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The difference between “prescribe” and “proscribe”

The verbs “prescribe” and “proscribe” are very close in spelling and pronunciation but almost opposites in meaning. Don’t get them confused! “Prescribe” means “stipulate” or “order”. Perhaps the most common usage is in the field of medicine – where a … Continue reading

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The difference between “commitment” and “commission” (and “committee” and “committal”)

The verb “commit” has numerous related noun forms: commitment, commission, committal and committee. Many people – native English speakers included – do not know all the differences between them. A criminal “commits a crime”. But we cannot talk about the … Continue reading

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Common mistakes with the Present Perfect tense

The Present Perfect tense is made up of have/has and the past participle of a verb: He has eaten all the chocolates. I have included your amendments in the draft agreement. It is perhaps the most difficult of all verb … Continue reading

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When to use “a” and when to use “an”

We say “an old man” but “a young child”. What is the rule for using “a” and “an”? The rule is that we use “a” before a consonant sound and “an” before a vowel sound. Note that it’s the sound … Continue reading

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How to write dates

There is a difference between how dates are written in British and American English. In British English dates are usually written in the day-month-year format, for example: 6 October 2017 In American English dates are usually written in the month-day-year … Continue reading

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How to use “since”

“Since” can be an expression of time, and it can mean “because”. “Since” as a time expression When used to express time, the word “since” means: — from a time in the past until the present — from a time … Continue reading

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How to use hyphens and dashes

A hyphen is a short line used in compound words and double-barrelled names. There’s one there in “double-barrelled”, which is a compound word. Hyphens don’t usually have spaces before or after them. A dash is a long line used as a punctuation symbol. … Continue reading

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