Saturday, 22 September 2012


A man is worried that his wife is losing her hearing, so he consults a doctor. The doctor suggests that he try a simple at-home test on her: Stand behind her and ask her a question first from twenty feet away, next from ten feet, and finally right behind her.

So the man goes home and sees his wife in the kitchen facing the stove. He says from the door, “What’s for dinner tonight?”

No answer.

Ten feet behind her, he repeats, “What’s for dinner tonight?”

Still, no answer.

Finally, right behind her he says, “What’s for dinner tonight?”

And his wife turns around and says, “For the third time—chicken!”

2. A 103-year-old woman in Wales is the oldest Facebook user. It just goes to show you that you’re never too old to waste your precious time.

3. Jean Paul, a Cajun, moved to Texas and bought a donkey from an old famer for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day. The next day the farmer drove up and said, “Sorry, but I got some bad news. The donkey died.”

“Well then, just give me my money back.”

“Can’t do that, I went and spent it already.”

“OK then, just unload the donkey.”

“What are you gonna do with him?”

“I’m gonna raffle him off.”

“You can’t raffle off a dead donkey!”

“Sure, I can. Watch me. I just won’t tell anyone he’s dead.”

A month later the farmer met up with the Cajun and asked, “What happened with the dead donkey?”

“I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at $2 a piece and made a profit of $898.”

“Didn’t anyone complain?”

“Just the guy who won. So I gave him his $2 back.”

4. A woman goes to a spiritualist—a medium. She wants to get in touch with the spirit of her dead husband. The medium goes into a trance and after a while a voice comes out.

“Barbara,” it says, “Are you there?”

“That’s Jack,” the wife says, “I’d know his voice anywhere. Jack, tell me…where you are…is it nice?”

“Barbara, it’s absolutely gorgeous…The sky is beautiful blue with pretty white clouds…

and the cows…Barbara, I really wish you could see these cows. Brown cows, black cows, white cows—such beautiful cows I’ve never seen, never in my whole life.”

“But… Jack, I didn’t know they had cows in Heaven.”

“Who’s talking about Heaven? I’m a bull in Argentina!”

5.There was a young fellow of Kochi,

Who lived with three wives at one time.

When asked: “Why the third?”

He replied: “One’s absurd,

And bigamy, sir, is a crime.”

6. Three old men were sitting on a front porch comparing their memories. The first one says “I remember being in a stroller, I must have been two.

The second one says “I remember standing up in the crib and looking around.”

The third one says “You both have lousy memories, I remember going to a picnic

with my dad and coming home with my mom.”

7. Why aren’t elephants allowed in the swimming pool?

Because they can’t keep their trunks up.

8. The wife was in front of the divorce judge and said, “All I’m asking is that my husband should leave me the way he found me.”

Slightly taken aback, the judge said, “But lady, that’s impossible.”

“Why impossible?” she persisted. “He found me as a widow, didn’t he?”

9. If everyone owned a horse, the country would be more stabilized.

10. A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six-year-olds. After explaining the commandment to “Honor thy father and mother,” she asked, “Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?”

One little boy replied, “Thou shalt not kill.”

11. Why can’t you eat carrots with fingers?

Carrots don’t have fingers.

12. Scientists think they can now clone an all-white zebra. Isn’t that called a horse?

PS: If you have some jokes or anecdotes pl send them.  We can share it.                       

Omission of Articles

Omission of the Articles:
Cases Where Articles are Not Used

The articles are not used:

1. Before proper, material and abstract nouns used in a general sense:

London, France, Tom, gold, rice, honesty, virtue

Paris is the capital of France. (NOT The Paris is …)

Gold is a precious metal. (NOT The gold is a …)

Honesty is the best policy.

But we say, the United States, the United Arab Emirates etc.

2. Before a common noun used in its commonest sense:

Man is mortal.

Iron is a useful metal.

3. In certain phrases made up of a preposition + noun:

Examples are: on foot, at school, from top to bottom, at home, in bed, by train, by car, in debt, in hand, on earth, at noon, on board, in jest, at best, at worst etc.

