Talk about confusing! Which is which, and how do we know when we should use "all together" versus "altogether?"
Don't feel badly if you are having difficulty determining how to use the words "all together" and "altogether" correctly. Most of us do! The word "altogether" is one word, where "all together" is a compound word containing two words. While that doesn't mean anything in spoken English, it does matter in writing. These words sound exactly the same, but have different meanings. Most people don't realize this. As a result, they are misused in speaking and in writing.
Like most things in the English language, there is a great deal of memorizing when it comes to mastering many areas. The areas that lend themselves to confusion include pronunciation, grammar and words that sound the same, just to name a few. This is one of the reasons that many people who learn English as a second language find it so difficult to master. Just so you know, native American English speakers also have difficulty with grammar and word usage!
Let's take a look at each one and the correct way to use them. First, we will talk about the word "altogether."
The word "altogether" is considered an adverb and can have a few definitions. Probably the most common definition is "completely" or "entirely."
"Let's forget about that idea altogether."
"My manager thinks this idea is altogether ridiculous."
"We will have an altogether wonderful time."
The word "altogether" can also mean "with everything included."
"The bill for our dinner came to fifty dollars altogether."
"Altogether, our hotel room cost "$100."
In another example, the adverb "altogether" can occur at the beginning of a sentence to mean "with everything considered."
"Altogether, I think this project will be very valuable."
So you can see from the usages above, the word "altogether" can be used in a few different situations with slightly different meanings.
Now let's take a look at the words "all together."
The word "all together" is a compound word because it is made up of two words that go together. This word means "all in a group" or "everyone together."
"We went to dad's birthday party all together."
Here is another example:
"Are we going all together in my car?"
Now that you are completely confused, will you forget about these two words altogether or will you give a shot and memorize them?
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A reminder that one word in the English language that can be a noun, verb, adjective, adverb and preposition. "UP"
This two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word is 'UP.' It is listed in the dictionary as an [adv], [prep], [adj], [n] or [v].
It's easy to understand UP , meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ?
At a meeting, why does a topic come UP ? Why do we speak UP , and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP our friends, brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car.
At other times, this little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.
To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special
And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.
We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!
To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP , look UP the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.
If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP , you may wind UP with a hundred or more.
When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP . When the sun comes out, we say it is clearing UP . When it rains, the earth soaks it UP . When it does not rain for awhile, things dry UP .
One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP , for now . . . my time is UP !
We have all heard the term “millennial” and know that it is the term typically used to describe individuals born between the early 1980’s and mid 1990’s. Individuals born during this time often have some unique styles of speaking.
Do you speak like a millennial? Here are a few ways to tell:
You might sound like a millennial if:
So, dude, speak more slowly to sound experienced and, like, end your sentences with a downward pitch so people don’t think you are asking questions or pausing all the time. At work, be as professional as possible, and you will quickly be viewed as a person who takes their work seriously. I know, right?
"I couldn't care less" versus "I could care less." Which one do you use, and do they mean the same thing?
Expressions are so common in American English that we use them constantly and don't even think about them. Some expressions, though, are sometimes said differently, depending on where a person grew up or what they heard as a child.
Take the expression, "I couldn't care less." When someone says something that you really don't care about at all, this is the expression that we use. Some people, however, say "I could care less" to mean the same thing. Are they the same?
If we take a look at them, they we would say no, they don't mean the same thing. If you tell me something that I don't care about and I respond by saying, "I could care less," it means that I still care a little bit, so there is room to not care more.
There is no doubt as to how I feel if I use the expression, "I couldn't care less" in this situation, is there?
So, when you hear people say, "I could care less," keep in mind that many people use it but it is not standard English. The correct expression is "I couldn't care less."
Do you want to improve your spoken English? Many non-native speakers of English complain that Americans can't understand their speech, and they don't know what to do about it. Here are two simple tips that will help you speak clearly instantly!
Rule 1: Open your mouth and move your lips when you speak.
Many languages don't require speakers to open their mouths and move their lips much at all. When they go to speak English, they naturally keep their teeth close together and their lips fairly flat. Does this sound familiar?
When you speak American English, opening your mouth and moving your lips is a must. If you watch any good public speaker, then you'll know what I mean. Pay attention to opening your mouth more when you say vowels. Creating a little more space in your mouth goes a long way in improving speech clarity.
Rule 2: Reduce your speaking rate
Many languages are spoken more quickly than American English. Chances are, your native language is one of them. Combine a fast speaking rate with an accent, and you have someone who Americans most likely have a hard time understanding.
Speaking more slowly doesn't mean speaking TOO slowly. It means slowing down enough so that you have time to form all of the sounds and syllables in words. People who naturally speak quickly often omit run their words together, so a sound or part of a word may be missing. Speaking more slowly can also mean that you pause more often when you speak, and always pause at the end of a sentence.
