Category Archives: Grammar

Every day and everyday. Are they synonyms?

The short answer is no. The long answer is also no, and there are several clues we can use to help choose the right expression.

Everyday is an adjective, so it describes a noun, and it means ‘regular, normal, common.’

“My everyday shoes are made of leather.”

We cannot change this to show a different amount of time. “Everyweek, everymonth, and everyyear” are not English.

Every day is used to show a time or repetition. It means ‘each day, without a break.”

“I wear my leather shoes every day.”

We can change this to show repetition over time. “Every month, every hour, and every year” are all good expressions.

“I get a massage every month.”
“I email my boss every hour.”
“I celebrate my birthday every year.”

Now, it is time to practice your everyday English. Speak, listen, read, and write every day!”

Trip and Travel Woes

Trip and Travel

These words, when used to describe journeys or voyages, are basically synonyms, but there are some differences in their connotations and grammar.

Trip is a count noun, and it is also a verb meaning “to fall over.”  A trip could be a short or long distance, and it could take a short or long time. We use it to talk about the whole voyage or journey. We usually use it with the verbs plan, take, or go on.

  • I planned a trip to Egypt to see the pyramids. (emphasizing the whole time away or the complete voyage)
  • I took many trips in Vancouver: I went to Whistler, Deep Cove, and Stanley Park. (emphasizing the number of adventures)
  • She went on a trip last week, so she wasn’t in school.

Travel is usually a non-count noun and a verb with a similar meaning. In contrast, however, it is always a long time and a long distance.

  • Last year, I traveled to 6 countries.
  • My travel took three months.

If we use it to describe a short journey, we are comparing it to a long journey. This might be a joke, or to show how unhappy we are with it.

  • I have to travel to Kitsilano every day from Granville Street. I hate my homestay!
  • Please bring me the remote control. I am sick, and I don’t want to travel to the other sofa to get it.

In My View vs. From My Point Of View

In my view – this is used to describe an opinion.

  • “In my view, the plan is bad, because it will be very expensive.”

From my point of view – this is used for an opinion, but it sounds like a contrast will be made with another opinion..

  • Jennifer: From my point of view, snow is bad, because it means none of my customers will come to my golf course.
  • James: From my point of view, snow is good, because it means I will have people attend my skiing classes!

Here, There, Home and Downtown

There’s a secret I want to tell you: home, downtown, here, and there don’t need prepositions with movement verbs! Easy to remember, right?

I hear this a lot: “When I go to home, I…”  <-incorrect English makes teachers sad

Just remove the “to” and it is right: “When I go home, I…” <- correct English makes teachers happy

Here are some other examples:

  • I came to downtown -> I came downtown.
  • She flew to there. -> She flew there.
  • He rode his bike to here.  -> He rode his bike here.

Now you know. Go home, or take the train downtown, and tell your friends about it!

The Vocabulary of Customer Service

Serve is not the same as service, though they are both regular verbs (serve/served/served, service/serviced/serviced).

Serve is the verb of waiters, clerks, and attendants, and it means “to help a customer.”

  • The attendant served his customers quickly and efficiently.

Service is the verb of technicians, and it means “to repair or maintain a machine.”

  • The mechanic serviced the car before the trip.

If you use the verb “service” in place of “serve,” it is incorrect.

  • The waiter serviced his guests <- never, unless the guests are robots.

Service is a noun relating to the ability of waiters, clerks, and attendants to do their jobs.

  • The service is great here. I never have to ask them to pour more coffee!

Relative Clauses, Relatively Speaking

Relative clauses give us more information about nouns. For example, they might tell us about one in a group, or what kind of noun we are talking about. There are two kinds of relative clause: identifying and non-identifying.

Identifying relative clauses tell us which one we are talking about:

Glen is a piano player who wrote my favourite song. (Other piano players did not write my favourite song, and none of these players are named Glen.)

Do you have a dessert that two people could share? (Some desserts cannot be shared, but I am not interested in these desserts.)

Students who study every day get the highest scores on tests. (To get the highest scores on their tests, students should study every day.)

Non-identifying relative clauses just add extra information about the noun:

Solomon, who plays guitar, works in Victoria.

Many students study at the library, where you have to be quiet.

Non-identifying clauses are more formal, and are usually separated from the main clause by commas. Identifying clauses cannot be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence, but non-identifying clauses usually can be removed without changing the meaning.

Connotation and Denotation

When we learn a new word, we learn its meaning – the denotation. We also learn spelling and pronunciation, but we should also look at the context where we use the word. You see, there are words with the same denotation, like “examination” and “quiz,” but we would never say “I’m going to the doctor’s office for a quiz!” That’s because “quiz” has connotations of school and short duration, but “examination” has connotations of science, medicine, and detail.

The difference between a good user of English and a great user of English is often their mastery of connotations, which they use to help select the best word for each context.

How to choose? Good question.

  • The first item is our emotion. What is our attitude towards our topic? Angry, respectful, happy, sad, or something else?
  • The second is the formality. Are we speaking formally? Are we writing casually?
  • The last is the topic. Is there a clear context, like business, university, romance, or creativity?

If you’re choosing connotations for a school assignment, like a test, also be sure to check the grammar – singular/plural, word forms, and count/noncount may all be reasons to eliminate multiple choices that your teacher has given you!

Confusing Words: Late and Lately

“Late” is not the same as “lately.”

Late is the opposite of early. They are both adjectives, and must modify nouns.

  • “James will be late today. He will arrive after the meeting begins.”

Lately means recently, or close to now. Lately is an adverb.

  • “I’ve taken a lot of classes in English lately.”

Lately can also move around in the sentence, like other adverbs:

  • “Lately, I’ve taken a lot of English classes.”

Count and Noncount Nouns: Technology Edition

In class, these topics often come up. I decided to post it here as well.

  • Hardware = noncount
  • Software = noncount
  • Information = noncount
  • Computer = count
  • File = count
  • App = count
  • Data = plural, but most people use it as a noncount noun. (datum is the singular form, but this use is very uncommon.)