Admit it – when someone tells you that he/she’s learning English, and it’s very
difficult, chances are that you don’t help or comfort them by giving some tips,
sharing your personal hacks or doing anything that can make the studying process
for them easier. You act in quite a contrary way: you say something like “Oh, wait
till you start exploring Future in the Past or all the applications of past participle –
that’s when the real fun starts”. And this article is written exactly to replenish your
supplies of tricky grammar gimmicks so that you could make people crazy when
they are whining about English being so hard. Let’s see what this language has got
1. Half Is or Are?
Everybody is used to the fact that “half” is singular and when you need the plural
form, you just make it “halves”. But that’s not always the case: when you say,
“Half of the sugar is spilt on the floor”, you are in the safe bay. However, when
you see something like “Half of my tools are hidden in the garage”, it’s not a
mistake. Explain this to your friend who has already submitted a writing
assignment with “Half of the casualties is hospitalized”; maybe he should address
2. Go Missing and Go Begging
because it’s hard to make heads or tails with all the phrasal verbs and idioms, tell
them about “go missing” and “go begging”. These two phrases don’t mean any
walking action though they contain the most actionable word in English – “to go”.
But as it happens in some grammar rules of this language, “to go missing” means
just to become missing, and “to go begging” stands for staying available or open.
See? Told ya.
3. English Likes Ambiguity
Think about the combination of words “next Tuesday” and consider how you
understand it. Today’s Monday, so is it tomorrow or in a week? Well, nobody
knows that. And let’s imagine that you need to write an essay until Thursday, and
today’s Tuesday. Does it mean that you have only 24 hours or you can submit this
urgent paper on Thursday as well? Again, nobody knows. “Next” and “until” are
very ambiguous, and you need to get to the bottom of them each time to make sure
you understand everything right. And this is only a drop in the ocean …
4. Men Who Fire Staff up the Company as Well
Wow, it seems that you’ve read this sentence too fast. Come again. Better? No?
Well, before you spend an hour puzzling out the meaning, we will tell you a secret
– the word “staff” is a verb here. And this whole phenomenon is called a garden
path sentence – a correct sentence regarding grammar that the majority of people
misinterpret at first sight. This is a perfect tool to drive English learners crazy!
Let’s take the word “to dust” which stands for cleaning and making a mess,
“chuffed” which means “content” and “displeased”, or “to peruse” which is “to
read very closely” as well as “to scan”. The Jackie Chan meme perfectly expresses
the whole range of your emotions you feel right now, and just imagine you tell this
someone who thinks that “hard” and “difficult” are impossible to distinguish.
The English language has many hidden challenges, and it’s wise to reach a
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