English usage | Sunday Observer

English usage

11 September, 2022

This is a guide to help learners to communicate easily in both speech and writing through a better understanding of the English language.

If fighting, violence, or a bad situation escalates or if someone escalates it, it becomes much worse.
Susan’s fear was escalating into panic.
‘Escalate’ also means ‘to become higher or increase or to make something do this.’
The cost of living is escalating alarmingly.
The verb ‘escalate’ is formed from the noun ‘escalator.’ It has enriched the English language.
Especially / specially
‘Especially’ is used to emphasise that something is more important or happens more with one particular thing than with others.
Books are expensive to produce, especially if they contain colour illustrations.
‘Specially’ means ‘for one particular purpose and only for that purpose.’
Specially trained police dogs are used to apprehend murder suspects.
Essential / necessary
‘Essential’ means ‘something that is necessary to do something or in a particular situation.’
Air is essential to mammals.
When you travel take only the bare essentials. (the most necessary things)
I have no reason to doubt the essentials of your story. (the most important information
Something that is necessary is what you need to have or need to do.
The book provides all the information about Sri Lanka.
‘Essential’and ‘necessary’ are synonyms.
‘Etc.’ is the abbreviation for the Latin ‘et cetera’ meaning ‘and others.’ The full form is rarely used.
I walked into a shop that sells exercise books, greeting cards, diaries, calendars etc.
You are not expected to use ‘etc.’ in essays or formal writing.
Ethic / ethics / ethical
‘Ethic’ means ‘a general idea or belief that influences people’s behaviour and attitudes.’
The old ethic of hard work has given way to a new ethic of instant gratification.
‘Ethics’ means ‘moral rules or principles of behaviour for deciding what is right and wrong.’
Ethics was a subject for the G.C.E. Advanced Level Examination many years ago.
‘Ethical’ means ‘relating to principles of what is right and wrong.’
The use of animals in scientific experiments has raised difficult ethical questions.
Politicians must have the highest ethical standards.
It is unethical for you to accept a job you know you cannot do.
Ethics / morals
‘Ethics’ is used to mean ‘a system of moral principles.’
‘Morals’ are concerned with right and wrong in practice. The word also refers to generally accepted standards of conduct in society.
Values and morals are independent of religious faith.
A moralist someone who has very strong beliefs about what is right and wrong and how people should behave. The word is used to show disapproval.
‘Euphemism’ means ‘a polite word or expression that you use instead of a more direct one to avoid shocking or upsetting someone.’
‘Pass away’ is a popular euphemism for ‘die.’
‘Mental disorder’ is a euphemism for ‘insanity.’
Evade / evasive / evasion / evasiveness
‘Evade’ means ‘to avoid talking about something, especially because you are trying to hide something.’
Why are you trying to evade the issue?
‘Evasion’ is the noun.
‘Evasive’ means ‘not willing to answer questions directly.’
‘Evasiveness’ is the quality of being evasive.
The evasiveness of the minister’s replies aroused people’s suspicion.
‘Even’ is used to emphasise something that is unexpected or surprising in what you say.
Even large companies have suffered a drop in their profits.
Sandra did not even bother to phone me.
‘Even’ usually goes before the word or phrase that you want to emphasise because it is surprising.
Even young children know how to use mobile phones.