How to Improve Reading Comprehension

The purpose of reading is to connect the ideas on the page to what you already know. If you don't know anything about a subject, then pouring words of text into your mind is like pouring water into your hand. You don't retain much. For example, try reading these numbers: 7516324 This is hard to read and remember. 751-6324 This is easier because of chunking. 123-4567 This is easy to read because of prior knowledge and structure. Similarly, if you like sports, then reading the sports page is easy. You have a framework in your mind for reading, understanding and storing information. Improving Comprehension. Reading comprehension requires motivation, mental frameworks for holding ideas, concentration and good study techniques. Here are some suggestions. Develop a broad background. Broaden your background knowledge by reading newspapers, magazines and books. Become interested in world events. Know the structure of paragraphs. Good writers construct paragraphs that have a beginning, middle and end. Often, the first sentence will give an overview that helps provide a framework for adding details. Also, look for transitional words, phrases or paragraphs that change the topic. Identify the type of reasoning. Does the author use cause and effect reasoning, hypothesis, model building, induction or deduction, systems thinking. Anticipate and predict. Really smart readers try to anticipate the author and predict future ideas and questions. If you're right, this reinforces your understanding. If you're wrong, you make adjustments quicker. Look for the method of organization. Is the material organized chronologically, serially, logically, functionally, spatially or hierarchical? See section 10 for more examples on organization. Create motivation and interest. Preview material, ask questions, discuss ideas with classmates. The stronger your interest, the greater your comprehension. Pay attention to supporting cues. Study pictures, graphs and headings. Read the first and last paragraph in a chapter, or the first sentence in each section. Highlight, summarize and review. Just reading a book once is not enough. To develop a deeper understanding, you have to highlight, summarize and review important ideas. Build a good vocabulary. For most educated people, this is a lifetime project. The best way to improve your vocabulary is to use a dictionary regularly. You might carry around a pocket dictionary and use it to look up new words. Or, you can keep a list of words to look up at the end of the day. Concentrate on roots, prefixes and endings. Going through word-of-the-day of CAT4MBA will definitely help you in this regard. Use a systematic reading technique like SQR3. Develop a systematic reading style, like the SQR3 method and make adjustments to it, depending on priorities and purpose. The SQR3 steps include Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review. Monitor effectiveness. Good readers monitor their attention, concentration and effectiveness. They quickly recognize if they've missed an idea and backup to reread it. Should You Vocalize Words? Yes, although it is faster to form words in your mind rather than on your lips or throat. Eye motion is also important. Frequent backtracking slows you down considerably



The key to performing well on the passages is not the particular reading technique you use (so long as it's neither speed reading nor pre-reading the questions). Rather the key is to become completely familiar with the question types—always less than 6/7 and most of the time its ¾ --so that you can anticipate the questions that might be asked as you read the passage and answer those that are asked more quickly and efficiently. As you become familiar with the questions types, you will gain an intuitive sense for the places from which questions are likely to be drawn. This will give you the same advantage as that claimed by the "pre-reading-the-questions" technique, without the confusion and waste of time. Note, the order in which the questions are asked roughly corresponds to the order in which the main issues are presented in the passage. Early questions should correspond to information given early in the passage, and so on.

The following passage and accompanying questions illustrate the question types.

There are two major systems of criminal procedure in the modern world--the adversarial and the inquisitorial. The former is associated with common law tradition and the latter with civil law tradition. Both systems were historically preceded by the system of private vengeance in which the victim of a crime fashioned his own remedy and administered it privately, either personally or through an agent. The vengeance system was a system of self-help, the essence of which was captured in the slogan "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." The modern adversarial system is only one historical step removed from the private vengeance system and still retains some of its characteristic features. Thus, for example, even though the right to institute criminal action has now been extended to all members of society and even though the police department has taken over the pretrial investigative functions on behalf of the prosecution, the adversarial system still leaves the defendant to conduct his own pretrial investigation. The trial is still viewed as a duel between two adversaries, refereed by a judge who, at the beginning of the trial has no knowledge of the investigative background of the case. In the final analysis the adversarial system of criminal procedure symbolizes and regularizes the punitive combat.

By contrast, the inquisitorial system begins historically where the adversarial system stopped its development. It is two historical steps removed from the system of private vengeance. Therefore, from the standpoint of legal anthropology, it is historically superior to the adversarial system. Under the inquisitorial system the public investigator has the duty to investigate not just on behalf of the prosecutor but also on behalf of the defendant. Additionally, the public prosecutor has the duty to present to the court not only evidence that may lead to the conviction of the defendant but also evidence that may lead to his exoneration. This system mandates that both parties permit full pretrial discovery of the evidence in their possession. Finally, in an effort to make the trial less like a duel between two adversaries, the inquisitorial system mandates that the judge take an active part in the conduct of the trial, with a role that is both directive and protective.

Fact-finding is at the heart of the inquisitorial system. This system operates on the philosophical premise that in a criminal case the crucial factor is not the legal rule but the facts of the case and that the goal of the entire procedure is to experimentally recreate for the court the commission of the alleged crime.


The main idea is usually stated in the last--occasionally the first--sentence of the first paragraph. If it's not there, it will probably be the last sentence of the entire passage.

Because main idea questions are relatively easy, the CAT writers try to obscure the correct answer by surrounding it with close answer-choices ("detractors") that either overstate or understate the author's main point. Answer-choices that stress specifics tend to understate the main idea; choices that go beyond the scope of the passage tend to overstate the main idea.

The answer to a main idea question will summarize the author's argument, yet be neither too specific nor too broad.

Example: (Refer to the first passage.)

The primary purpose of the passage is to

(A) Explain why the inquisitorial system is the best system of criminal justice
(B) explain how the adversarial and the inquisitorial systems of criminal justice both evolved from the system of private vengeance
(C) show how the adversarial and inquisitorial systems of criminal justice can both complement and hinder each other's development
(D) show how the adversarial and inquisitorial systems of criminal justice are being combined into a new and better system
(E) analyze two systems of criminal justice and deduce which one is better

The answer to a main idea question will summarize the passage without going beyond it. (A) Violates these criteria by overstating the scope of the passage. The comparison in the passage is between two specific systems, not between all systems. (A) Would be a good answer if "best" were replaced with "better." Beware of extreme words. (B) Violates the criteria by understating the scope of the passage. Although the evolution of both the adversarial and the inquisitorial systems is discussed in the passage, it is done to show why one is superior to the other. As to (C) and (D), both can be quickly dismissed since neither is mentioned in the passage. Finally, the passage does two things: it presents two systems of criminal justice and shows why one is better than the other. (E) aptly summarizes this, so it is the best answer.

