BAD: Honestly, we didn't play very well in the final.
GOOD: To be honest, we didn't play very well in the final.
BAD: Honestly, I don't really like her husband.
GOOD: To tell you the truth, I don't really like her husband.
Use honestly when you want someone to believe that what you are saying is really true: 'I honestly don't mind where we go, as long as we go somewhere.' 'I was going to give it back to you, honestly.'
To show someone that you are about to tell them your own true feelings about something (especially feelings that you usually keep secret), use to be honest (with you), in all honesty, to tell (you) the truth, (quite) frankly or to be frank : 'In all honesty, I'll be glad when the children are back at school.' 'To tell you the truth, I don't think that the marriage will last long.'
BAD: I honestly say that I haven't seen anyone work so hard.
GOOD: I can honestly say that I haven't seen anyone work so hard.
I can honestly say (WITH can ): 'I can honestly say this is the worst film I've ever seen.'
DUBIOUS: Taking all the above into account, one could say that tourism does more harm than good.
GOOD: Taking all the above arguments into account, one could say that tourism does more harm than good.
Instead of using the above as a loose reference to something mentioned earlier, make the reference more precise by using the above + noun (or the + noun + above ): 'the above reasons', 'the statement above '.
BAD: He likes reading, above all novels.
GOOD: He likes reading, especially novels.
Above all means 'most importantly': 'Get plenty of sleep, eat lots of good food, and above all try to relax.' 'There were many qualities that made him a great leader. Above all, he had charisma.'
BAD: There were above a hundred people in the crowd.
GOOD: There were over a hundred people in the crowd.
Do not use above with numbers (unless referring to points on a scale): 'He is over eighty years of age.' 'I receive over twenty letters a day.' Compare 'Don't let the temperature get above thirty degrees.'
BAD: This year English is above all my most important subject.
GOOD: This year English is by far my most important subject.
With a superlative form ('the most important'), use by far : 'The riot was by far the most horrific scene I'd ever witnessed.'
DUBIOUS: I like to stay at home on a Sunday, as I've said above.
GOOD: I like to stay at home on a Sunday, as I've already said.
DUBIOUS: What do you think of the above suggestion?
GOOD: What do you think of my/this suggestion?
Above is used in formal writing to refer to something that has been mentioned earlier: 'From the above arguments it can be seen that supporters of the dam project fall into two camps.' In informal styles, this use of above is inappropriate.
BAD: Where would you like to go above all?
GOOD: Where would you like to go most of all?
When you mean 'more than anywhere/anything/anyone else', use most of all or the most : 'What worries me most of all is that the car is not roadworthy.' 'The one I liked the most was too expensive.'
BAD: The history of the town dates back to the Middle Age.
GOOD: The history of the town dates back to the Middle Ages.
middle age = the period in a person's life between youth and old age: 'People who live this type of life are lucky if they reach middle age.'
Middle Ages = the period in European history from about 1100 to 1500 AD: 'Life in the Middle Ages was very simple.'
BAD: Although I enjoyed my stay in the USA, but I was still glad to come home.
GOOD: Although I enjoyed my stay in the USA, I was still glad to come home.
GOOD: I enjoyed my stay in the USA, but I was still glad to come home.
If the first clause begins with although or (even) though, do not begin the second clause with but or yet .
See also SO 2 (↑so)
BAD: It is two months now that I left Germany.
GOOD: It is two months now since I left Germany.
a week/two months etc + since something happened (NOT that ): 'It's almost two years since I started my PhD.'
BAD: I was shocked by the sight that I could hardly speak.
GOOD: I was so shocked by the sight that I could hardly speak.
so + adjective/adverb + that clause: 'I'm so tired that I can't keep awake.' 'He spoke so quickly that nobody could understand him.'
BAD: He closed the door quietly that nobody would hear him.
GOOD: He closed the door quietly so that nobody would hear him.
Use so that to express purpose (NOT that ): 'The burglars turned off all the lights so that they wouldn't be seen.'
