Wednesday, February 21, 2024

English usage

by damith
November 12, 2023 1:19 am 0 comment 809 views

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

Simplistic / simplified / simplicity

‘Simplistic’ means ‘treating difficult subjects in a way that is too simple.’

The Government has adopted a naïve and simplistic approach to economic policy.

A simplified version of the Chinese script has been published.

‘Simplicity’ means ‘the quality of being simple, especially when this is attractive or useful.’

He writes with a beautiful simplicity of style.


When used as a conjunction ‘since’ is normally followed by a verb in the past tense.

We haven’t heard from John since he joined the army.

‘Since’ is followed by a verb in the perfect tense when it refers to an action that is still continuing.

Since he has been here we have had no peace.

When ‘since’ is used as an adverb it is usually preceded by a verb in the perfect tense and followed by an expression of time.

I have been waiting here since 8 a.m.


The past tense of ‘sink’ is ‘sank’ and the past participle is ‘sunk’ or ‘sunken.’ When the past participle is used as an adjective ‘sunken’ is the usual form.

The thief had sunken eyes.

The population in the old town had sunk to a few dozen families.

Your heart sinks when you lose hope or confidence, especially when you feel unable to do everything that you have to do.


Slang is a very informal language that includes new and sometimes rude words, especially words used only by particular groups of people such as criminals, schoolchildren or people who take drugs.

There are many slangy expressions in English.

Slang invents new words and gives established ones new meanings. It can be both imaginative and colourful, but if used excessively it becomes stale. Slang is considered by many people to be inferior to standard speech, although numerous slang words eventually win acceptance and respectability.

Sled / sledge / sleigh / sleight of hand

‘Sledge’ is a vehicle for travelling over snow with two long narrow pieces of wood or metal fixed under it. ‘Sled’ is the American spelling.

A sleigh is a large vehicle pulled by animals, used for travelling over snow.

‘Sleight of hand’ is the use of clever tricks and dishonesty to achieve something.

Slovenly / slovenliness

‘Slovenly’ means ‘lazy and untidy and not caring about your appearance.’

A fat slovenly woman managed the rest house.

A man with shabby clothes and a general air of slovenliness was in charge of the guest house.


‘Sly’ means ‘very clever in the way that you use tricks and dishonesty to get what you want.’

The way you did it is really sly.

‘A sly smile’ shows that you are hiding something you know from other people.

They have been meeting each other on the sly for months. (secretly)


‘Smell’ is the quality that people and animals recognise by using their nose.

Some flowers have a stronger smell than others.

His breath smells. (unpleasant smell)

When you have a cold you cannot smell.

If you smell trouble, something bad is going to happen.

If you smell a rat, you guess that something wrong or dishonest is happening.

Sociable / social

Someone who is sociable enjoys being with other people.

‘Social’ means ‘concerning human society and its organisation, or the quality of people’s lives.’

A social class is a group of people who have the same social position.

Social mobility is your ability to move into a higher social class.

If you have social skills, you can meet people easily and deal with them.

Social life includes activities with your friends.

Elephants are social animals because they live in groups in their natural state.

A social climber is someone who tries to get accepted into a higher social class by becoming friendly with people who belong to that class.

Social democracy is a political and economic system based on socialism combined with democratic principles and government by elected representatives.

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