Description Questions

Description questions, as with main idea questions, refer to a point made by the author. However, description questions refer to a minor point or to incidental information, not to the author's main point.

The answer to a description question must refer directly to a statement in the passage, not to something implied by it. However, the correct answer will paraphrase a statement in the passage, not give an exact quote. In fact, exact quotes ("Same language" traps) are often used to bait wrong answers.

Caution: When answering a description question, you must find the point in the passage from which the question is drawn. Don't rely on memory--too many obfuscating tactics are used with these questions.

Not only must the correct answer refer directly to a statement in the passage, it must refer to the relevant statement. The correct answer will be surrounded by wrong choices which refer directly to the passage but don't address the question. These choices can be tempting because they tend to be quite close to the actual answer.

Once you spot the sentence to which the question refers, you still must read a few sentences before and after it, to put the question in context. If a question refers to line 20, the information needed to answer it can occur anywhere from line 15 to 25. Even if you have spotted the answer in line 20, you should still read a couple more lines to make certain you have the proper perspective.

Example: (Refer to the first passage.)

According to the passage, the inquisitorial system differs from the adversarial system in that

(A) it does not make the defendant solely responsible for gathering evidence for his case
(B) it does not require the police department to work on behalf of the prosecution
(C) it does not allow the victim the satisfaction of private vengeance
(D) it requires the prosecution to drop a weak case
(E) a defendant who is innocent would prefer to be tried under the inquisitorial system

This is a description question, so the information needed to answer it must be stated in the passage--though not in the same language as in the answer. The needed information is contained in the fourth sentence of Paragraph 3, which states that the public prosecutor has to investigate on behalf of both society and the defendant. Thus, the defendant is not solely responsible for investigating his case. Furthermore, the paragraph's opening implies that this feature is not found in the adversarial system. This illustrates why you must determine the context of the situation before you can safely answer the question. The answer is (A).


Writing Technique Questions

All coherent writing has a superstructure or blueprint. When writing, we don't just randomly jot down our thoughts; we organize our ideas and present them in a logical manner. For instance, we may present evidence that builds up to a conclusion but intentionally leave the conclusion unstated, or we may present a position and then contrast it with an opposing position, or we may draw an extended analogy.

There is an endless number of writing techniques that authors use to present their ideas, so we cannot classify every method. However, some techniques are very common to the type of explanatory or opinionated writing found in CAT passages.

A. Compare and contrast two positions.

This technique has a number of variations, but the most common and direct is to develop two ideas or systems (comparing) and then point out why one is better than the other (contrasting).

Writing-technique questions are similar to main idea questions; except that they ask about how the author presents his ideas, not about the ideas themselves. Generally, you will be given only two writing methods to choose from, but each method will have two or more variations.

Example: (Refer to the first passage.)

Which one of the following best describes the organization of the passage?

(A) Two systems of criminal justice are compared and contrasted, and one is deemed to be better than the other.
(B) One system of criminal justice is presented as better than another. Then evidence is offered to support that claim.
(C) Two systems of criminal justice are analyzed, and one specific example is examined in detail.
(D) A set of examples is furnished. Then a conclusion is drawn from them.
(E) The inner workings of the criminal justice system are illustrated by using two systems.

Clearly the author is comparing and contrasting two criminal justice systems. Indeed, the opening to paragraph two makes this explicit. The author uses a mixed form of comparison and contrast. He opens the passage by developing (comparing) both systems and then shifts to developing just the adversarial system. He opens the second paragraph by contrasting the two criminal justice systems and then further develops just the inquisitorial system. Finally, he closes by again contrasting the two systems and implying that the inquisitorial system is superior.

Only two answer-choices, (A) and (B), have any real merit. They say essentially the same thing--though in different order. Notice in the passage that the author does not indicate which system is better until the end of paragraph one, and he does not make that certain until paragraph two. This contradicts the order given by (B). Hence the answer is (A). (Note: In (A) the order is not specified and therefore is harder to attack, whereas in (B) the order is definite and therefore is easier to attack. Remember that a measured response is harder to attack and therefore is more likely to be the answer.)

B. Show cause and effect.

In this technique, the author typically shows how a particular cause leads to a certain result or set of results. It is not uncommon for this method to introduce a sequence of causes and effects. A causes B, which causes C, which causes D, and so on. Hence B is both the effect of A and the cause of C.

Example: (Mini-passage)

Thirdly, I worry about the private automobile. It is a dirty, noisy, wasteful, and lonely means of travel. It pollutes the air, ruins the safety and sociability of the street, and exercises upon the individual a discipline which takes away far more freedom than it gives him. It causes an enormous amount of land to be unnecessarily abstracted from nature and from plant life and to become devoid of any natural function. It explodes cities, grievously impairs the whole institution of neighborliness, fragmentizes and destroys communities. It has already spelled the end of our cities as real cultural and social communities, and has made impossible the construction of any others in their place. Together with the airplane, it has crowded out other, more civilized and more convenient means of transport, leaving older people, infirm people, poor people and children in a worse situation than they were a hundred years ago. It continues to lend a terrible element of fragility to our civilization, placing us in a situation where our life would break down completely if anything ever interfered with the oil supply.

George F. Kennan

Which of the following best describes the organization of the passage?

(A) A problem is presented and then a possible solution is discussed.
(B) The benefits and demerits of the automobile are compared and contrasted.
(C) A topic is presented and a number of its effects are discussed.
(D) A set of examples is furnished to support a conclusion.

This passage is laden with effects. Kennan introduces the cause, the automobile, in the opening sentence and from there on presents a series of effects--the automobile pollutes, enslaves, and so on. Hence the answer is (C). Note: (D) is the second-best choice; it is disqualified by two flaws. First, in this context, "examples" is not as precise as "effects." Second, the order is wrong: the conclusion, "I worry about the private automobile" is presented first and then the examples: it pollutes, it enslaves, etc.

C. State a position and then give supporting evidence.

This technique is common with opinionated passages. Equally common is the reverse order. That is, the supporting evidence is presented and then the position or conclusion is stated. And sometimes the evidence will be structured to build up to a conclusion which is then left unstated. If this is done skillfully the reader will be more likely to arrive at the same conclusion as the author.

Extension Questions

Extension questions are the most common. They require you to go beyond what is stated in the passage, asking you to draw an inference from the passage, to make a conclusion based on the passage, or to identify one of the author's tacit assumptions.

