Friday, November 30, 2007

It's Video!!

Chris attended a lecture the other day and noted two mispronunciations of the word, video. It seems that some Filipinos, even highly-educated ones, don't know how to pronounce this word.
He said that there were speakers who pronounced the word as "beedio." This is actually the most common Pinoy way of saying the word. I think it stems from the Filipino problems with the "b" and "i" sounds, which I've blogged about before.

The second way Chris heard the word mispronounced is one I've not heard ever: one of the major speakers said "veedeio." The explanation for this I can think of is that perhaps the speaker had not been exposed to the correct pronunciation of the word, which is why he thought it was pronounced with separate "e" and "o" sounds.

Here's the correct way of saying "video."

I hope all is well with everyone and that no one got caught in the mess in Makati yesterday.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Conducive for What?

I've heard people describe certain places as "conducive." Let's say they're talking about their study areas and they say, "My study area is conducive." Much as I admire the use of vocabulary, we never just describe something as "conducive."

The word conducive means "ideal for a certain situation." As such, it doesn't work as an adjective on it's own. For the word to make sense, it has to be attached to the situation it is describing. If you say, "My study area is conducive," the meaning of your sentence is unclear because you didn't say what your study area is conducive for or why your study area is conducive. The correct way of using the word would be, "My study area is conducive for working silently." Or, you can use the word to say something negative, "My study area is not conducive for work because I share it with my younger brother who always makes a lot of noise."

This rainy weather is conducive for sleep.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Farther and Further

Wow, it's been three days since my last post! Once again, I've been swamped and my job sometimes requires that I work through the weekend. The good news is, I've been collecting more topics to blog about. Here's the first one:

Yesterday, right before taking a u-turn in a really crowded road, I suggested to my husband Chris that he make the u-turn a little farther down the road as the u-turn slot we were at was so crowded. I then realized that I had to blog about the word "farther" and its difference from "further."

"Farther" and "further," despite only a difference of one vowel, mean two different things. We use "farther" when we're talking about physical distance. For example, although we can get to both Megamall and Shangri-la from Edsa, Shangri-la is farther down Edsa than Megamall if you're coming from Cubao. So, if you're close to a crowded u-turn slot, you might want to take the u-turn slot farther down the road which is less crowded.

"Further," on the other hand, has something to do with thoughts and ideas. You take an idea further if you want to discuss it some more or think of its consequences. For instance, if I want to take this blog further, I will probably consider making it more interactive with quizzes and games and all.

Maybe I should take this blog further?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Being Fond of Someone and Being In Love

A heard a student a couple of days ago saying, "I am in fond of him." This is clearly incorrect as there is no such expression as "in fond of." Instead, we say, "I am fond of him/her/that." Obviously, the mix-up comes from the expression, "I am in love with him/her/that."

Why is it that we say "fond of" and "in love with?" Honestly, I don't know. This is a question of usage or convention more than anything. I'd like to think of this question in terms of images: when we're in love, we're really into a person. We're crazy about the person we're in love with! We're into his face, hands, hobbies, fears, passions, etc. The image I get is someone who is all over another person, holding him, hugging him, kissing him. People in love almost want to absorb the person they love! This is different from when we're fond of something.

When we're fond of something or someone, we like that person or thing very strongly, like the way we like and love a best friend or a favorite toy. Still, we are not into that person or thing. For example, we may know our best friends well but we don't know them as well as we know our spouses or partners.

Hence, we fall in love with a partner and we are fond of a friend (unless you start falling in love with your friend).

Friday, November 23, 2007

It's "Nurse!"

I don't know why I keep encountering this pronunciation error. When I come in contact with Filipina nurses trying to work abroad, many of them say, "I am a nurst." I always wonder where the "t" sound is coming from as it's obvious that the word ends with an "s" and not a "t."

Anyone care to offer a theory about why this error happens?

Sometimes, I think it's the stress. Nurses have to cope with so much in order to work abroad that some mistakes are liable to be made along the way.

It's not "nurst," it's "nurse!"

I hope nurses read my blog.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


While reading Neil Gaiman's comic "Dream Country," I was reminded of a grammar question that I wanted answered. The question is, "what verb do we use with the word, all?" As many of you know, all is a word which means "total or complete"-- "all my copies of Gaiman's Sandman are accounted for" (I have several copies and the total number is available to me).

