Monday, 19 March 2012

Know Your English

“Good morning, sir.”
“Good morning, Lalith. Who dropped you?”

“My papa, sir. I thought I should come here by time. Time—that reminds me of the point that I wanted to discuss. What is the difference between have time and find time?”

“An interesting question, Lalith. The time available to you is have time. I will visit you when I have time. Well, that means I will visit you when time is available to me.”

Make or find time means to plan in such a way that you have time available to do something that you wanted to do. I always find time to listen to old Hindi songs. Busy with school sports, she couldn’t find time for study.”

“It is interesting, sir, to know how a word can make the difference in the way we use language, particularly English. You used the phrase for study—busy with school sports, she couldn’t find time for study—should study be in singular or plural?”

“You ask very thoughtful questions.  When you use the word with the meaning learning at home, the word is used in singular. The word studies means the work you do in college or school to learn about a particular subject or subjects. How are your studies coming along?

“Oh. Then the word sport, sir—what is the difference between sport and sports?”
“In British English it is singular—sport, and in American English, it is sports—plural. Are you interested in sport? I am interested in sports.”

“The word sport is an uncountable noun…”
“You mean it cannot be counted…”

“Yeah. When you use the word as a countable noun, it means a particular form of sport. What is your favourite sport? Swimming is my favourite sport. I like water sports.”

“Sir, what is the meaning of to make sport of somebody or something?”
“It means to make fun of someone or something.  He was just making a sport of himself. When you say something in sport, you are saying it just for fun. He made the comments in sport, not seriously.”

“Thank you, sir. It was informative.”

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