Since extension questions require you to go beyond the passage, the correct answer must say more than what is said in the passage. Beware of same language traps with these questions: the correct answers will often both paraphrase and extend a statement in the passage, but it will not directly quote it.

"Same Language" traps: For extension questions, any answer-choice that explicitly refers to or repeats a statement in the passage will probably be wrong.

The correct answer to an extension question will not require a quantum leap in thought, but it will add significantly to the ideas presented in the passage.

Example: (Refer to the first passage.)

The author views the prosecution's role in the inquisitorial system as being

(A) an advocate for both society and the defendant
(B) solely responsible for starting a trial
(C) a protector of the legal rule
(D) an investigator only
(E) an aggressive but fair investigator

This is an extension question. So the answer will not be explicitly stated in the passage, but it will be strongly supported by it.

The author states that the prosecutor is duty bound to present any evidence that may prove the defendant innocent and that he must disclose all pretrial evidence (i.e., have no tricks up his sleeve). This is the essence of fair play. The answer is (E).

Application Questions

Application questions differ from extension questions only in degree. Extension questions ask you to apply what you have learned from the passage to derive new information about the same subject, whereas application questions go one step further, asking you to apply what you have learned from the passage to a different or hypothetical situation.

To answer an application question, take the author's perspective. Ask yourself: what am I arguing for? what might make my argument stronger? what might make it weaker?

Example: (Refer to the first passage.)

Based on the information in the passage, it can be inferred that which one of the following would most logically begin a paragraph immediately following the passage?

(A) Because of the inquisitorial system's thoroughness in conducting its pretrial investigation, it can be concluded that a defendant who is innocent would prefer to be tried under the inquisitorial system, whereas a defendant who is guilty would prefer to be tried under the adversarial system.

(B) As the preceding analysis shows, the legal system is in a constant state of flux. For now the inquisitorial system is ascendant, but it will probably be soon replaced by another system.

(C) The accusatorial system begins where the inquisitorial system ends. So it is three steps removed from the system of private vengeance, and therefore historically superior to it.

(D) Because in the inquisitorial system the judge must take an active role in the conduct of the trial, his competency and expertise have become critical.

(E) The criminal justice system has evolved to the point that it no longer seems to be derivative of the system of private vengeance. Modern systems of criminal justice empower all of society with the right to instigate a legal action, and the need for vengeance is satisfied through a surrogate--the public prosecutor.

The author has rather thoroughly presented his position, so the next paragraph would be a natural place for him to summarize it. The passage compares and contrasts two systems of criminal justice, implying that the inquisitorial system is superior. We expect the concluding paragraph to sum up this position. Now all legal theory aside, the system of justice under which an innocent person would choose to be judged would, as a practical matter, pretty much sum up the situation. Hence the answer is (A).

Tone Questions

Tone questions ask you to identify the writer's attitude or perspective. Is the writer's feeling toward the subject positive, negative, or neutral? Does the writer give his own opinion, or does he objectively present the opinions of others?

Before you read the answer-choices, decide whether the writer's tone is positive, negative, or neutral. It is best to do this without referring to the passage.

However, if you did not get a feel for the writer's attitude on the first reading, check the adjectives that he chooses. Adjectives and, to a lesser extent, adverbs express our feelings toward subjects. For instance, if we agree with a person who holds strong feelings about a subject, we may describe his opinions as impassioned. On the other hand, if we disagree with him, we may describe his opinions as excitable, which has the same meaning as "impassioned" but carries a negative connotation.

Example: (Refer to the first passage.)

The author's attitude toward the adversarial system can best be described as

(A) Encouraged that it is far removed from the system of private vengeance
(B) concerned that it does not allow all members of society to instigate legal action
(C) pleased that it does not require the defendant to conduct his own pretrial investigation
(D) hopeful that it will be replaced by the inquisitorial system
(E) doubtful that it is the best vehicle for justice

The author does not reveal his feelings toward the adversarial system until the end of paragraph one. Clearly the clause "the adversarial system of criminal procedure symbolizes and regularizes the punitive combat" indicates that he has a negative attitude toward the system. This is confirmed in the second paragraph when he states that the inquisitorial system is historically superior to the adversarial system. So he feels that the adversarial system is deficient.

The "two-out-of-five" rule is at work here: only choices (D) and (E) have any real merit. Both are good answers. But which one is better? Intuitively, choice (E) is more likely to be the answer because it is more measured. To decide between two choices attack each: the one that survives is the answer. Now a tone question should be answered from what is directly stated in the passage--not from what it implies. Although the author has reservations toward the adversarial system, at no point does he say that he hopes the inquisitorial system will replace it, he may prefer a third system over both. This eliminates (D); the answer therefore is (E).


As mentioned before, each passage contains 200 to 600 words and only four to seven questions, so you will not be tested on most of the material in the passage. Your best reading strategy, therefore, is to identify the places from which questions will most likely be drawn and concentrate your attention there.

Pivotal words can help in this regard. Following are the most common pivotal words.

Pivotal Words









In contrast

Even though

As you may have noticed, these words indicate contrast. Pivotal words warn that the author is about to either make a U-turn or introduce a counter-premise (concession to a minor point that weakens the argument).

Example: (Counter-premise)

I submit that the strikers should accept the management's offer. Admittedly, it is less than what was demanded. But it does resolve the main grievance--inadequate health care. Furthermore, an independent study shows that a wage increase greater than 5% would leave the company unable to compete against Japan and Germany, forcing it into bankruptcy.

The conclusion, "the strikers should accept the management's offer," is stated in the first sentence. Then "Admittedly" introduces a concession (counter-premise); namely, that the offer was less than what was demanded. This weakens the speaker's case, but it addresses a potential criticism of his position before it can be made. The last two sentences of the argument present more compelling reasons to accept the offer and form the gist of the argument.

Pivotal words mark natural places for questions to be drawn. At a pivotal word, the author changes direction. The CAT writers form questions at these junctures to test whether you turned with the author or you continued to go straight. Rarely do the CAT writers let a pivotal word pass without drawing a question from its sentence.


An adjective modifies a noun. It describes the quality, state or action that a noun refers to.

The good news is that the form of adjectives does not change, it does not matter if the noun being modified is male or female, singular or plural, subject or object.