BAD: Children are not as easy to please nowadays that they were in the past.
GOOD: Children are not as easy to please nowadays as they were in the past.
When making a comparison, use as/so ... as (NOT as/so ... that ): 'It's as hard to get into university today as it was ten years ago.'
BAD: It worried me that the letter had not arrived, especially that it had never happened before.
GOOD: It worried me that the letter had not arrived, especially since/as it had never happened before.
When giving a reason for something, use since or as (NOT that ): 'Instead of cooking, why don't we get a take-away, especially as it's so late.'
BAD: The weather has been very good, except for two days that it rained.
GOOD: The weather has been very good, except for two days when it rained.
When the meaning is 'at/on/in/during which' (referring to time), use when (NOT that ): 'These are the times when Dr Roberts will be able to see you.'
Compare: 'I shall always remember the two days that I spent in Paris.'
BAD: Sitting next to me was an old lady, that seemed to be sound asleep.
GOOD: Sitting next to me was an old lady, who seemed to be sound asleep.
That is used to introduce an identifying relative clause (one which identifies, defines, or restricts the preceding noun): 'The woman that is sitting behind us is Tom's music teacher.' 'The man that I marry will have lots of money.'
That is not used to introduce a non-identifying relative clause (one which simply adds more information about the noun).
BAD: If you haven't sent it yet, I'd be pleased if you would do that as soon as possible.
GOOD: If you haven't sent it yet, I'd be pleased if you would do so as soon as possible.
To make a precise reference to a previously mentioned action, use do so (NOT do that ): 'I asked him politely to take his feet off the seat but he refused to do so.'
BAD: I utterly hope you won't be angry with me.
GOOD: I sincerely hope you won't be angry with me.
BAD: I have to make sure that our customers are utterly satisfied.
GOOD: I have to make sure that our customers are completely satisfied.
Utterly is usually used with words that have a negative meaning or express strong disapproval such as (adjectives) ridiculous, absurd, irrelevant, useless, wrong, impossible, (adjectival participles) confused, amazed, dejected, ruined, (verbs) reject, detest, destroy : 'This new tin opener is utterly useless.' 'The whole idea is utterly absurd.' 'I'm utterly amazed.' 'The entire building was utterly destroyed.'
BAD: As far as I concern, the cost of the repair is not my responsibility.
GOOD: As far as I'm concerned, the cost of the repair is not my responsibility.
as far as sb/sth is concerned : 'As far as my parents are concerned, I'm free to come whenever I like.' 'As far as the law is concerned, you are innocent until proven guilty.' 'As far as your grammar is concerned, you seem to be having a problem with tenses.'
BAD: You should concern more about your health.
GOOD: You should be more concerned about your health.
BAD: There are far more serious things to concern about.
GOOD: There are far more serious things to be concerned about.
be concerned about sth (= be worried or anxious): 'The government is becoming increasingly concerned about the rising level of unemployment.' 'The manager is naturally very concerned about the recent spate of injuries.'
BAD: The first chapter is concerned about the disposal of nuclear waste.
GOOD: The first chapter is concerned with the disposal of nuclear waste.
GOOD: The first chapter concerns the disposal of nuclear waste.
be concerned with sth OR concern sth = (of a book, film, essay etc) be about a particular subject: 'The article is concerned with recent developments in primary education.'
BAD: Some dentists are more concerned in earning money than doing a good job.
GOOD: Some dentists are more concerned with earning money than doing a good job.
be concerned with (doing ) sth = be interested in: 'We should be more concerned with re-educating criminals than punishing them.'
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: 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: I daren't to ask her for any more money.
GOOD: I daren't ask her for any more money.
daren't do sth (WITHOUT to ): 'I daren't tell George what happened or he'll be furious.'
Compare: 'I don't dare tell/to tell George what happened ... .'
BAD: The accident happened at ten years ago.
GOOD: The accident happened ten years ago.
BAD: I came to England in two years ago.
