BAD: I shall either go home to Brazil or my family will come to England.
GOOD: Either I shall go home to Brazil or my family will come to England.
BAD: We either can go by bus or by car.
GOOD: We can go either by bus or by car.
The position of either should be the same as the position of or (i.e. immediately before a subject, immediately before a main verb, immediately after a verb, etc): 'Either stay or go.' 'You should either stay or go.' 'You should stay either here or at home.' 'You should stay with either me or your uncle.'
Note that this rule applies mainly in formal styles. In everyday conversation, either often goes immediately before the main verb: 'We can either go by bus or by car.'
BAD: In fact, a motorway wouldn't either disturb the animals because they are used to cars.
GOOD: In fact, a motorway wouldn't disturb the animals either because they are used to cars.
When either is used after not/never etc, it goes at the end of the clause: 'John isn't going to the party, and Ray doesn't want to go either.'
BAD: One man is able to destroy the whole world.
GOOD: One man is capable of destroying the whole world.
If someone is able to do something, they can do it and it is not unusual or surprising if they do it: 'The doctor said that after a few days I'd be able to get out of bed.' 'Will you be able to play on Saturday?'
If someone is capable of (doing) something, they do not usually do it, but it is possible for them to do it if they want to: 'I'm sure he's quite capable of getting here on time, but he can't be bothered.' 'The power station is capable of generating enough electricity for the whole region.'
BAD: There are so many places to visit in London that I'm not able to decide where to go.
GOOD: There are so many places to visit in London that I can't decide where to go.
BAD: We weren't able to stop laughing.
GOOD: We couldn't stop laughing.
See also COULD 1 (↑could)
BAD: In some countries you are not able to drink until you are 21.
GOOD: In some countries you can't drink until you are 21.
For actions that are controlled by laws or rules, use can, can't, etc, or be (not) allowed to : 'Now that they are both sixteen, they can get married.' 'The goalkeeper can touch the ball, but nobody else can.'
BAD: Technology has made them able to grow their own food.
GOOD: Technology has enabled them to grow their own food.
enable = make someone able to do something: 'This scheme is designed to enable young people to find work.'
BAD: When they saw that I couldn't move myself, they called an ambulance.
GOOD: When they saw that I couldn't move, they called an ambulance.
BAD: If I would live in the countryside, I would be much healthier.
GOOD: If I lived in the countryside, I would be much healthier.
When you are talking about the present or the future and you imagine something that is untrue or unlikely, use the past tense ('lived') in the if clause (NOT would ): 'If I knew her address, I'd send her a postcard.' 'If I won a lot of money, I'd buy a new car.'
BAD: If you would have caught the earlier train, we could have travelled together.
GOOD: If you had caught the earlier train, we could have travelled together.
When you are talking about the past and you imagine something that is impossible, use the past perfect tense ('had caught') in the if clause (NOT would have ): 'If he hadn't got on the plane, he would still be alive.'
BAD: If you would have any more questions, I'll do my best to answer them.
GOOD: If you should have any more questions, I'll do my best to answer them.
When you are talking about the present or the future and you imagine something that is possible but unlikely, use if ... should (NOT if ... would ): 'If anyone should need me, I'll be back in half an hour.'
BAD: I was just about to enter the station when someone grabbed me by the shoulders and threw me to the floor.
GOOD: I was just about to enter the station when someone grabbed me by the shoulders and threw me to the ground.
FLOOR · GROUND · GROUNDS · LAND · TERRITORY · SOIL
The floor is the surface that you walk on when you are indoors: ‘Our cat likes to sit on the floor under my desk.’ ‘It’s about time someone cleaned the kitchen floor.’
The ground is the surface that you walk on when you are outdoors: ‘The ground was covered with snow.’ ‘In the middle of the forest was a bare patch of marshy ground.’
Grounds refers to the area surrounding and belonging to a school, hospital, hotel, stately home, etc, usually enclosed by a wall or fence: ‘Parking within the hospital grounds is strictly prohibited.’
Land refers to (1) an area of ground that is owned or used by someone, or that is controlled by a particular country: ‘All the land from here to the stream belongs to the Pattersons.’‘Disagreements about land have led to many wars.’
(2) (also the land ) the part of the Earth’s surface that is not covered by water: ‘After three days at sea, I was looking forward to being on land again.’
Territory is the area that is controlled by a particular country, army or power: ‘One of the results of losing the war was that the country had to give up almost half its territory.’ ‘They had wandered by mistake into enemy territory.’
Soil is the material in which plants and trees grow: ‘This plant needs rich soil to grow well.’
BAD: The fire started at the seventh floor.
GOOD: The fire started on the seventh floor.
BAD: Room 229 was in the second floor.
GOOD: Room 229 was on the second floor.
on the ground/first/second etc floor (NOT in/at ): 'The canteen is downstairs, on the ground floor.'
BAD: We were surprised by their peculiar behaviours.
GOOD: We were surprised by their peculiar behaviour.