Some adjectives give us factual information about the noun - age, size colour etc (fact adjectives - can't be argued with). Some adjectives show what somebody thinks about something or somebody - nice, horrid, beautiful etc (opinion adjectives - not everyone may agree).


i) Adjectives can come before nouns: a new car

ii) Adjectives can come after verbs such as be, become, seem, look, etc.: that car looks fast

iii) They can be modified by adverbs: a very expensive car

iv) They can be used as complements to a noun: the extras make the car expensive


Adjectives can be used to give your opinion about something.

good, pretty, right, wrong, funny, light, happy, sad, full, soft, hard etc.

For example:

He was a silly boy.


Adjectives can be used to describe size.

big, small, little, long, tall, short, same as, etc.

For example:

  • "The big man." or "The big woman".


Adjectives can be used to describe age.

For example:

  • "He was an old man." or "She was an old woman."


Adjectives can be used to describe shape.

round, circular, triangular, rectangular, square, oval, etc.

For example:

  • "It was a square box." or "They were square boxes."


Adjectives can be used to describe c o l o u r .

blue, red, green, brown, yellow, black, white, etc.

For example:

  • "The blue bag." or "The blue bags".


Adjectives can be used to describe origin.

For example:-

  • "It was a German flag." or "They were German flags."


Adjectives can be used to describe material.

  • "It was a cotton cushion." or "They were cotton cushions."


Adjectives can be used to describe distance. l -- o -- n -- g / short

long, short, far, around, start, high, low, etc.

For example:

  • "She went for a long walk." or "She went for lots of long walks."


Adjectives can be used to describe temperature.

cold, warm, hot, cool, etc.

For example:

  • "It day was hot." or "They days were hot."


Adjectives can be used to describe time.

late, early, bed, nap, dinner, lunch, day, morning, night, etc.

For example:

  • "She had an early start."


Adjectives can be used to describe purpose. (These adjectives often end with "-ing".)

For example:

  • "She gave them a sleeping bag." or "She gave them sleeping bags."

!Note - In each case the adjective stays the same, whether it is describing a maculine, feminine, singular or plural noun.

When using more than one adjective to modify a noun, the adjectives may be separated by a conjunction (and) or by commas (,).

For example:

  • "Her hair was long and blonde." or "She had long, blonde hair."

More examples:

List Of Adjectives

bad, jittery , purple, tan , better, jolly , quaint , tender

beautiful, kind, quiet, testy ,big ,long, quick, tricky,

black ,lazy, quickest, tough ,blue,bright, magnificent magenta, rainy

rare ,ugly, ugliest ,clumsy , many, ratty ,vast ,

crazy, mighty, red, watery ,dizzy ,mushy, roasted, wasteful

dull, nasty, robust, wide-eyed ,fat, new, round, wonderful

frail, nice, sad, yellow ,friendly ,nosy ,scary ,yummy

funny ,nutty, scrawny, zany ,great, nutritious, short

green ,odd ,silly ,gigantic, orange ,stingy ,gorgeous ,

ordinary ,strange ,grumpy, pretty ,striped ,

handsome, precious, spotty ,happy, prickly, tart,

horrible , tall ,itchy , tame



Adverbs are words that modify everything but nouns and pronouns. They modify adjectives, verbs, and other adverbs. A word is an adverb if it answers how, when, or where.

The only adverbs that cause grammatical problems are those that answer the question how, so we will focus on these. Examples He speaks slowly.
Answers the question how.

He speaks very slowly.
Answers the question how slowly.

Rule 1. Generally, if a word answers the question how, it is an adverb. If it can have an ly added to it, place it there. Examples She thinks slow/slowly.
She thinks how slowly.

She is a slow/slowly thinker.
Slow does not answer how so no ly is attached. Slow is an adjective here.

She thinks fast/fastly.
Fast answers the question how, so it is an adverb. But fast never has an ly attached to it.

We performed bad/badly.
Badly describes how we performed.

Rule 2. A special ly rule applies when four of the sensestaste, smell, look, feelare the verbs. Do not ask if these senses answer the question how to determine if ly should be attached. Instead, ask if the sense verb is being used actively. If so, use the ly. Examples Roses smell sweet/sweetly.
Do the roses actively smell with noses No, so no ly.

The woman looked angry/angrily.
Did the woman actively look with eyes or are we describing her appearance
We are only describing appearance, so no ly.

The woman looked angry/angrily at the paint splotches.
Here the woman did actively look with eyes so the ly was added.

She feels bad/badly about the news.
She is not feeling with fingers, so no ly.

Rule 3. The word good is an adjective while well is an adverb. Examples You did a good job.
Good describes the job.

You did the job well.
Well answers how.

You smell good today.
Describes your odor, not how you smell with your nose, so follow with the adjective.

You smell well for someone with a cold.
You are actively smelling with a nose here so follow with the adverb.

Rule 4. When referring to health, always use well. Examples I do not feel well.

You do not look well today.

Rule 5. A common error in using adjectives and adverbs arises from using the wrong form for comparison. For instance, to describe one thing we would say poor, as in, "She is poor." To compare two things, we should say poorer, as in, "She is the poorer of the two women." To compare more than two things, we should say poorest, as in, "She is the poorest of them all." Examples



Three or More








more efficient*

most efficient*

*Usually with words of three or more syllables, don't add -er or -est. Use more or most in front of the words.

Rule 6. Never drop the ly from an adverb when using the comparison form. Correct She spoke quickly.
She spoke more quickly than he did. Incorrect She spoke quicker than he did. Correct Talk quietly.
Talk more quietly. Incorrect Talk quieter.

Rule 7. When this, that, these, and those are followed by nouns, they are adjectives. When they appear without a noun following them, they are pronouns. Examples This house is for sale.
This is an adjective here.

This is for sale.
This is a pronoun here.

Rule 8. This and that are singular, whether they are being used as adjectives or as pronouns. This points to something nearby while that points to something "over there." Examples This dog is mine.

That dog is hers.

This is mine.

That is hers.

Rule 9. These and those are plural, whether they are being used as adjectives or as pronouns. These points to something nearby while those points to something "over there." Examples These babies have been smiling for a long time.

These are mine.

Those babies have been crying for hours.

Those are yours.

Rule 10. Use than to show comparison. Use then to answer the question when. Examples I would rather go skiing than rock climbing.