The nextt time you speak, keep these two tips in mind. They will help you reduce your accent and speak more clearly!
It is said that English is one of the most difficult languages to learn as a second language, and rightly so! For individuals whose native language is English, the language obviously appears very easy for them because they grew up with it and speak it naturally. For someone who speaks English as a second language, however, there are several areas that most people find very difficult to learn and master. This article will review and discuss some of the most difficult aspects of English, as it pertains to this population.
1. Pronunciation differences can be very challenging.
When a person learns English as a second language, they must learn some new sounds that are not in their native language. Each person brings with them some of the sounds from their native language that are most similar to American English sounds. But, because these sounds don't match exactly, these differences create accents. The heavier the accent, the more difficult a person's speech is to understand. Probably the most commonly used sound and the most difficult to learn is the "r" sound because it can be a consonant and a vowel. The America English "r" sound is also formed differently than in most other languages. Other sounds that tend to be challenging are "w","v", "t","d","th", "ih" and "ee."
2. American English grammar has many exceptions to the rules!
English grammar has what we call "regular forms" which follow specific rules and "irregular forms" that don't. Both have to be learned, which makes English grammar very difficult!
Let's look at the following examples:
Regular plural words: To form regular plural words in English, just add an "s" or "es" to the end of the noun.
For example, the word "hat" changes to "hats", and the word "bus" changes to "buses". Easy, right?
That would be great if that's all there was to it, but wait a minute, not so fast! Just when you are thinking, "Hey, this isn't so bad", now you learn that there are just as many plurals that don't follow the rules. Irregular plurals can stay the same as the singular form or can change completely. These must be memorized.
For example, "mouse" changes to "mice", "goose" changes to "geese", and "ox" changes to "oxen".
Forming past tense verbs:
Verbs in English must not only agree with the subject, but are formed in specific ways to indicate tense.
Regular verbs are verbs that follow the rules. For the past tense this means that they will always add "ed" to the end.
Let's take a look at an example:
The verb "to walk" is a regular verb. To form the past tense, add "ed" to "walk", forming "walked."
Irregular verbs are verbs that do not add "ed" at the end when forming past tense. These verbs may stay the same or change completely in spelling.
The verb "drive" changes to "drove"
The verb "say" changes to "said"
3. English is not a phonetic language.
In some languages, it is easy to sound out a word because the sounds that letters make stay the same. English is not one of these languages, which makes it very difficult to learn. In English, there are many instances when a letter or series of letters do not say what you would think they would say, and they may not even be consistent.
Look at the following example of the letters "ough" in words. So confusing!
"ough" can say several different sounds:
"ough" in "rough" says "uff"
"ough" in "ought" says "aw"
"ough" in "though" says "oh"
"ough" in "through" says "oo"
"ough" in "bough" says "ow"
Yes, English can be very challenging to learn. With patience and dedication, however, one can significantly improve their spoken and written English. Practice makes perfect!
Each person we meet forms an impression of us, based on what we look like, our hand shake, our body language, and how we present ourselves in casual, but very important “small talk.” Excelling at small talk goes a long way in creating a lasting impression, and one we hope is favorable.
Many of us are nervous when it comes to speaking with someone new, especially if we are in an interview, or if we are speaking with someone important at work. If we unsure of what to say or are insecure about speaking with new people, we often wonder if what we said presented the impression we wanted to present. What did they think of me? Did I say anything stupid that I will regret later? Did I say anything offensive? We all want people to like us and think highly of us, but not everyone has the gift of gab. We don’t all know how to use small talk successfully. This article will discuss how to use small talk to create a good impression.
1. Conversations are based on give and take.
In every conversation, whether it is a casual or important, the speaker and listener take turns talking and listening. A successful conversation must have that give and take. Knowing that the person we are talking to is listening to us, is interested in what we have to say, and is participating in the conversation is what leaves a favorable impression. If one person does all the talking, then the conversation is one-sided, and that is never a good sign.
2. What is small talk?
Small talk is casual conversation that consists of talking about safe, non-threatening topics that will not offend anyone. We often call this “chit-chat.” Small talk consists of discussing casual, non-threatening topics such as: the weather, sports, family, work, vacations, movies, books, cars, kids, holiday plans, etc.
During light conversations, we try to avoid talking about any topic in which another person may have strong emotions, such as religion or politics. Bringing up a subject that elicits a negative feeling or that results in a heated discussion can be not only a conversation ender, but will most likely create a long-lasting negative impression.