BAD: Such a behaviour can easily cause offence.
GOOD: Such behaviour can easily cause offence.
Behaviour is an uncountable noun.
BAD: Sometimes Juan has a very strange behaviour.
GOOD: Sometimes Juan behaves very strangely.
GOOD: Sometimes Juan's behaviour is very strange.
BAD: There are very few people having such a behaviour.
GOOD: Very few people behave in such a way.
Instead of using have + behaviour , use behaviour + be or use the verb behave + adverb: 'His behaviour is atrocious.' 'He behaves atrociously.'
BAD: I wonder if you would be so kind to send me further details and an application form.
GOOD: I wonder if you would be so kind as to send me further details and an application form.
be kind enough to do sth : 'Would you be kind enough to forward the enclosed documents to Mr Tomkin's new address?'
be so kind as to do sth : 'I wonder if you'd be so kind as to inform your colleagues of the new arrangements.'
BAD: All the people he met were very kind with him.
GOOD: All the people he met were very kind to him.
kind to a person or animal (NOT with ): 'She's always been kind to people less fortunate than herself.'
BAD: There are many kind of job for people with qualifications.
GOOD: There are many kinds of job for people with qualifications.
GOOD: I enjoy all kind of sport.
GOOD: I enjoy all kinds of sport.
Kind, sort and type are countable nouns. After many, all, these and other plural meanings, use kinds/sorts/types (WITH-s ): 'These kinds of fruit do not grow in cold climates.'
BAD: Imprisonment is not a good way of reducing this kind of crimes.
GOOD: Imprisonment is not a good way of reducing this kind of crime.
GOOD: Imprisonment is not a good way of reducing these kinds of crime/s.
kind/sort/type of + singular form: 'this kind of envelope'
kinds/sorts/types of + singular or plural form: 'these kinds of envelope/s'
Note that after kinds/sorts/types of a plural form can sometimes sound awkward and careful users generally prefer a singular form.
BAD: Switzerland produces goods with a very high quality.
GOOD: Switzerland produces goods of a very high quality.
of (a) high/low/poor quality (NOT with ): 'Japanese electrical products tend to be of much higher quality.'
BAD: Our English teacher is called Mr John.
GOOD: Our English teacher is called Mr (John) Smith.
Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms (+ first name) + surname: 'Mrs Waters', 'Mr Clive Upton'
BAD: Dear Mr,
GOOD: Dear Sir,
BAD: Dear Mr/Mrs,
GOOD: Dear Sir/Madam,
When you are writing a formal letter and you know the surname of the addressee, begin Dear Mr Smith, Dear Mrs Jones, Dear Ms Simpson etc. When you do not know the person's surname, begin Dear Sir, Dear Madam or Dear Sir/Madam .
BAD: Dear Mr Alan Jones,
GOOD: Dear Mr Jones,
Dear is followed by Mr/Mrs/Ms + surname only (NOT first name + surname): 'Dear Mrs Jackson'
BAD: Manufacturers should dispense with all unnecessary wrapping.
GOOD: Manufacturers should dispense with all unnecessary packaging.
wrapping (also wrappings ) = paper or paper-like material that is put round something: 'I wanted to tear off the wrapping and see what was inside.'
packaging = the container or material that something is placed in by a manufacturer, especially to protect it or make it look attractive: 'Packaging should be biodegradable and kept to a minimum.'
Note that both wrapping and packaging are used in connection with food: 'Somewhere on the packaging/wrapping there should be a date stamp.'
BAD: It was twenty past four o'clock when the train arrived.
GOOD: It was twenty past four when the train arrived.
BAD: They finished their dinner at about 7.30 o'clock.
GOOD: They finished their dinner at about 7.30.
Do not use o'clock for times that include minutes or parts of an hour. Compare: 'It's four o'clock.' 'It's ten past four.'
BAD: By seven o'clock p.m. the child had been found.
GOOD: By seven p.m. the child had been found.
GOOD: By seven o'clock (in the evening) the child had been found.
Use EITHER o'clock OR a.m./p.m. (NOT both).
BAD: I start work at 9.00 o'clock.
GOOD: I start work at 9 o'clock.
Do not use o'clock after 6.00, 7.00 etc. Compare: '8 a.m.', '8.00', '8.00 a.m.', '8 o'clock'.
BAD: Going swimming is more preferable to playing football.
GOOD: Going swimming is preferable to playing football.
Do not use more with an adjective which contains the sense 'more' as part of its meaning. Preferable means 'better or more suitable': 'As far as I'm concerned, anything would be preferable to spending another night here.'
BAD: For most teenagers, living in the countryside is preferable than living in a city.
GOOD: For most teenagers, living in the countryside is preferable to living in a city.
One thing is preferable to another thing (NOT than ): 'An old computer is preferable to no computer at all.'
BAD: It took me half an hour to dress the kimono.
GOOD: It took me half an hour to put on the kimono.