First we went skiing; then we went rock climbing

How to recognize an adverb

Many adverbs end with the suffix -LY. Most of these are created by adding -LY to the end of an adjective, like this:











However, this is NOT a reliable way to find out whether a word is an adverb or not, for two reasons: many adverbs do NOT end in -LY (some are the same as the adjective form), and many words which are NOT adverbs DO end in -LY (such as kindly, friendly, elderly and lonely, which are adjectives). Here are some examples of adverbs which are the same as adjectives:









The best way to tell if a word is an adverb is to try making a question, for which the answer is the word. If the question uses how, where or when, then the word is probably an adverb. Here is an example:

Word in context



Junko plays tennis aggressively.

How does Junko play tennis

Yes -- uses HOW.

They have a small house.

What kind of house do they have

No -- uses WHAT KIND OF, so this is an adjective.

Matthew called the police immediately.

When did Matthew call the police

Yes -- uses WHEN.

Making adverbs from adjectives

Adverbs are usually made from adjectives, by adding -LY. However, there are some exceptions. These are the rules:

Adjective ending in...

How to make the adverb



Change Y to I and add -LY

heavy - heavily
happy - happily
lazy - lazily

[anything else]

Just add -LY

warm - warmly
nice - nicely
loud - loudly

However, there are some important exceptions:






("Lately" means recently.
It is not the adverb
from "late".)






("Hardly" means not much.
It is not the adverb
from "hard".)

Avoiding Common Errors

Bad or Badly

When you want to describe how you feel, you should use an adjective (Why Feel is a sense verb;see rule #3 above). So you'd say, "I feel bad." Saying you feel badly would be like saying you play football badly. It would mean that you are unable to feel, as though your hands were partially numb.

Good or Well

Good is an adjective, so you do not do good or live good, but you do well and live well. Remember, though, that an adjective follows sense-verbs and be-verbs, so you also feel good, look good, smell good, are good, have been good, etc. (Refer to rule #3 above for more information about sense verbs and verbs of appearance.)

Confusion can occur because well can function either as an adverb or an adjective. When well is used as an adjective, it means "not sick" or "in good health." For this specific sense of well, it's OK to say you feel well or are well -- for example, after recovering from an illness. When not used in this health-related sense, however, well functions as an adverb; for example, "I did well on my exam."


Scarcely and hardly are already negative adverbs. To add another negative term is redundant, because in English only one negative is ever used at a time

They found scarcely any animals on the island. (not scarcely no...)
Hardly anyone came to the party. (not hardly no one...)

Sure or Surely?

Sure is an adjective, and surely is an adverb. Sure is also used in the idiomatic expression sure to be. Surely can be used as a sentence-adverb. Here are some examples that show different uses of sure and surely. Light blue arrows indicate adjectives and green arrows indicate adverbs.

Here sure is an adjective that modifies the pronoun I.

Here surely is an adverb that modifies the adjective ready.

Here sure to be is an idiomatic phrase that functions as an adjective that modifies the pronoun she.


There are only three articles in English: a , an and the .

There are two types of articles indefinite a and an or definite the .

Their proper use is complex especially when you get into the advanced use of English. Quite often you have to work by what sounds right, which can be frustrating for a learner.

We usually use no article to talk about things in general - the doesn't mean all.

For example:

"Books are expensive." = (All books are expensive.)
" The books are expensive." = (Not all books are expensive, just the ones I'm talking about.)

Indefinite articles - a and an (determiners)

A and an are the indefinite articles. They refer to something not specifically known to the person you are communicating with.

A and an are used before nouns that introduce something or someone you have not mentioned before:-

For example:

"I saw an elephant this morning."
"I ate a banana for lunch."

A and an are also used when talking about your profession

For example:

"I am an English teacher."
"I am a builder."


You use a when the noun you are referring to begins with a consonant (b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y or z), for example, "a city" and "a factory"

You use an when the noun you are referring to begins with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u)

Pronunciation changes this rule.

If the next word begins with a consonant sound when we say it, for example, "university" then we use a. If the next word begins with a vowel sound when we say it, for example "hour" then we use an.

We say "university" with a "y" sound at the beginning as though it were spelt "youniversity".
So, "a university" IS correct.

We say "hour" with a silent h as though it were spelt "our".
So, "an hour" IS correct.

Definite Article - the (determiners)

You use the when you know that the listener knows or can work out what particular person/thing you are talking about.

For example:

"The apple you ate was rotten."
"Did you lock the car?"

You should also use the when you have already mentioned the thing you are talking about.

For example:

"She's got two children; a girl and a boy. The girl's eight and the boy's fourteen."

We use the to talk about geographical points on the globe.

For example:

the North Pole, the equator

We use the to talk about rivers, oceans and seas

For example:

the Nile, the Pacific, the English channel

We also use the before certain nouns when we know there is only one of a particular thing.

For example:

the rain, the sun, the wind, the world, the earth, the White House etc..

However if you want to describe a particular instance of these you should use a/an.

For example:

"I could hear the wind." / "There's a cold wind blowing."

"What are your plans for the future?" / "She has a promising future ahead of her."

The is also used to say that a particular person or thing being mentioned is the best, most famous, etc. In this use, 'the' is usually given strong pronunciation:

For example:

"Harry's Bar is the place to go."

"You don't mean you met the Tony Blair, do you?"

Do not use the before:

· names of countries (Italy, Mexico, Bolivia) except the Netherlands and the US

· names of cities, towns, or states (Seoul, Manitoba, Miami)

· names of streets (
Washington Blvd.
Main St

· names of lakes and bays (Lake Titicaca, Lake Erie) except with a group of lakes like the Great Lakes

· names of mountains (Mount Everest, Mount Fuji) except with ranges of mountains like the Andes or the Rockies or unusual names like the Matterhorn

· names of continents (Asia, Europe)

· names of islands (Easter Island, Maui, Key West) except with island chains like the Aleutians, the Hebrides, or the Canary Islands

Do use the before:

· names of rivers, oceans and seas (the Nile, the Pacific)

· points on the globe (the Equator, the North Pole)

· geographical areas (the Middle East, the West)

· deserts, forests, gulfs, and peninsulas (the Sahara, the Persian Gulf, the Black Forest, the Iberian Peninsula)

No article

You do not use an article before nouns when talking in general terms.

For example:

Inflation is rising.

People are worried about rising crime. (Note! People generally, so no article)

You do not use an article when talking about sports.

For example:

My son plays football.

Tennis is expensive.

You do not use an article before uncountable nouns when talking about them generally.

For example:

Information is important to any organisation.

Coffee is bad for you.

You do not use an article before the names of countries except where they contain the words (state(s), kindom, republic, union). Kingdom, state, republic and union are nouns, so they needs an article.

