR a number + years old/years of age (NOT years ): 'I'm almost eighteen.' 'My sister is fifteen years old.'
BAD: Robert was a little boy of ten years.
GOOD: Robert was a little boy of ten.
a boy/girl/son etc + of + number (WITHOUT years ): 'a child of six', 'a man of fifty'
See AGE 2 (↑age), 6, 7
See OLD 1 (↑old), 2
See RECENT (↑recent)
BAD: The belief that Spanish is easy to learn is wrong.
GOOD: The belief that Spanish is easy to learn is mistaken.
To describe a belief or idea that is wrong although people do not know it is wrong, use mistaken : 'Some people have the mistaken idea that cats need to drink milk.' 'I'm afraid you must be mistaken.'