He is in debt. (NOT He is in the debt.)

He is at school. (NOT He is at the school.)

He spent the whole day in bed.

4. In certain phrases consisting of a transitive verb and its object:

Give ear, set sail, take heart, send word, catch fire, take offence, leave office, leave home, leave office etc.

He took offence at my words. (BUT NOT He took the offence at my words.)
She left home in the morning. (BUT NOT She left the home in the morning.)

5. Before the names of continents, countries, capes, cities, towns, days, months, arts, languages, sciences, some diseases etc.

January, March, physics, English, Tokyo, Beijing, Delhi, Tuesday, Friday, Asia, America etc.

December is a cold month.

English is spoken all over the world.

6. Before common nouns when they go in pairs:

Both husband and wife received serious injuries.

7. Before plural nouns used to denote a class:

Apples are red.

Camels are useful animals.

Warm clothes are necessary in cold climates.

8. Before the nouns following kind of:

What kind of flower is it? (NOT What kind of a flower is it?)

9. Before meal-time

He was at dinner.

Breakfast was served at night. (BUT NOT The breakfast was served at night.)

Some special points

Compare the pairs of sentences given below:

I have a black and white cow. (Only one cow)

I have a black and a white cow. (Two cows)

The secretary and accountant is present. (Here the nouns secretary and accountant refer to the same person.)

The secretary and the accountant were present. (Here the repetition of the articles implies that the secretary and the accountant are different persons.)

( Reference:Encyclopadea of Idioms and usage; Oxford  UTY Press)
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Sunday Idioms- 20

The English language is one of the vastest and most vivid languages in the world. It is made up of over 1.5 million words. Over and above that, the same word can have a variety of different meanings depending on the context it is put in; two (or more) words can have the exact same spelling but are pronounced differently, depending on their meanings.

Today's article will mainly focus on those combinations of words which are commonly referred to as idioms or idiomatic expressions . It is important to point out that idioms use language in a non-literal (and sometimes metaphorical) way.

The meaning of the idiomatic expression cannot be deduced by looking at the meaning of the individual words that it is made up of' (Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language, David Crystal). Another important feature to point out is that idioms are fixed, which means that people cannot just decide to make up their own.

The following is a list of some of the most widely-used idioms in everyday English and their meanings.

Idioms, can you guess their meanings? (Answers below)

1. A penny for your thoughts

2. Add insult to injury

3. A hot potato

4. Once in a blue moon

5. Caught between two stools

6. See eye to eye

7. Hear it on the grapevine

8. Miss the boat

9. Kill two birds with one stone

10. On the ball

11. Cut corners

12. To hear something straight from the horse's mouth

13. Costs an arm and a leg

14. The last straw

15. Take what someone says with a pinch of salt

16. Sit on the fence

17. The best of both worlds

18. Put wool over other people's eyes

19. Feeling a bit under the weather

20. Speak of the devil!


1. This idiom is used as a way of asking someone what they are thinking about.

2. When people add insult to injury, they make a bad situation even worse.

3. This idiom is used to speak of an issue (especially in current affairs) which many people are talking about.

4. This is used when something happens very rarely.

5. When someone finds it difficult to choose between two alternatives.

6. This idiom is used to say that two (or more people) agree on something.

7. This means ‘to hear a rumour' about something or someone.

8. This idiom is used to say that someone missed his or her chance at something.

9. This means ‘to do two things at the same time'.

10. When someone understands the situation well.

11. When something is done badly to save money. For example, when someone buys products that are cheap but not of good quality.

12. To hear something from the authoritative source.

13. When something is very expensive.

14. The final problem in a series of problems.

15. This means not to take what someone says too seriously. There is a big possibility that what he/she says is only partly true.

16. This is used when someone does not want to choose or make a decision.

17. All the advantages.

18. This means to deceive someone into thinking well of them.

19. Feeling slightly ill.

20. This expression is used when the person you have just been talking about arrives.
Now,frame sentences and send them to me to be published in your  name.