GOOD: I came to England two years ago.
BAD: He went to Sydney before five years ago.
GOOD: He went to Sydney five years ago.
BAD: I started learning English since two years ago.
GOOD: I started learning English two years ago.
BAD: I'm writing in reply to your letter that I've received two days ago.
GOOD: I'm writing in reply to your letter that I received two days ago.
With references to past time such as yesterday, last week, a year ago , use a past tense (NOT the present perfect): 'I came to England exactly six months ago.' (NOT 'have come')
BAD: The train left at exactly 3 o'clock. Just five minutes ago I had been stuck in a traffic jam.
GOOD: The train left at exactly 3 o'clock. Just five minutes before I had been stuck in a traffic jam.
See note at BEFORE 1 (↑before)
BAD: After lunch we went for sightseeing.
GOOD: After lunch we went sightseeing.
BAD: They wanted me to take them for sightseeing.
GOOD: They wanted me to take them sightseeing.
go sightseeing, take sb sightseeing, etc (WITHOUT for ): 'Today we're just relaxing by the pool and tomorrow we're going sightseeing.'
BAD: We're going to do a sightseeing tomorrow.
GOOD: We're going (to do some) sightseeing tomorrow.
Sightseeing is an uncountable noun: 'Some people aren't interested in sightseeing.'
BAD: We visited all the famous sightseeing places.
GOOD: We saw all the famous sights.
BAD: Nagasaki is famous for its sightseeing spots.
GOOD: Nagasaki is famous for its tourist attractions.
To refer to places that tourists like to visit, use sights (plural) or tourist attraction/spot (NOT sightseeing place/spot ): 'I've always wanted to see the sights of London.'
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: I don't agree the people who say women should stay at home.
GOOD: I don't agree with the people who say women should stay at home.
BAD: In many ways I agree to his statement.
GOOD: In many ways I agree with his statement.
agree with sb/sth = have the same opinion as: 'You can't expect everyone to agree with you all the time.' 'I tend to agree with you that the proposal is too risky.'
BAD: I don't understand why he doesn't agree the divorce.
GOOD: I don't understand why he doesn't agree to the divorce.
BAD: Conservationists will never agree the building of the motorway.
GOOD: Conservationists will never agree to the building of the motorway.
agree to sth = be willing to accept or allow something: 'The bank manager has agreed to our request for a loan.'
BAD: I am agree that archaeological treasures should be protected.
GOOD: I agree that archaeological treasures should be protected.
BAD: In some ways I am agree with those who want stricter punishments.
GOOD: In some ways I agree with those who want stricter punishments.
Agree is a verb (NOT an adjective).
See FACT 4 (↑fact)
BAD: Inside the examination room we could neither smoke or talk.
GOOD: Inside the examination room we could neither smoke nor talk.
BAD: His parents neither shouted at him or smacked him.
GOOD: His parents neither shouted at him nor smacked him.
neither ... nor ... (NOT neither ... or ... ): 'The sales assistant was neither friendly nor helpful.'
Compare: 'You can either come with me or wait here.'
BAD: I have neither studied the language nor the culture.
GOOD: I have studied neither the language nor the culture.
Neither should be placed immediately before the first of the connected items and nor immediately before the second. Compare: 'I have neither studied nor experienced the culture.'
BAD: Neither John's father nor mine couldn't understand the problem.
GOOD: Neither John's father nor mine could understand the problem.
After neither and neither ... nor ... the verb is affirmative (NOT negative): 'Neither applicant had the right qualifications.' 'Neither the teachers nor the students had been informed.'
BAD: Neither teachers are coming.
GOOD: Neither teacher is coming.
GOOD: Neither of the teachers is coming.
After neither + singular noun, the verb is singular: 'Neither player wants a transfer.'
After neither of + plural noun, careful users prefer a singular verb: 'Neither of the players wants a transfer.' Some people use a plural verb, especially in informal styles: 'Neither of the players want a transfer.'