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Human vs. Humane
14-03-2015

Are we humans or humane? That depends. Human is a noun that refers to people, human beings, men and women. For instance, “We are humans, not animals.” And, “Dogs can smell things humans can’t.” However, humane is an adjective similar to compassionate, merciful, which are characteristics we don’t associate to all humans. For example, “We […]

Human vs. Humane

by Themer Bastos

Are we humans or humane? That depends. Human is a noun that refers to people, human beings, men and women. For instance, “We are humans, not animals.” And, “Dogs can smell things humans can’t.” However, humane is an adjective similar to compassionate, merciful, which are characteristics we don’t associate to all humans. For example, “We demand more humane conditions for our prisoners.” There’s also the adverb humanely, which we see in the following sentence: “Animals should be treated more humanely.” Sometimes we use human to be less sexist, but there are other ways to avoid discrimination. Some professions have adapted to this. Take flight attendants. They used to be stewards and stewardesses. Or even police officers, which is used instead of policemen and policewomen. In the end, we can be humane humans living our lives humanely.

Tags: confusable words / human / humane / humanely /


About Themer Bastos

I'm Themer and I've been teaching English for almost 30 years. It's one of my passions. I've also written some books you can check out at themerbastos.com. Hope you enjoy my posts.


Education
02-02-2015

In English, when you use education, you’re talking about going to school, or learning something. For example, “Education is the key to success.” We could also say “Traveling is the best education he can have.” So, the adjective educated has nothing to do with good manners, and yet we make this mistake all the time. […]

Education

by Themer Bastos

In English, when you use education, you’re talking about going to school, or learning something. For example, “Education is the key to success.” We could also say “Traveling is the best education he can have.” So, the adjective educated has nothing to do with good manners, and yet we make this mistake all the time. For instance, “He’s the most highly educated president we’ve ever had. He’s also friendly and good-mannered.” Also, the verb educate is about teaching and providing information about something. For example, “I can use e-learning and be educated over the Internet. Or, “We must educate ourselves about our risk for heart diseases.” Having said that, next time you need it, you’ll know how to get the right idea across.

Tags: confusable words / educate / educated / education / good manners /


About Themer Bastos

I'm Themer and I've been teaching English for almost 30 years. It's one of my passions. I've also written some books you can check out at themerbastos.com. Hope you enjoy my posts.


Of hospices and compromises
29-01-2015

Sometimes you look at a word in English and you think you know it. Like hospice. It’s so similar to ‘hospício’, but… There’s always a ‘but’. Hospice is a special kind of hospital for terminal patients to receive support at the end of their lives. It’s not a place for the mentally ill, which is […]

Of hospices and compromises

by Themer Bastos

Sometimes you look at a word in English and you think you know it. Like hospice. It’s so similar to ‘hospício’, but… There’s always a ‘but’. Hospice is a special kind of hospital for terminal patients to receive support at the end of their lives. It’s not a place for the mentally ill, which is an asylum. For example, “She was committed to an insane asylum.” Hospice can also be a shelter, a home, or a hostel kept by religious organizations. For instance, “Pilgrims can stay at hospices run by various churches. Another word you think you know is compromise. So close to ‘compromisso’, but… Compromise is a settlement of accounts in which both parts need to make concessions. For example, “It was a marriage with a lot of compromises.” Another example is “Pragmatism and compromise are leading principles in a democracy.” If you really mean ‘compromisso’, so you should use commitment. Like, “The company was after professionals with lots of commitment to their careers.” All things considered, what you see is not always what you get.

Tags: commitment / compromise / confusable words / hospice /


About Themer Bastos

I'm Themer and I've been teaching English for almost 30 years. It's one of my passions. I've also written some books you can check out at themerbastos.com. Hope you enjoy my posts.


Are you lonesome tonight?
26-01-2015

A friend of mine once wrote a song that sang: “I may be alone but I’ll never be lonely.” When you’re alone, you have nobody to keep you company. The noun you associate with that is solitude. Depending on how you deal with being alone, you may be lonely, which is feeling dejected because you […]

Are you lonesome tonight?

by Themer Bastos

A friend of mine once wrote a song that sang: “I may be alone but I’ll never be lonely.” When you’re alone, you have nobody to keep you company. The noun you associate with that is solitude. Depending on how you deal with being alone, you may be lonely, which is feeling dejected because you have no one by your side. So, there’s an idea of depression connected to it. The noun you use is loneliness. And this is a recurrent theme in music:

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely-Hearts Club Band, by The Beatles;

“All by myself“, sang by many including Frank Sinatra;

“Are you lonesome tonight?”, an Elvis Presley’s hit;

“Another night on my own thinking about you”, which, by the way, the aforementioned friend and I wrote together.