I did some research and I found out that whether the word takes a plural or singular verb depends on the noun that all refers to. For example, "all my books are in my library" (the noun being referred to is books, a plural noun). From sappy love songs and cards, we get the expression, "all that matters is you," where all refers to you, a singular entity.

I hope all is well with everyone.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

S-V Agreement: A Lot Of

Sometimes, it can be messy to figure out the verb that goes with expressions like a lot of or a/the majority of. These phrases indicate a quantity without mentioning the exact number. For example, "a lot of students," "a majority of teachers." In both cases, the verb to be used is plural: "a lot of students were" and "the majority of teachers are."

I think people sometimes use the singular verb because a lot of and the majority of sound like collective nouns, hence, the possibility of using the singular. However, the verb is plural because the noun attached to the expression is plural. "Students" and "teachers" are both examples of plural nouns.

I hope a lot of people are reading me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Amount Is And Amounts Are

Hi everyone! I didn't get to post yesterday as I was so tired from the Baguio trip, all I wanted to do was lie down and take it easy. I'm getting pretty busy these days but I will constantly update this blog. Anyway, here's today's post:

While checking a bunch of papers today, I came across several instances of people writing, "the amount are." I think what's causing this problem is the assumption that the word amount is a collective noun, hence, being able to take the plural and the singular. Fact is, amount is not a collective noun, which means it has a plural and a singular form. So, if you're using amount (singular), the verb is singular as well-- "the amount is." However, if you're talking about several amounts (plural), then, "the amounts are."

Here are some examples:
The amount that we must pay is not as big as I thought.
The amounts of raw materials needed for this project are varied.
Is this the correct amount of flour?
Are these amounts of flour, sugar, and chocolate chips the right ones?

Thanks for reading, everyone!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Fickle and Pickle

While in the bus on the road to Baguio, we got to watch snatches of mind-numbing, inane, Philippine TV. We saw a bit of a game show and a bit of a variety show. In one of the shows, I heard the host say "pickle-minded" instead of "fickle-minded."

Now, "fickle" and "pickle" are two very different words. When you describe someone as "fickle," you're saying that he/she easily changes his/her mind. You're fickle if you go to a shoe store, pick one pair of shoes, then decide you want another pair instead. After deciding on the new pair, you change your mind again and decide to go with the first pair you chose. So, a "fickle-minded person" is someone who constantly changes his/her mind.

A "pickle" on the other hand, is a vegetable preserved in a vinegar or salt solution. It's something eaten. There is no such thing as a "pickle-minded" person. The word can also be used to describe a mess or some trouble someone is in: "He got caught cheating. He is in a pickle now."

I know that the mispronunciation stems from the "p" and "f" problem that many Pinoys have. Pinoy English speakers tend to pronounce the "f" sound for the "p" sound and vice versa. Please, if you have this problem, be conscious of it. Listen to the correct pronunciation of the words here: "fickle" and "pickle."

Actually, we don't even have to say "fickle-minded." Being fickle is a state of mind. Adding "minded" to the word just adds mental clutter.

If you're planning on working in an English-speaking country like the U.S. or Australia, learn to say "fickle" right. If not, you might find yourself in a pickle.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Going Out On A Limb

I mentioned in an early post that I would write about English idiomatic expressions. I started with one on the expression, "barking up the wrong tree." Today, I would like to write about "going out on a limb."

Most idiomatic expressions work by playing with images. In the expression, "going out on a limb," the image we see is someone who is on a tree branch crawling to the end of that branch to get something. If you think about it, it's a very dangerous position for a human being to be in (who would want to crawl on a tree branch?).

Following from what the image means, we see that the expression " going out on a limb" alludes to doing something dangerous. The danger here will not likely be a physical one but more of a social or psychological one. For example, you may describe asking your boss for a pay increase as "going out on a limb." Asking for a raise is rather dangerous, if you think about it. You can get the raise or you can get fired. So, if you feel you're doing something that can be dangerous or stressful, you can say, "I'm going out on a limb."