                                (Courtesy of Elanguest Language School)

Vocab - 16 sep


1. While a certain amount of stress is healthy, worrying constantly, even about trivia, can wreak havoc on our mind and body in the long run.

2. “I need something to worry about — a stopgap maybe — till the real one shows up.”

3. Suchi isn’t a standal WORRYWART.

4. Darn, add that to the worry list!”

5. “My super worrier mother told me to expect the worst, so when it happened we would be prepared.” 1 What if nothing did? “It’s a happy surprise!” Crazy!

6. Yeah, we can worry about any topic. Wish there's a way to outsource it.

7. “Research points to deficits/imbalances in neuro-chemicals in the brain (such as serotonin, noradrenaline) that could make one vulnerable to chronic worrying.” It needn’t be purely biological, either.

8. Dr. Keerthi has a slew of suggestions to keep it in check.

9. “Even with illnesses such as cancer, people who are positive get better faster and don’t have as many relapses. When you fear there is a problem lurking somewhere, you forget there is a solution somewhere too.

10. I know a family that takes turns basket cane “worry chair” and rock.

11. Looking after an Alzheimer’s patient is a big challenge, and it takes a toll on the caregiver.

12. But there have been cases where Alzheimer’s patients have been consigned to old-age homes.

13. He says nonchalantly: “A parent who is both old and suffering memory-loss is a double problem… more than my wife and I can handle.”

14. A friend, who has septuagenarian in-laws, asks Annapurna about the “burden of being a caregiver”. A mistake!

                                                                  ( Courtesy Gagan)

Saturday, 15 September 2012

One word Substitution - 1

An expression followed by four words is given in each of the following questions. The expression carries the meaning of one of the words. Find out the word.

1. A person with a generous heart.

(a) Stoic; (b) fanatic; (c) magnanimous; (d) malevolent.

2. One who knows everything.

(a) Omnipresent; (b) omnipotent; (c) omniscient; (d) ubiquitous.

3. Use of ambiguous words to mislead the hearers.

(a) Verbatim; (b) locution; (c) equivocation; (d) malapropism.

4. Roundabout way of speaking.

(a) Circumnavigation; (b) circumvention; (c) circumlocution; (d) circumscription.

5. A person who believes whatever is told to him.

(a) Bibulous; (b) meticulous; (c) callous; (d) credulous.

6. Custom of a woman having many husbands.

7. (a) Polygamy; (b) bigamy; (c) polyandry; (d) monogamy.

8. A person capable of using both hands equally well.

(a) ambidextrous; (b) amphibious; (c) ambiguous; (d) amphibian.

9. To do away with a law.

(a) arrogate; (b) alienate; (c) aggravate; (d) abrogate.

10. A government by officials.

(a) Plutocracy; (b) oligarchy; (c) bureaucracy; (d) aristocracy.

11. A man who does not believe in the existence of God.

(a) agnostic; (b) ascetic; (c) theist (d) atheist.

12. Very much concerned and anxious.

(a) sombre; (b) conciliatory; (c) impetuous; (d) solicitous.

13. Long lasting deep bitterness or ill-will.

(a) Rancour; (b) grouse; (c) empathy; (d) enormity.

14. Showy but of little value.

(a) Luxurious; (b) decorative; (c) extrovert; (d) trumpery.

15. Concerned with practical ideas or views.

(a) Orthodox; (b) pragmatic; (c) sensitive; (d) apprehensive.

16. Careful watching over possible wrongdoing.

(a) Surveillance; (b) supervision; (c) servitude; (d) reconnaissance.

17. Having a quarrelsome character.

(a) Haughty; (b) opponent; (c) belligerent; (d) salubrious.

18. A collection of parts into a mass of sum-total.

(a) Aggregate; (b) congregate; (c) wholesome; (d) ultimate.

19. Capable of reducing pain.

(a) Seductive; (b) palliative; (c) fugitive; (d) vindicative.

20. One who evaluates or judges fine art.

(a) adjudicator; (b) artisan; (c) critic; (d) connoisseur.