For example:

No article - Italy, Mexico, Bolivia

Use the - the UK, the USA, the Irish Republic

Note! the Netherlands



A noun is the word that refers to a person, thing or abstract idea. A noun can tell you who or what.

There are several different types of noun:-

  • There are common nouns such as dog, car, chair etc.
  • Nouns that refer to things which can be counted (can be singular or plural) are countable nouns.
  • Nouns that refer to some groups of countable nouns, substances, feelings and types of activity (can only be singular) are uncountable nouns.
  • Nouns that refer to a group of people or things are collective nouns.
  • Nouns that refer to people, organizations or places are proper nouns, only proper nouns are capitalized.
  • Nouns that are made up of two or more words are called compound nouns.
  • Nouns that are formed from a verb by adding

Use capital letters in the following ways:

The first words of a sentence

example: When he tells a joke, he sometimes forgets the punch line.

The pronoun "I" examples:
The Patels have moved to the Southwest. Jim's house is two miles north of Otterbein.
example: One of Ringo?s favorite books is The Catcher in the Rye.

example: The last time I visited Atlanta was several years ago.

Proper nouns

(the names of specific people, places, organizations, and sometimes things)


Worrill Fabrication Company
Golden Gate Bridge
Supreme Court

Livingston, Missouri
Atlantic Ocean
Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Family relationships

(when used as proper names) examples:
I sent a thank-you note to Aunt Abigail, but not to my other aunts.
Here is a present I bought for Mother.
Did you buy a present for your mother

The names of God, specific deities, religious figures, and holy books


God the Father
the Virgin Mary
the Bible
the Greek gods


Exception: Do not capitalize the non-specific use of the word "god."

example: The word "polytheistic" means the worship of more than one god.

Titles preceding names, but not title that follow names

She worked as the assistant to Mayor Hanolovi.
I was able to interview Miriam Moss, mayor of Littonville.

Directions that are names

(North, South, East, and West when used as sections of the country, but not as compass directions)

The days of the week, the months of the year, and holidays (but not the seasons used generally)




Exception: Seasons are capitalized when used in a title. example: The Fall 1999 semester

The names of countries, nationalities, and specific languages


Costa Rica


The first word in a sentence that is a direct quote

example: Emerson once said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

The major words in the titles of books, articles, and songs

(but not short prepositions or the articles "the," "a," or "an," if they are not the first word of the title)

Members of national, political, racial, social, civic, and athletic groups


Green Bay Packers

Friends of the Wilderness

Periods and events

(but not century numbers) examples:

Victorian Era
Great Depression

Constitutional Convention
sixteenth century




Microsoft Word

Words and abbreviations of specific names

(but not names of things that came from specific things but are now general types) examples:


french fries

Preposition Usage

Preposition usage is an important part of the English Language, or any language for that matter. So just what is proper preposition usage

Prepositions are generally used to show the relationship between its object and other words in the sentence.

The following show preposition usage and the relationships of prepositions with the other words in the sentences they are in.

Remembering relationships will help you remember which preposition to use.

  • Place (in, on, under, over, near, beside, etc.)

Your book is on the table.

  • Direction (to, toward, into, through, etc.)

The football player ran through the stadium to the other end.

  • Time (in, on, at, etc.)

We can meet at five oclock.

  • Agent (by)

This book was written by a famous author.

  • Instrument (by, with)

I heard the news by television. (Communication)

She came by bus. (Transportation)

He opened the door with a key.(Instrument or tool)


We use by + no article for communication and transportation.

Examples : by phone, by radio, and by bus, by car

  • Accompaniment (with)

I like spaghetti with white sauce.

Mrs. Vajiona went to Thassos Island with her husband Georgios.

  • Purpose (for)

He went to the store for milk and bread.


Never, Never use for + verb + ing to express the purpose of the verb.

Example : He went to the store for buying milk and bread. This is wrong usage and a common mistake!

  • Partition / Possession (of)

?They painted the front of the building white and green.

?He broke the top of the table with his fist.

  • Measure (by, of)

We buy our olive oil by the 16 kilo container.

Please buy a quart of milk from the market.

  • Similarity (like)
  • Mary walks like her mother.
  • Capacity (as)

Bill worked as a fireman until a year ago.

Now you ve seen some basic preposition usage. Remember, it?s best to know/learn them in combination with other words. The next page deals with preposition combinations.

Preposition Definition

Preposition Definition

Learning a preposition definition is as important as learning the definition of any word. The following lists will help you know and recognize the preposition definition used in context with other words.

Remember, it's best to learn prepositions in combination with other words as they often follow set patterns.

Place (in, on, under, over, near, beside, etc.)

Your book is on the table. Direction (to, toward, into, through, etc.)

The football player ran through the stadium to the other end.

Time (in, on, at, etc.) We can meet at five o'clock.

Agent (by) This book was written by a famous author.

Instrument (by, with) I heard the news by television. (Communication)

She came by bus. (Transportation)

He opened the door with a key. (Instrument or tool)


We use by + no article for communication and transportation.

Examples: by phone, by radio, and by bus, by car

Accompaniment (with)

I like spaghetti with white sauce.

Mrs. Vajiona went to Thassos Island with her husband Georgios.

Purpose (for) He went to the store for milk and bread.


Never use for + verb + ing to express the purpose of the verb.

Example: He went to the store for buying milk and bread. This is wrong usage and a common mistake!

Partition / Possession (of) They painted the front of the building white and green.

He broke the top ofthe table with his fist.

Measure (by, of) We buy our olive oil by the 16 kilo container.

Please buy a quart of milk from the market. Similarity (like)

Mary walks like her mother.

Capacity (as) Bill worked as a fireman until a year ago.

The following lists contain verbs that are followed by full infinitives, objects plus full infinitives, gerunds and/or that clauses. The importance of knowing them can't be stressed enough.

I've included them here specifically to help those who need to improve their preposition definition understanding.

  • Verbs or verb expressions followed by a full infinitive

*can also be followed by a that clause


















feel impelled


















take pains




take the time

take the trouble


have no choice


have no alternative



but/other than




















know better than





  • Verbs followed by an object + full infinitive

*can also be followed by a that clause
























show how












*teach (how)































rely on


depend on




  • Verbs and verb expressions followed by a gerund

*can also be followed by a that clause















it is no good




it is no / little use




it is (not) worth












look like


cannot bear




cannot help




cannot stand





























Preposition Combinations

Preposition combinations

Preposition combinations appear frequently and must be learned by heart. There is no rule or reason why these words go together they just do.

