Angela’s ABCs: Words easily confused – whose and who’s

This is quite a tricky pair and I always have to think carefully before I can plump for the right one. If you make a mistake, it’s not one that the grammar check will always pick up. Whose is the possessive form of who. It means ‘belonging to whom or which’.  Whose usually sits before a noun. Examples The teacher kept the class behind until she found out whose mobile phone was ringing. Whose book is this? My son knows the girl whose handbag was stolen. Who’s is short for (a contraction… Read More

Angela’s ABCs: Ellipsis

Ellipsis el‧lip‧sis plural ellipses From the Ancient Greek: ἔλλειψις, élleipsis, ‘omission’ or ‘falling short’ There are two main meanings: An ellipsis occurs when words are deliberately left out of a sentence, though the meaning can still be understood. For example, you can say ‘He’s going on holiday but I’m not’ instead of saying ‘He’s going on holiday but I’m not going on holiday.’ An ellipsis is the punctuation sign (…) used in writing to show that some words have deliberately been left out of a sentence. It is always three dots and… Read More

Angela’s ABCs – Principal or Principle?

Words easily confused: principal and principle. I made a mistake with these two the other day, as my husband gleefully pointed out, telling me that: Principal  is an adjective meaning ‘most important’ or ‘main’, or a noun designating ‘the main or chief one’. So, the main sum of money on which interest is calculated is called the principal, and the chief person or head teacher in a school is the principal. Principle  can never be an adjective. It is a noun only, referring to a fundamental law or concept, or to a code of conduct, often used in the… Read More

Angela’s ABCs – Both and Each

Both and each Difference between both and each: Both refers to two things considered together, while each refers to the individual members of a group considered separately, or one by one. The essence of both is togetherness, whereas the essence of each is separateness. Both refers to two only, whereas each can refer to more than two. Sometimes, it’s important to use each instead of both for clarity: I gave both girls £10. This could mean that you gave them £10 to share between them. I gave each girl £10. This makes… Read More

Angela’s ABCs: sat/sitting and stood/standing

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there is a trend these days for people to say ‘I was sat’ instead of ‘I was sitting’ and ‘I was stood’ instead of ‘I was standing’. What they are doing is using the past participle when the present participle is needed.  Some would say that this is a ‘non-standard grammatical form’, possibly originating in the north of England, while others would say it is wrong. Examples: ×I was sat there all on my own until the others came. ×I was stood at the bus… Read More