By the way, work is taking me to Baguio this week. Be back Saturday. Take care!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Games and Sports

There seems to be some confusion regarding the difference between the word "game" and the word "sports." What is the difference between the two?

The word "game" refers to any activity that leads to amusement, entertainment, or something we do with friends to pass the time. Some samples of games are sipa, patintero, hide-and-seek, and activities like party games (charades, pinoy henyo, and relay activities) and board games (Trivial Pursuit, Carcassonne, Monopoly, etc.). Your favorite game can be something like hide-and-seek or Monopoly, or even an video game. Basketball is not one of your favorite games, it's one of your favorite sports.

The word "sport" or "sports," on the other hand, refers to a physical activity which has a specific set of rules that must be followed. Whereas a game is usually for entertainment and a little competition, a sport is highly competitive. Sports include basketball, boxing, baseball, billiards, football, and even martial arts like taekwando and karate. A game like hide-and-seek is not a sport.

I think one reason for this confusion is the use of "game" to refer to certain sports competitions. We do watch basketball games, soccer games, and track and field games. In this instance, the word "game" is used to mean an organized sporting event or meet, one which contains intense competition. Hence, we have the Olympic Games.

In general, a game is not a sport.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Coffee Or A Coffee?

I've been hearing more and more people say "Let's get a coffee" now. Before, people would just say, "Let's get coffee." Why the addition of the article a? Is the article even correctly placed?

I think people say "a coffee" now because of the many coffee shops and coffee varieties available. When the article a is used, it means that the speaker wants one variety out of many (a bag out of so many kinds, a book out of the many available, a drink out of so many varieties of drinks). So, if the person says "Let's get a coffee," he or she wants one kind of coffee out of many (cape barako? African coffee? black coffee? coffee with cream? decaf?). Or, "a coffee" could also mean the types of coffee that come out of coffee preparations and recipes (latte? mocha coffee? French vanilla? espresso? cappuccino? caramel machiatto?). Thanks to Starbucks and all these lifestyle coffee places, we can now say "a coffee."

If you want to say "Let's get coffee," it's still all right. Truth be told, the article doesn't make much of a difference anyway.

I don't drink coffee, though.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fixed Rate

Yesterday, while I was at SM Hypermart, I noticed this message on the parking ticket: "Fix Rate." Although I understood that Hypermart charges only P25 no matter how long you keep your car parked with them, I could not resist the chance to blog about "Fix Rate."

The proper form is really "Fixed Rate." I understand where the confusion comes from because "fixed" and "fix" do sound so much alike. Although both have very similar meanings, there is a slight difference between the two.

The most common meaning of the verb "fix" is "to repair" or "to make something right." So we say, "I will fix the stove" or "I asked someone to fix the car." However, where parking fees are concerned, "fix" is used to mean "to make definite" as in, to make it impossible (or very hard) to change something. If a parking area has a "fixed rate," then it means that they charge only one amount, no matter how long you stay parked. If you go to a store and try to get a discount, you might be told that they charge a "fixed price;" hence, no discounts or price changes. You might also want to say that you have a "fixed schedule" which means your time is already spoken for.

On weekends, though, you're supposed to relax and enjoy a day with no fixed schedules. Have fun!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Near My Place

I don't know why I've been hearing people say, "That restaurant is near in my place," or something like it. The correct way of saying this is "That restaurant is near my place." I wonder why some people add the preposition "in" when there's no need for it?

One explanation I can think of is there could be some kind of transliteration going on from Tagalog to English, although I don't know what. The other explanation is perhaps some kind of automatic response: people associate "in" with "my place," like, "In my place, we have a garden." Because of the association, they forget to take it out when it's not needed.

The bottom line could possibly be a problem with prepositions like "in." I've posted twice on this topic. Just remember, when it comes to places, "in" is used when something is surrounded. The sentence "The restaurant is near in my place" is definitely wrong because the restaurant is not surrounded by the speaker's home. Rather, the restaurant is near the speaker's home, which means it's close by. In this case, just say, "near my place" or "near where I live."

Have a nice day!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Family vs Families

While I was in Bacolod, I kept hearing people say, "I want to work abroad to support my families." I was not sure what these people meant by using "families." Did they have large families or did they have several families, i.e., more than one wife or husband or children from different marriages?