1. A person with a generous heart is (a) “magnanimous”.

2. One who knows everything is © “omniscient”.

3. Use of ambiguous words to mislead the hearers is (c) “equivocation”.

4. Roundabout way of speaking is (c) “circumlocution”.

5. A person who believes whatever is told to him is (d) “credulous”.

6. Custom of a woman having many husbands is (c) “polyandry”.

7. A person capable of using both hands equally well is “ambidextrous”.

8. To do away with a law is (d) “abrogate”.

9. A government by officials is(c) “bureaucracy”.

10. A man who does not believe in the existence of God is (d) “atheist”.

11. Very much concerned and anxious is (d) “solicitous”.

12. Long lasting deep bitterness or ill-will is (a)“Rancour”.

13. Showy but of little value is (d) “trumpery”.

14. Concerned with practical ideas or views is (b) “pragmatic”.

15. Careful watching over possible wrongdoing is (a)“Surveillance”.

16. Having a quarrelsome character is (c) “belligerent”.

17. A collection of parts into a mass of sum-total is (a) “Aggregate”.

18. Capable of reducing pain is (b) “palliative”.

19. One who evaluates or judges fine art is (d) “connoisseur”.

20. A hastily made obstacle to prevent something is (c ) “ Barricade”.

Note: You have, here 20 x 4 = 80 words! How many of them do you know? Use ALD Oxford or Cambridge to find out their precise meaning. If you want a dictionary pl contact me;

Friday, 14 September 2012

Again From Gaganan The Hindu dt.12-09-12

1. To illustrate the significance of interventionist strategy in controlling suicidal rates in high-risk areas, she narrated the experience in Srinivasapuram and Kasimedu.

2. To unravel the truth, research has to be carried out, including studies on women in Chennai and on those in the semi-urban and rural parts of Tamil Nadu,” said Lakshmi Vijaykumar, psychiatrist and founder of Sneha, a suicide prevention group, during a discussion on World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10)

3. The sanctions, imposed in the face of warnings that they could jeopardise relations with Pakistan, a long standing patron of the Haqqanis, are the latest in a series of similar measures

4. For all the sound and fury surrounding the sanctions, though, terrorists they are designed to intimidate seem just as unimpressed as the Somali militias Mr. Clinton railed against.

5. they’ve also proven to be remarkably artful dodgers

6. an assets freeze, a travel ban and an arms embargo are not easily applied in a country

7. Early this year, the United Nations Security Council received grim testimony from the eight-member

8. Taliban’s finances rarely touched the banking system, making interdiction impossible.

9. the contracting firm paid a staggering $1 million annually to a local strongman suspected of having links to the Haqqani network

10. In the Sahel, the al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, has cashed in on the chaos in Libya, and significantly expanded its arsenal.

11. We live in a legal environment where the rule of sub judice is regarded as an anachronism, emanating from a time when all trials were decided by jurors susceptible to influence by what was published in the press.

12. which regulates the dissemination of matter under the consideration of the court

13. Indeed, by emphasising the right of an aggrieved person to seek postponement of media coverage of an ongoing case by approaching the appropriate writ court, there is a danger that gag orders may become commonplace

14. Amendment trumps any restriction placed on rights to free speech, the courts have evolved “neutralising devices”

15. India has shown it has the ability to move forward from the 2008 attacks in Mumbai while hoping Pakistan brings the perpetrators to book; for its own sake too, it is important that Islamabad does this, and clamps down on terror outfits.

VA from Gaganan

The following is a contribution from GAGANAN DDESHINGER. He collected thse sentences for vocab and usage fron "The Hindu" dt 13-09-12.
Thanks Gaganan.

1. We are paying now for the loss of political nerve and our penchant for expediency, which was underscored by our abject surrender in 2010, when the CAG report on 2G came out

(abject cowardice, abject poverty; an abject)

2. He said the latter was suffering from ‘paralysis’ as it was not allowing Parliament to function, returning the barb directed at the government by the Opposition. ( Irony: just see the meaning of parley, does it say something about parliament? !!! )

3. The violence that the agitation against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project degenerated into this week had an unfortunate ring of foreordination about it

4. The police, who at the best of times need little prompting to resort to force, responded with tear gas and lathis.

5. As people across the world remember the victims of 9/11, we have been served a reminder that the grim forces that brought it about are far from spent

6. For months now, Libya has been witnessing an ever-escalating spiral of violencespearheaded by jihadist groups hostile to the U.S. Egypt, for its part, has seen serious conflict in the Sinai.