In fact, word collocations and preposition combinations are extremely important at the proficiency level of the language. I always emphasize the importance of collocations and combinations at the proficiency level.

  • Again, learning preposition combinations is important!

Learning them will help you in all sections of the exam. The following verb preposition combinations always appear together. It's a good idea to know them.

  • Verb - Preposition Combinations

Agree on (something)

We agree on that issue.

Agree with (a person)

I agree with you in that matter.

Approve of

Betty approves of exercising.

Arrive at OR in

They arrived in Tokyo last night.

Have you arrived at a decision

Complain about

Please do not complain about the color.

Consent to

She consented to her daughter's marriage.

Comment on

She commented on his haircut.

Consist of

Water consists of hydrogen and oxygen.

Depend on

I am depending on you to help me.

Laugh at

We laughed at his silly shirt.

Object to

Do you object to my smoking

Succeed in

He succeeded in making everyone angry.

  • Some verb preposition combinations take two objects.

Compare? with OR to

Why compare me with ( OR to) my brother?

Excuse? for

I cannot excuse you for being late.

Prefer? to

She prefers juice to milk.

Remind? of

She reminded me of my appointment.

Thank? for

I thanked him for letting me use his bike.

  • Adjective - preposition combinations with to be.

Be afraid of

Jake is afraid of dogs.

Be accustomed to

I was accustomed to seeing her every day.

Be aware of

Are you aware of this problem?

Be bored with

Todd is bored with backgammon.

Be certain of

He cannot be certain of the date.

Be disappointed with

Susan was disappointed with her meal.

Be familiar with

Is Doctor Jones familiar with that new pill?

Be famous for

Michigan is famous for its Great Lakes.

Be frightened by

Don't be frightened by the dog, he won't bite.

Be happy with

The Smith's are very happy with their new car.

Be in favor of

Are you in favor of abortion?

Be interested in

John is interested in anthropology.

Be opposed to

He is really opposed to buying a new car.

Be satisfied with

He is not satisfied with his new school.

Be surprised at (or) by

I was surprised by his behavior.

Be tired of

Maria is tired of working for a living.

Be worried about

Mark is very worried about his sick mother.

  • Prepositions in fixed phrases.

According to

According to the news, it will rain tonight.

Along with

Can you take this bottle along with these cans, to the recycle bin?

As well as

I enjoy physics as well as math.

Because of

Because of the strike, there will be no buses today.

By means of

The child entered the yard by means of an open gate.

By way of

John went to Paris by way of London.

In addition to

In addition to studying ballet full-time, Patricia works part-time.

In case of

In case of fire, break glass and pull alarm.

In consideration of

In consideration of all your hard work I would like to take you to dinner.

In contrast to (or) with

In contrast to last summer, this summer is quite cool.

In deference to

In deference to her age, we did not argue with her.

In hopes of

We came here in hopes of meeting the famous musician.

In lieu of

He gave an oral report in lieu of the written exam.

In pursuit of

The business is in pursuit of excellence.

In search of

They went into the cave in search of lost treasure.

In spite of

In spite of his good intentions, he did not study much or do well on the exam.

In the face of

In the face of a severe drought, conservation measures needed to be adopted.

In terms of

He was a good teacher in terms of getting his students to pass their exams.

Correct Word Usage 1

Affect / Effect

Affect as a verb means to influence, act upon, or change something. Example: The noise inside the stadium affected his performance. Effect is usually a noun (thing) meaning to have an impact on something or someone. His smile had a strange effect on me. Effect can also mean "the end result." Example: The drug has many adverse side effects. Verb. To influence Noun. The resulting emotion Verb. To cause to happen Example: We were all affected by the drought. The effect of the drought was an increase in food prices. The drought effected an increase in price.

Amount / Number

Amount is a noun referring to non count nouns ExampL: Unfortunately, a huge amount of oil leaked out of the tank. Number is a noun referring to count nouns Example: Though few in number, judges have much power in Greece.

Complimentary / Complementary

Complimentary is an adjective which means given freely, or giving praise Example: The teacher was very complimentary about my work. Complementary is an adjective, which means, supplying needs Example : The complementary relationship of the bee and the flower is quite remarkable.

Different from / Different than

Different from is a preposition, which precedes a noun phrase Ex: He is different from your average shop owner. Different than is a preposition which precedes a noun clause Ex: London isdifferent than we had imagined.


Enough is an adverb, which precedes a noun and follows an adjective He knows enough English to study in England. She is fast enough to win the race.

Every so often / Ever so often

Every so often is an adverb meaning 'occasionally' Ex: They come every so often. I wish they could come more frequently. Ever so often is an adverb meaning 'frequently' Ex: They come ever so often. I wish they would stay home.

First / Former

First as an adjective refers to three or more items Ex: The first five skiers fell. Former as an adjective refers to two or fewer items Ex: The former Secretary of State for the U.S., Colin Powel, was the first black to hold that position.

From / Since / For

From is a preposition followed by a noun or noun phrase. Ex: As a time marker, it requires to or another preposition. From now on I will lead the way. From Monday to Friday, I work like a slave. Since is a subordinate conjunction followed by a clause. It expresses the time something began or 'the beginning of time' Since Wednesday, I have walked 6 miles a day. For is a preposition followed by a noun or noun phrase. It expresses ?the length of time (duration) something has lasted. For two weeks I have walked to work every day.

Lie / Lay

Lie is an intransitive verb meaning 'to recline' He lies down for a nap after his lunch. Lay is a transitive verb which means 'to put or place' He lay the book on the desk and left the room.

A Few / A little

A few means 'some / not many.' Used with countable nouns. Ex: A few people were standing outside the shop waiting to get in. A littlemeans 'some / not much.' Used with non-count nouns. Ex: He gave me a little cheese to eat with my bread.

Passed / Past

Passed is a transitive verb and past participle of the verb pass Ex: She barely passed the exam. Past is a preposition or adjective meaning 'by' Ex: We will keep school open past June. Ex: She walked past without saying hello.

Raise / Rise

Raise is a transitive verb meaning to move to a higher place. Ex: Tom raised his hand to answer a question. Rise is an intransitive verb meaning to go up or ascend. Ex: The sunrises in the morning.

A lot or Alot

A lot should be written as two words. Although a lot is used informally to mean "a large number" or "many," avoid using a lot in formal writing. Example: "The crook had many (not a lot of) chances to rob the stranger."

