English usage | Sunday Observer

English usage

26 June, 2022

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

Client / customer
A client is someone who gets services or advice from a professional person or organisation. A customer is someone who buys goods or services from a shop or company.
ABC Company has many satisfied customers.
Climactic / climatic
‘Climactic’ means ‘forming a very exciting or important part of an event or story, especially near the end of it.’ ‘Climatic’ means ‘relating to the weather in a particular area.
Cockscomb / coxcomb
‘Cockscomb’ is the red flesh that grows from the top of a male chicken’s head.
‘Coxcomb’ is a stupid man who is too proud of
his clothes and appearance.
Coherence / cohesion
If a group has coherence, its members are connected or united because they share common aims, qualities or beliefs.
A common religion ensures the coherence of the tribe.
If there is cohesion among a group of people all the members of it are connected or related in a reasonable way to form a whole. ‘Coherence’ is used more often in a figurative sense, whereas ‘cohesion’ is applied to the uniting of objects or substances.
Coiffeur / coiffure
A coiffeur is a hairdresser. ‘Coiffure’ is a style of arranging or setting the hair.
Collective nouns
There are different types of collective nouns. Those that apply to a series of articles collected together are treated as singular and take a singular verb. Some of them are: luggage, cutlery, clothing, and transport.
Some nouns are the same in the singular and the plural and take either a singular or a plural verb according to the sense.
The fish are swimming.
My fish is delicious.
Group nouns may take a singular or a plural verb according to the context. If the emphasis is on the group acting as an individual unit, use a singular verb.
The jury has agreed upon its verdict.
If the emphasis is on the individuals who make up the group, use a plural verb.
The committee were unable to come to a decision.
The number / a number
‘The number’ is usually singular.
The number of acts of terrorism has shown a steep increase.
‘A number’ is usually plural.
A number of students are taking part in the concert.
Collaboration / collusion
When you work together with another person or a group of people to achieve something, especially in science or art, it is collaboration.
The ABC Company is building a training centre in collaboration with the Institute of Engineers.
‘Collusion’ is a secret agreement that two or more people make in order to do something dishonest. It is a conspiracy.
A colon is used to introduce a list of items.
The ABC Company produces four types of motor vehicles: a sports car, a saloon, an estate car and a van.
A colon is also used when introducing direct speech.
Anthony said: “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.”
Comedy / farce / burlesque
Comedy is entertainment that is intended to make people laugh.
A farce is an event or a situation that is very badly organised or does not happen properly, in a way that is silly and unreasonable.
The interview was a complete farce from start to finish.
‘Burlesque’ means ‘speech, acting or writing in which a serious subject is made to seem silly or an unimportant subject is treated in a serious way.