7. It has long been clear that the realities of the ‘new Middle East’ the West claimed to have midwifed during the so-called Arab Spring don’t quite match the hype

8. The assassinated American envoy helped establish U.S. presence in rebel-held Benghazi in the war that swept away Muammar Qaddafi’s regime. (please see the usage, after “help” infinitive is used directly, without “to”)

9. With presidential and Congressional elections around the corner, it will be tempting for U.S. politicians to respond to his killing with shows of machismo.

10. Given that 90 per cent of our coal, more than 50 per cent of minerals and most prospective dam sites are in Adivasi regions, there is likely to be continuing contention over issues of land acquisition in these areas.

11. To support relocation, each PAF will get a subsistence grant

12. They are also reassured by the fact that land compensation provided will not be taken as the base for circle rates for subsequent acquisitions, so as to avoid a speculative price spiral.

13. The operation of the draconian urgency clause of the 1894 law has also been strictly circumscribed.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Foreign Words and Phrases

Foreign words and phrases commonly used in English

ab initio ( Latin) - from the beginning.

ad hoc (Latin) – for a particular purpose only.

Ad infinitum (Latin) – limitless, for ever.

Ad interim (Latin) – in the mean time.

Ad valorem (Latin) – according to the value.

Alma Mater (Latin) - used for the university or school attended.

Alter ego (Latin) - one’s second self

A priori (Latin) – based on theoretical deduction.

Au revoir (French) – good bye till we meet again.

Bête noire (French) –a person or thing disliked.

Bona fide (Latin) – in good faith.

Bon voyage (French) – have a good journey.

Coup d’ etat (French) –unconstitutional change of government.

De facto (Latin) in actual fact.

De jure (Latin) – according to law.

De novo (Latin) – anew.

Détente (French) – relaxation of strained relations.

En bloc (French) – in a body.

En route (French) – on the way.

Ex gratia (Latin) – as in ‘ex gratia payment’ meaning payment not legally binding but for which some moral obligation is felt.

Ex officio (Latin) - by virtue of one’s office.

Fait accompli (French)- a thing already done.

Faux pas (French) – a false step, an indiscreet remark.

Modus operandi (Latin) – mode ofoperation.

Mala fide (Latin) – in bad faith.

Nouveau riche (French) - people who have recently become rich and who display their wealth in a tasteless way.

Par excellence (French) – of the highest degree.

Prima facie (Latin) – on the first view.

Quid pro quo (Latin) – something given or taken in place of another.

Sine die (Latin) - without a day appointed.

Status quo (Latin)- the current situation.

Sub judice (Latin) - under judicial consideration.

Ultra vires (Latin) – beyond the power of law.

Volte face (French) - complete change.

Vis-à-vis – in comparison with

Note: Use ALD Oxford or Cambridge to practise the pronunciation of each item.

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In each of the question, there are five sentences. Each sentence has pairs of words that are highlighted. Select the most appropriate word/words.


1.Racism and such related beliefs are aberrant(A) /abhorrent(B) to a modern day civilized society.

2. Although she has got a job, in these days of recession, she seems to feel ambivalent (A)/ambiguous (B) about it.

3. Kumar’s eyes coolly appraised (A)/ apprised (B) the young woman before him.

4. The climatic (A)/ climactic (B) moment of a lightening storm, nature’s most dramatic event, is a deafening thunder.

5. The lady was charged with living off immoral (A)/ amoral (B) earning.


1. The step-mother was contemptible (A) / contemptuous (B) of everything the girl did.

2. Radha allowed herself to be convinced (A) / persuaded (B) into entering the competition.

3. Before displaying his spectacular skills, the magician made an allusion (A) / illusion (B) to the magic of Houdini.

4. The conversation was mostly incipient (A)/ insipid (B) and so I left.

5. We were in the insidious (A) / invidious (B) position of having to choose whether to break the law or risk our lives.


1. The principal’s speech was nothing but laudable (A) laudatory (B) , she expressed her admiration for her students.

2. Most serial killers have a morbid (A) / moribund (B) fascination with blood.

3. Throughout human history, people have been prosecuted (A) / persecuted (B) for their religious beliefs.

4. Although the construction of the new lab is a necessity, it is hardly practical (A) / practicable (B) in this tiny building.