3. Don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation
If you ever feel that you would like to be able to talk to someone new, but just don’t know how to start a conversation, remember that small talk is the way to go. We all have safe subjects in common, so finding one that both you and your listener enjoy discussing is what small talk is all about and is something that is a must in the American culture.
We all have moments when we can't think of the correct word we want to say. These "word retrieval" difficulties happen to everyone from time to time, whether you are a native English speaker or not. If you speak English as a second language, however, this may happen more frequently. This is because your language skills may not be as fully developed as a native speaker.
But there is good news! If you find that you are "stuck" and can't think of the word you want to say, try some of the following strategies to help you get past it.
1. Name a synonym for the word you want to say.
Think of a word that means the same or has a similar meaning to the word you want to say if you get stuck.
Let’s look at some example:
Example 1: large, big, enormous, huge, gigantic are synonyms
There is a large pile of clothes on the floor.
There is a big pile of clothes on the floor.
There is an enormous pile of clothes on the floor.
There is a gigantic pile of clothes on the floor.
Example 2: small, little, and tiny are synonyms
I found a small doll.
I found a little doll.
I found a tiny doll.
2. Describe the word you want to say.
Even if you can't think of the word you want to say, a description of it may help trigger your memory, or your listener will be able to guess it. When you describe a word, try to include as many features of it as possible, including: category it belongs to (fruit, car, clothes), it’s function (what you do with it), what it looks like (size, shape, texture, what it is made of, etc)
Let's look at an example.
What's the name of the game we played the other night when we were at John's house? I remember it was a board game with squares on it and red and black chips for playing pieces. We had to move our pieces to the other side of the board to win. (checkers)
Here’s another example:
The fruit I’m trying to think of it small and oval shaped. It is kind of fuzzy on the outside. You can cut it in half and eat the inside or cut off the skin. You eat it raw. It’s green on the inside. (kiwi)
3. Name the first letter of the word you want to say.
Sometimes, we can’t seem to remember a word, but we know what letter it starts with. This sometimes helps you remember the word you want to say or, given the context it can help your listener guess the word.
For example: I know the first letter of the word is “d”, but I can’t think of the word.
4. Try thinking of an antonym for the word.
An antonym is a word that means the opposite of a word.
Let’s look at some examples:
It's not big or large (small)
It's something that isn't smooth (rough)
It's the opposite of night (day)
In summary, we all experience “word retrieval” problems at one time or another. It can be frustrating when they occur, but we have some strategies that can possibly trigger our memory of the lost word or help our listener say the word for us.
Using the above strategies can be lifesavers, so try to use them whenever you get stuck. It will help alleviate your frustration, anxiety or fear of speaking and will help your listeners understand what you are trying to say!
I should use “who” with “whom?”
There are two words in English that you have heard and most likely used, but one of them may be challenging to use correctly: that would be the word "whom."
Let’s take a look at both “who” and “whom” in more detail, and hopefully it will all make sense.
When to use “who”
The word “who” is used as the subject of a sentence, which means it’s a noun, the person the sentence is about, or the person who is doing the action. It is used as a pronoun. This is the easy word to use correctly in American English.
Who is that?
Who are you?
Who hit my car?
When to use “whom”
The word “whom” is never the subject, it is always what we refer to as the “object of the sentence.” This is the word that most people are not sure how to use or when to use it.
You are going with whom?
Mark recommended whom for the new position?
There are two tricks you can use to tell when to use “whom” that should help make it easier to use correctly.
1. When “whom” is the object of the sentence, you should be able to replace it with “him” or “her”, and the sentence will still be grammatically correct.
You recommended whom for the position?
We can also say: You recommended him for the position?
You recommended her for the position?
The words “whom”, “him” and “her” are all objects of the verb “recommended.”
2. The word “whom” is often used before a preposition. When this happens, we say that “whom” is the object of the preposition. Common prepositions that come just before “whom” may be “with”, “after”, “before”, “over”, “next to”, “under”, etc.
For example: With whom are you driving?
You are in line after whom?
I don’t know from whom that package came.
Now that you know when to use “who” and “whom” correctly, it may sound somewhat weird or awkward to use “whom”, even when it is technically correct. Why is this? American English is changing, and even though grammar rules for these two words still apply, the word “whom” is gradually being used less and less. It may even eventually disappear from the language altogether. When in doubt, use “whom” in a very formal speaking situation, especially is others around you are using it.
As I always say, you cannot go wrong following grammar rules! It just may depend on “with whom” you socialize or “who” is with you!
Cheryl Posey is a licensed and nationally certified speech/language pathologist. She specializes in accent reduction and communication skills training and provides useful tips and suggestions to help you improve your spoken English and reduce your accent with articles from Speaking Your Best's blog. Subscribe today so that you don't miss any articles!