Hello and welcome to our weekly “Vocabulary Builder” which comes to you every Wednesday. As always, we discover some of the most outstanding (not “new”) word usages, phrasal verbs, idiomatic expressions and common mistakes to avoid in English. If you are yet to subscribe to our site, then kindly do so (be sure I’ll follow back and share in your thoughts too).
Do not be surprised to find me reopening a poem or story you wrote many days or years back and referring to it in my Wednesday posts. It is simply what I love doing.
So, let’s roll out today’s compilation. I’ll deliberately skip phrasal verbs in today’s post.
Outstanding word usage
A series or chain of an event or something.
Example of usage:
Ingrid Wilson uses this word in her poem “Do-you-think-the-saurus?” to refer to the different interconnected ‘versions’ of English that have been used in different ages since time immemorial. See below:
‘Dawlin, Baybe!’ Essix nearby
Nowf Lahdan too: a cavalcade
down through the years, the Middle
and the Old
taught me to be bold
with my word choices.From stanza 2 of “Do-you-think-the-saurus?”
Lest we forget, writers are at liberty to deviate from the literal meaning of a word (definition) to its figurative meaning, but with great regard to the principles of semantics, as seen in this case.
I bet no linguist would wink at this detailed and memorable poem by Ingrid.
Outstanding idiomatic expression
Step up to the plate
To take up responsibility or initiate an action (by volunteering).
Let’s step up to the plate
being an example and walk away
from getting on our soap box.
We need to practise what we preach
and go back to what we learned as children
and be kind to one another,
in and out of the sandbox.Stanza five of “Ignite our Light for the New Year”
The difference between a skilful writer and a native writer is the ability to contextualize a word or a phrase as seen in Cindy’s case. When you contextualize an idiom, you consider its suitability for the message you’re trying to convey. Kindly read Cindy’s poem; you’d agree with me that this usage is well-fitting and exemplery (and that Cindy is a skilful writer).
More idioms to add to your writer’s voc-list
1. Spoil the ship for a ha’p’oth of tar (ha’p’oth – half-penny-worth): have something important fail for want of a small reward.
2. Twenty to the dozen – fluently. (E.g. She speaks English twenty to the dozen.)
3. Burn daylight – waste time.
4. Harsh one’s mellow – spoil one’s good mood or annoy someone.
5. Take a load off – sit.
Idioms add flavour to writing but should be used abstemiously since they have hidden meanings. Kindly post one or two in the comments section for other readers to see and enrich their vocabulary too.
Common mistakes to avoid
Using the phrases “at this point in time” and “at this moment in time” in writings and formal speeches.
These phrases are redundant (needlessly wordy). Instead, use now or at this time.
Examples of usage:
NONSTANDARD: Most people can at this point in time access the Internet.
STANDARD: Most people can now/at this time acess the Internet.
Thank you many times for reading till the end. Kindly like and leave your thoughts in the comments section below. See you again next week with another chapter. Meanwhile, keep reading our posts.