5. I am drawn to the poetic, sensuous (A)/ sensual (B) qualities of her paintings.



1. The correct word in statement is (B). "abhorrent” which means repugnant/ causing hatred, as we say ‘abhorrent to’. Aberrant means, not usual or not socially acceptable.

2. The correct word is ambivalent (A) having both good and bad feelings. Ambiguous means ‘not clear’.

3. The correct word is ‘appraise(A), means to consider examine somebody. “apprise” means to tell or inform somebody.

4. The correct word is ‘immoral” (A)., ‘ not considered to be good or honest’. Amoral means “not caring about right and wrong”.

5. The correct word is climactic (B) which means “related to the climax”. Climatic is ‘connected to climate” .


1. The correct word is contemptuous (B), ‘showing that you have no respect for someone.” contemptible means ‘despicable’, ‘deserving no respect”.

2. The correct word is persuade as it means ‘to make somebody do something’. Convince means ‘ to make somebody believe that something is true’.

3. The correct word is allusion and it means ‘reference in an indirect way’. Illusion is ‘a false idea or belief’.

4. The correct word is insipid which means ‘flavourless or dull’. Incipient means ‘’just beginning’.

5. The correct word is invidious, meaning ‘unpleasant and unfair’. Insidious means ‘ spreading gradually without being noticed’


1. The correct word is laudatory which means ‘expressing praise or admiration’. Laudable means ‘commendable’.

2. The correct word is morbid which means ‘having strong interest in sad or unpleasant things’. Moribund means ‘ in a dying condition’.

3. The correct word is persecuted which means ‘to treat someone in a cruel and unfair way’. Prosecute means ‘to officially charge someone with a crime in a court’.

4. The correct word is practicable which means ‘ feasible’/ ‘able to be done’. Practical means ‘ be connected with real situation rather than ideas or theories’.

5. The correct word is sensuous which means ‘giving pleasure to your senses’. Sensual means ‘connected with your physical feelings’.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Vocab for the Week

In each of the following questions, the word at the top is used in five different ways, numbered 1 to 5. Choose the option that is incorrect /inappropriate.


1. Lie on a firm mattress to avoid a backache.

2. The new firm has several plans for expansion.

3. Workouts at the gym will help to firm flabby muscles.

4. The government should stay form and not give in to the demands of the hijackers.

5. This is a residential school and the kids here need a firm hand to make them behave.


1. Insects, especially cockroaches, can live on anything.

2. All the farmers in this remote village live off their lands.

3. Where one lives reflects one’s status.

4. The live concert attracted a record audience.

5. It is not easy to live up somebody’s expectations.


1. Rohana couldn’t help but worry about her mother after the latter had a heart attack.

2. You can help yourself to anything that is on the table.

3. Just scolding the children will not help in correcting their ways.

4. The hostess gave children an extra help of ice cream.

5. She was more a hindrance than a help.


1. The soldiers fought bravely though they knew it was in vain.

2. It’s a trivial matter and not worth fighting.

3. Neha had to fight a legal battle to get the custody of her children.

4. The rebel army fought its way to the capital last week.

5. It is time to fight back against corruption in Indian bureaucray.


1. Sentence 3 must be ‘firm up’ meaning to make or become firmer or more solid.

2. In sentence 5 it should be ‘live up to’. When you live up to somebody’s expectations, you are as good as they expect you to be.

3. The usage of the word help in sentence 4 is wrong. It should be “helping” (meaning a serving) in the context.

4. In the sentence 2, it should be “…. Not worth fighting over/about/for”