Can you think of other songs with words related to loneliness or solitude?

Tags: alone / confusable words / loneliness / lonely / lonely hearts / lonesome / solitude /


About Themer Bastos

I'm Themer and I've been teaching English for almost 30 years. It's one of my passions. I've also written some books you can check out at themerbastos.com. Hope you enjoy my posts.


Bull vs. Bear
19-01-2015

There’s an exercise we use to show how much students can read in English that consists of asking them to underline all the words they know in a text. In the following example, a student would probably underline the entire sentence. “We had a 20-year bull market.” However, knowing bull and market doesn’t mean you […]

Bull vs. Bear

by Themer Bastos

There’s an exercise we use to show how much students can read in English that consists of asking them to underline all the words they know in a text. In the following example, a student would probably underline the entire sentence. “We had a 20-year bull market.” However, knowing bull and market doesn’t mean you know bull market. Certain expressions don’t render literal translations. Bull market is an expression used to refer to the stock exchange when the price of stock is high. It comes from the fact that when bulls hit people, they throw them upwards, whereas bears don’t. Hence, the opposite of bull market is bear market. Every good dictionary includes these cultural notes that are so important in mastering a foreign language. Do you know any interesting explanation to expressions in English?

Tags: bear market / bull market / confusable words / culture / foreign languages / translation /


About Themer Bastos

I'm Themer and I've been teaching English for almost 30 years. It's one of my passions. I've also written some books you can check out at themerbastos.com. Hope you enjoy my posts.


Tired to the bone
12-01-2015

Then, the year is drawing to an end and you feel tired. But you still try to emphasize it and you say you’re exhausted. Yet you feel you need to say it differently, so you come across a bunch of ways to say you’re tired: tired out, burned out and dead. For example, “I thought […]

Tired to the bone

by Themer Bastos

Then, the year is drawing to an end and you feel tired. But you still try to emphasize it and you say you’re exhausted. Yet you feel you need to say it differently, so you come across a bunch of ways to say you’re tired: tired out, burned out and dead. For example, “I thought of going to the end of the year party, but I was just dead and couldn’t get out of bed.” Drained is when you’re not only physically, but also mentally tired. Like when you finish a long exam. “After I was done with ENEM, I was absolutely drained and just wanted to sleep forever.” Weary is another word you can use in this situation. Bushed is a more informal way of saying you’re exhausted. “I invited them to come over, but they just said they were bushed and in the mood for a long nap.” Thesauruses are synonym dictionaries that can come in handy when you look for different ways to say the same. These efforts you make are excellent to boost you vocabulary and make you closer to fluency in the English language.

Tags: bushed / confusable words / drained / exhausted / tired / weary /


About Themer Bastos

I'm Themer and I've been teaching English for almost 30 years. It's one of my passions. I've also written some books you can check out at themerbastos.com. Hope you enjoy my posts.


Accountants and Accountability
25-12-2014

So you got a job as an accountant. Great. According to Merrian-Webster`s dictionary, an accountant is someone whose job is to keep the financial records of a business or person. But what are accountability and accountable? Accountability is similar but not the same as responsibility because it involves transparency in the process. So in Some […]

Accountants and Accountability

by Themer Bastos

So you got a job as an accountant. Great. According to Merrian-Webster`s dictionary, an accountant is someone whose job is to keep the financial records of a business or person. But what are accountability and accountable? Accountability is similar but not the same as responsibility because it involves transparency in the process. So in Some firms resist accountability, they not only resist showing their accounts, but also being transparent in the process. Another example could be The problem in our country is a total lack of accountability, which gives rise to wholesale corruption.

Accountable is an adjective that means responsible, transparent. Our government is less corrupt and more accountable than ever. There are expressions with accountable: be accountable and be held accountable. Leaders need to be held accountable for the crimes they commit. Or You must change your ways and be accountable for your behavior. To hold accountable is to demand responsibility, explanation or results from something or someone. In the past, presidents didn’t have civic organizations to hold them accountable. Lots of responsibility is involved in being an accountant, uh?