GET DRESSED · DRESS ONESELF · PUT ON · TAKE OFF · DRESS · DRESS UP · WEAR · HAVE ON · BE + ADV · DRESSED
Get dressed When you get dressed you put on your clothes or a different set of clothes: ‘I had a shower, got dressed and went downstairs.’ ‘I was still getting dressed for the party when the taxi arrived.’
Dress oneself Dress oneself is not common. It is mainly used when you are thinking about the special skill or ability that is required to put on clothes: ‘Sally isn’t old enough to dress herself yet.’
Put on When you put on a piece of clothing or a watch, necklace etc, you put it into position on your body: ‘Wait a minute! I haven’t put my coat on yet.’ ‘Put your gloves on or your hands will get cold.’
Take off is the opposite of put on : ‘I can’t wait to take off these new shoes.’ ‘Why don’t you take your coat off and come and sit down?’
Dress up If you dress up you put on: (1) a special costume: ‘When the children were young, George used to dress up as Father Christmas.’
(2) formal or smart clothes: ‘We won’t be going to an expensive restaurant so there’s no need to dress up.’
Wear When you wear something, it is on a part of your body: ‘Did you notice the jacket she was wearing at Alan’s party?’ ‘He always wears smart clothes.’
Have on If you have something on , you are wearing it: ‘The trousers he had on were too big for him.’ ‘You won’t get cold as long as you have a coat on.’
Be dressed in/be in If you are dressed in or are in something, you are wearing it: ‘She arrived at the theatre dressed in a long white gown.’ ‘Everyone was in their best clothes, but Alex turned up in an old T-shirt and jeans.’
Be + adverb + dressed When you are talking about someone’s appearance, you can say that they are smartly/neatly/well etc dressed ‘Make sure you’re smartly dressed for the interview.’ ‘He’s always very well dressed – smart jackets, silk ties and so on.’
BAD: I had a shower and began to dress myself.
GOOD: I had a shower and began to get dressed.
See Language Note above
BAD: At work I have to dress a dark blue suit.
GOOD: At work I have to wear a dark blue suit.
See Language Note above
BAD: You should see the children's faces when we dress ourselves as clowns.
GOOD: You should see the children's faces when we dress up as clowns.
See Language Note above
BAD: She was dressed with a white blouse and blue skirt.
GOOD: She was dressed in a white blouse and blue skirt.
BAD: Everybody was dressed with their smartest clothes.
GOOD: Everybody was (dressed) in their smartest clothes.
See Language Note above
BAD: The cost of life is very high in London.
GOOD: The cost of living is very high in London.
BAD: During a recession, some people find it difficult to make a life.
GOOD: During a recession, some people find it difficult to make a living.
Phrases connected with the idea of money end with living (NOT life ): 'Salaries have not kept up with increases in the cost of living.' 'It's difficult to earn/make a living as an actress.' 'Acting is fun, but I wouldn't want to do it for a living.'
BAD: Television has taught me a lot about the American life.
GOOD: Television has taught me a lot about the American way of life.
DUBIOUS: This busy type of life allows us no time to sit down and relax.
GOOD: This busy lifestyle allows us no time to sit down and relax.
way of life = the way that a society, group or person chooses to live: 'I found the British way of life very strange at first.' 'The computer has transformed our whole way of life.'
lifestyle = way of life, especially that of a particular person: 'As a photographer, she has a very hectic lifestyle.'
BAD: The life in the countryside is quiet and relaxed.
GOOD: Life in the countryside is quiet and relaxed.
BAD: He didn't enjoy the life in the army at all.
GOOD: He didn't enjoy life in the army at all.
When life means 'the way of life that is connected with a particular type of situation, group or occupation', it is usually used without the : 'I found city life too stressful.' 'Life in New York is full of excitement.' 'What do you think of married life?'
BAD: He was the most attractive man that I had met in my life.
GOOD: He was the most attractive man that I had ever met.
When a superlative ('most attractive') is followed by a relative clause, use that ... ever ... (NOT that ... in my/her etc life) : 'It was the best holiday we'd ever had.' 'This is the worst film I've ever seen.'
BAD: It was one of the happiest days in my life.
GOOD: It was one of the happiest days of my life.
superlative ('happiest') + noun + of your life (NOT in ): 'She refers to her childhood as the most carefree time of her life.'
Compare: 'One of the most important things in life is good health.'
BAD: On Saturday nights there is usually life music at the club.
GOOD: On Saturday nights there is usually live music at the club.
live = heard or seen while it is actually being played or performed: 'Tonight's live concert comes from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.'
BAD: We all tried to convince her to sing.
GOOD: We all tried to persuade her to sing.
convince = make someone feel completely certain that something is true: 'Somehow the party will have to convince the voters that it is capable of governing the country.' 'She failed to convince the jury of her innocence.'
persuade = make someone agree to do something (or believe that something is true): 'Her parents have persuaded her to stop seeing him.' 'Despite our efforts to persuade them, they still haven't signed the contract.'