Port, harbour, dock, wharf, quay, pier, mole and jetty: fight!

431201_10151412050924434_2116400162_nDuring my trip to Canada I stayed in a coastal city – Vancouver – where I heard these words a lot. Being born and raised in a Brazilian inland city – Blumenau – the definition of those words were overlapping inside my head; I couldn’t understand their differences and neither could some native Canadians. When I asked them some would stop to think about it and start discussing with each other whether a specific place is a quay or harbour, for instance.

Now, after researching (i.e. googling) for a while, I’m here to share with you what I’ve found.

Ready?

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Many or much? Few or little? Know what you can count.

531969_55075139Some things you can count but other ones you cannot.
That’s the reason you have to be careful when using “many” or “much”, for instance. Let me make it clear: some words can only be used with things you can relate to a quantity, i.e. a specified amount.

So you want to use indefinite quantifiers – words you put in front of a noun which are not quantities but represent “how much” it is – but you are not sure when to use them?
It’s easier than you think.

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They’re not “f”, “s”, “d” nor “t”; they’re the “th” sounds.

th_mouth_position_YYBFor non-native English speakers these sounds might be very difficult to be learnt. There’re 2 standard sounds represented by the letters “th” in English.
And there is no way out: you can’t replace them with sounds you consider ”alike”. They’re unique sounds and once you learn them you – and others – will notice a watershed in your English pronunciation ability.

When travelling for instance, people may not understand if you pronounce “three” and “tree” the same; they might get what you’re saying from the context but still, this kind of mistake definitely affects the quality of the communication.

Let’s dive into it, shall we?

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Assume vs presume: don’t assume it!

664535_23124841You have probably noticed that I love to watch words fighting. :P
I mean, there are so many words that look very similar and can have the same meaning in some contexts, that we just ignore their diferences. We assume their meanings.

A friend and former teacher of mine, Vicky, told me something her father says: “don’t assume, or you might be making an ass out of you and me“. Clever, eh?

So, do you really know the difference between assume and presume?
I didn’t. And I’ve just found a video that will…

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Trademarks that became words. Part 1.

Trademarks are symbols and words used to identify a company, product or service (called servicemark in this sense). More than that, they’re managed by specialized organizations which not only take care of trademarks but intellectual property as a whole. Usually, each country has one of those organizations, often a branch of its government, which may – and usually does – follow WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) guidelines. That said, trademarks are not kid stuff; to register one you have to overcome many legal bureaucratic expensive barriers. That’s one of the reasons companies get really angry when they feel their ideas were stolen or copied. And the law is on their side.

Enough about bureaucratic mumbo jumbo; let’s talk about languages!

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