English Lesson: Confusing Words Part I

Michael Uncategorized 2 Comments

Something happened yesterday with my computer. The screen froze briefly, but then it was ok. I started thinking about how convenient life can be with computers. Instead of having to memorize my friend’s phone numbers and addresses, I can store them in the computer and quickly retrieve them. It seems like children these days are learning to use computers early. I think that is a good thing.

Today, I would like to go over some sets of similar and sometimes confusing words in English. I used some of these words in the paragraph above. Have another look at it, then check today’s lesson:

Happen Vs. Happening

I’ve heard students say things like, “I had a happening today.” That is a strange sentence in English. It is better to say, “Something happened..” Here are some examples.

  • Something happened today. Not, There was a happening today
  • Something happened in school today.
  • Something happened with my computer today.

Safe Vs. Safety

Safe is an adjective and safety is a noun. Try not to mix them up:

  • Is New York a safe city? (Yes, it is!)
  • In the factory, safety is very important.

Shade Vs. Shadow

A shadow is a dark area caused by an object coming between a light and the place where the dark area is. Shade is darkness resulting from blocked sunlight.

  • In the autumn, shadows are longer because of the angle of the sun.
  • Let’s rest for a while in the shade, then continue walking.

High Tension

I have heard students say things like this. “My friend was drinking last night and he was/had high tension.” High-tension is a term used for the energy in electrical wires, like the kind of wires that carry electricity to your home. High-tension can also be used to refer to situations which cause stress. We do not use high-tension to describe people directly. For people you can use hyper to mean very active:

  • There are a lot of high-tension wires near the factory.
  • That was a high-tension meeting today. I have a headache.
  • After a few hours of drinking, Kim was pretty hyper.

Do you know anyone who gets hyper after drinking? Is your town or city safe? Feel free to leave a comment here and let us know.

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