Since most of the people I was talking to were young women who were studying English to work as nurses abroad, I can only assume that they meant they had large families who needed financial support. Now, what is the difference between family and families?

Family is a collective noun which refers to a person's blood relatives. We all know that family is the basic unit of society composed of the mother, father, and kids. Here in the Philippines, family will include grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and all manner of blood relation. Family also connotes the responsibilities we have to take for people who are related to us. As a collective noun, though, family means several people--all your relatives or all the people you consider as part of your family. The plural is never used to talk about one family, no matter how many members it has.

When do we say families, then? We use the plural when we're referring to several families. Consider: "Most Filipino families have at least one member working as an OFW." In this sentence, we're talking about many (more than one) Filipino families. This is different from "I have a big family. Some of the members of my family are working abroad." Here, the speaker is referring to just her family, despite the fact that many people are part of it.

If you say families, though, people might think you're part of several family units. In other words, you have more than one wife or husband or several children from different marriages. You know, the stuff soap operas are made of.

So, it's best to say, "I want to work abroad to support my family."

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Based On

Hi everyone! It's been five days since my last post. Whew! I've been extremely busy. I was supposed to be free yesterday but I got called in to work so I was out all day again. Anyway, I'm back and here's my newest post:

I keep hearing people say "based from" when they want to say something like: "Based from what I was told, if I want to be a nurse abroad, I have to take several qualifying tests." I've also heard "Based from the website I read, to work in the U.S., you have to spend a lot on application fees." Now, the other parts of the sentences are all right; the problem lies in the expression, "based from."

The correct form is actually not "based from" but based on.

When we say based on, what we're referring to is drawing conclusions from information. So, let's say you want to be a nurse abroad, you might want to refer to several websites and agencies to find out how you can go about it. Once you've checked with all of these, then you can make conclusions about your own application: "Based on the information I gathered, I need to work on getting all the qualifications first before I can apply for a working visa."

Based on statistics, most Filipinos want to work abroad.

Friday, November 2, 2007


While reading through the readers' feedback of a magazine, I saw this message from a satisfied reader: "At first, I was not sold to the idea of your magazine, but I learned to enjoy it." What I want to blog about is the mistake found in the expression, sold to.

We know that the word sold is the past tense of the verb, sell. This verb means to exchange goods for money: "I sold my iPod for a good price." However, it also means to convince someone to buy into or accept an idea, item, etc.: "I sold her on the idea of celebrating her birthday in Tagaytay." It also means that the speaker is convinced by an idea: "I am sold on the idea of buying a new car." Both sentences mean that someone was convinced by something. If you want to use the verb sold in this way, the correct expression is sold on and not "sold to."

In the sentence I got from the magazine, the writer was saying that at first, she was not convinced by the idea of the magazine but that she eventually learned to appreciate it. Since this is the case, then she meant that she was sold on the idea.

Sold to, however, is correct if you want to say that an item was sold to someone: "I sold my iPod to my cousin" or "That item was sold to your neighbor." It is never used to say that someone was convinced to buy into something. Where this is concerned, we use sold on.

By the way, I will be in Bacolod this weekend. See you again either Monday or Tuesday.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Turn Off The Lights!

I often hear people say, "I put on the light" or "I put on the electric fan." We do not use the expression "put on" to mean to "turn something on."

One of the meanings of the verb "put" is to place something in a definite place or location. Hence, we "put the plates on the dining table" and we "put the pots and pans in the pantry." We also "put on clothes" like, "I just need to put on my socks." When we're hitting light switches or electric fan switches, we're not "putting on" lights or fans or any appliance. Instead, when we want lights or fans, we say, "We turn on the lights and fans when we get home."

When we use the verb "turn," one of the things we mean is to "start a process." When we're talking about appliances, we need to switch them on to start the process that will make them work. So, when we "turn on the lights," we're starting the electrical process that makes lights work. We also say "turn off the lights" when we want to stop the process.

We do say "put out," though, when we're irritated with someone or something: "I was put out because they arrived so late!" We can also say "put on" when we're saying that someone is teasing us or giving us false information: "You say aliens exist in the Philippines? You're putting me on!"

Want to save energy? Turn off the lights when you don't need them or you might put out the environmentalists out there!