Tags: account / accountability / accountable / confusable words / tips for Brazilian speakers of English /


About Themer Bastos

I'm Themer and I've been teaching English for almost 30 years. It's one of my passions. I've also written some books you can check out at themerbastos.com. Hope you enjoy my posts.


What do you mean?
18-12-2014

Say you overhear the following exchange: Why are you so mean? Mean? Me? What do you mean? … Yes, mean can be an adjective and a verb. Mean can be cruel, low, selfish, as in That was a mean thing to say, or The game has some really mean bad guys. It can also be […]

What do you mean?

by Themer Bastos

Say you overhear the following exchange:

Why are you so mean?

Mean? Me? What do you mean?

Yes, mean can be an adjective and a verb. Mean can be cruel, low, selfish, as in That was a mean thing to say, or The game has some really mean bad guys. It can also be associated to being cheapish, stingy, as in My landlord is vey mean with the heating. However, mean may also be positive, I mean, very positive, like excellent, great, awesome. For instance, I can cook a mean lasagna. Or That kid is a mean guitar player.

As a verb, mean is related to the meaning of words, such as in What does “democracy” mean? But in the conversation above it refers to clarifying what the speaker had just said, What do you mean? Finally, if you really want to say something, you can emphasize it by saying I mean it. For example,

 

You’re not saying I’m cruel, are you?

Yes, I am. You are. Believe me, I mean it.

Tags: confusable words / mean / tips for Brazilian speakers of English /


About Themer Bastos

I'm Themer and I've been teaching English for almost 30 years. It's one of my passions. I've also written some books you can check out at themerbastos.com. Hope you enjoy my posts.


Vocabulary Practice: Security or safety? Argument or discussion?
14-11-2014

What’s the difference between security and safety, and argument and discussion? My students asked me these questions the other day. And it was at the beginning of class, right on the spot. I told them what it was and stole their idea for this post. Security is the state of being protected or safe from […]

Vocabulary Practice: Security or safety? Argument or discussion?

by Themer Bastos

What’s the difference between security and safety, and argument and discussion? My students asked me these questions the other day. And it was at the beginning of class, right on the spot. I told them what it was and stole their idea for this post.

Security is the state of being protected or safe from harm. So you could say, “after the burglaries, police presence in the neighborhood was enhanced to give a sense of security.”

Safety is the state of not being dangerous or harmful, or the state of being safe. In a sentence, you could read, “I’m talking about the safety of these people.” They are very similar words that are used in different collocations.

An argument is an angry disagreement or quarrel, a verbal fight. Take, “the couple’s arguments were often loud enough to be heard all over the neighborhood.” You can also use argument to refer to the sentences you use to support a point of view. For instance, “Clara, I’d like to congratulate you on the consistency of your arguments in this essay.”

Discussion is the act of talking about something with another person or a group of people, a conversation about something. For example, “last class we had an excellent discussion on the political consequences of the recent presidential elections.”

That’s all for today.

Tags: confusable words / English students / English Tips / English tips for Brazilian students /


About Themer Bastos

I'm Themer and I've been teaching English for almost 30 years. It's one of my passions. I've also written some books you can check out at themerbastos.com. Hope you enjoy my posts.


Résumé, summary and resume
12-11-2014

Some words tend to cause confusion among students. For instance, resume, résumé and summary. Let’s start with the last one: summary is a brief statement that gives the most important information about something. Say, she was called by the police and gave them a summary of the accident.As an adjective, summary is the same as […]

Résumé, summary and resume

by Themer Bastos

Some words tend to cause confusion among students. For instance, resume, résumé and summary.

Let’s start with the last one: summary is a brief statement that gives the most important information about something. Say, she was called by the police and gave them a summary of the accident.As an adjective, summary is the same as concise, as in she elaborated a summary listing of the year’s main events.

Resume is a verb which means begin again after stopping, or go back to something. For example, resume is the button you press in a printer when it somehow stops printing. Or, she finally resumed her work after leaving the hospital.

Lastly, résumé is a French word used to refer to curriculum vitae, or CV. “I’ve just sent you my résumé by e-mail. Can you please check if you received it?”

Tags: Brazilian Speakers of English / confusable words / english tip / tips for Brazilian speakers of English /


About Themer Bastos

I'm Themer and I've been teaching English for almost 30 years. It's one of my passions. I've also written some books you can check out at themerbastos.com. Hope you enjoy my posts.