Accept or Except

Accept is a verb meaning 'to receive' or 'to approve.' Example: 'I accept your offer of the book.' Except is a verb meaning 'to leave out' or 'to exclude.' Example: He excepted all Corvettes from his list of favorite cars. Except can also be a preposition meaning excluding or leaving out. Example: He liked everything on the plate except the liver.

Acronyms and initialisms

According to The Business Writer's Handbook, "An acronym is an abbreviation that is formed by combining the first letter or letters of several words. Acronyms are pronounced as words and are written without periods. Ex: Radio detecting and ranging/radar Common Business-Oriented Language/ COBOL self-contained underwater breathing apparatus/ scuba An initialism is an abbreviation that is formed by combining the initial letter of each word in a multiword term. Initialisms are pronounced as separate letters. Ex: end of month/ e.o.m. cash on delivery/ c.o.d. post meridian/ p.m. Usage guidelines: The following are sample guidelines to apply in deciding whether to use acronyms and initialisms: 1. If you must use a multiword term as much as once each paragraph, you should instead use its acronym or initialism. For example, a phrase such as "primary software overlay area" can become tiresome if repeated again and again in one piece of writing; it would be better, therefore, to use PSOA. 2. If something is better known by its acronym or initialism than by its formal term, you should use the abbreviated form. The initialism a.m., for example, is much more common than the formal ante meridiem. If these conditions do not exist, however, always spell out the full term. 3. The first time an acronym or initialism appears in a written work, write the complete term, followed by the abbreviated form in parentheses. Ex: "The Capital Appropriations Request (CAR) controls the spending of money." Thereafter, you may use the acronym or initialism alone. In a long document, however, you will help the reader greatly by repeating the full term in parentheses at regular intervals so that he or she does not have to search back to the first time the acronym or initialism was used to find its meaning. 4. Write acronyms in capital letters without periods. The only exceptions are those acronyms that have become accepted as common nouns, which are written in lowercase letters. Ex.: "NASA," "HUD," "laser," "scuba." Initialisms may be written either uppercase or lowercase. Generally, do not use periods when they are uppercase, but use periods when they are lowercase. Two exceptions are geographic names and academic degrees.

Correct Word Usage 2

Say / Tell

Say is a transitive verb meaning to express in words Ex: I said that she should stay home tonight. Tell is an intransitive verb also meaning to express in words I told him to stay home but he didn't listen. (NEVER told to him)

Sit / Set

Sit is an intransitive verb meaning to rest on something. Ex: Sit on the bench and not on the grass. Set is a transitive verb meaning to place something. Ex: She set the soup and spoons on the table.

Speak / Speech

Speak is a verb meaning 'to say out loud' Ex: Speak louder. I can't hear you! Speech is a noun meaning 'what is said aloud' Politicians give the same boring speech over and over again when running for political office.

Than / Then

Than is a conjunction used in comparisons Ex: She is taller than her sister. Then as an adjective or adverbial conjunction relates to time Ex: First we will work; then we will go out for lunch.

Watch / See

Watch is a transitive verb meaning 'to look at or observe carefully' Ex: He watched his grand children playing in the yard See is a transitive verb meaning 'to perceive with the eye' Ex: He saw the children go into the house.

Accept / Except / Expect

Accept is a verb that means to receive or take or to give a positive answer to a proposition or offer. Ex: Do you accept travelers checks (receive, take) Susan accepted his offer of a job. (gave a positive answer) The club accepted three new members. (received) Except as a preposition, meaning with the exception of. (Commonly used) Everybody except John went to the party. (John didn't go) Except as a verb means, to exclude, to keep out. (Rarely used) The boys excepted Frank from their club.(They did not accept him) Expect is a verb that means, waiting for something to happen or 'believed to be the state of something' Ex: She expected her husband home from work at any minute. I expect you are hungry after such a long trip

Advice / Advise

(note spelling differences between British English and American English) Advise is a verb. Ex: The doctor advised her to quit smoking. Advice is a noun. Ex: She gave me some good advice.

All ready / Already

All ready is an adjective phrase meaning completely ready. Ex: We were all ready to leave at eight o'clock. Already is an adverb of time meaning by or before a specific time. Ex: They had already left by three o'clock. He had already eaten when I arrived. (before I arrived)

Altogether / All Together

Altogether is an adverb meaning completely. Ex: I am altogether upset with you. All together is an adjective phrase meaning in a group. Ex: The children sang a song all together.

Besides / Beside

The preposition besides means except. Ex: Everyone besides Jane went to the party. The preposition beside means next to. EX: Jane was standing beside me. (NOT: besides me)

Cloth / Clothes

Cloth is a noun (usually as a non-count noun) that means material or fabric. Ex: She bought some cloth to make a new dress. Clothes is a plural count noun meaning 'garments used to cover the body.' Ex: She bought a lot of clothes in Paris. I feel nice when I wear new clothes.

Desert / Dessert

A desert is 'a dry area with little vegetation and rainfall.' Ex: The Sahara desert in Africa is the largest in the world. A dessert is 'sweet food usually eaten after a meal.' We had chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert.

Differ from / Differ with

To differ from is 'to be dissimilar.' Ex: Men differ from women physically. To differ with is 'to disagree with.' Ex: I differ with you on this issue. (I disagree with you)

Emigrate / Immigrate

To emigrate means, 'to leave one country to live in another.' Ex: My grandfather emigrated from Europe to the USA in 1864. To immigrate means, 'to move to a new country' Many countries are facing difficulties due to the increased number of immigrants living in them. *It's probably easiest to remember that to emigrate means to leave a country while immigrate means to enter to live.

Farther / Further

Farther means 'towards a more distant point in space' (actual distance) The beach is a few miles farther away. Further means towards a more distant point in time, degree, or quantity. (figurative distance) Ex: Let us consider this problem a bit further. (time) We should do further research on this matter. (quantity) Be careful not to excite the children any further. (degree)

Formally / Formerly

Formally means in a formal way. Ex: He was formally charged with the crime. Formerly means previously, or at an earlier time. She was formerly a dancer in a club.

Healthful / Healthy

Healthful means good for ones health. Ex: Vegetables and fruits are healthful foods. Healthy means in a good condition of health. Ex: Due to their outdoor lifestyle, all of his children are healthy.

Illusion / Allusion

An illusion is a false idea or unreal image. Ex: The magician's illusion convinced the crowd that he was flying. An allusion is an indirect reference. Ex: The professor made an allusion to modern art.

Imply / Infer

To imply is to suggest without saying directly. A speaker or writer can imply. Susan implied that she was not happy with her studies. To infer is to to make a conclusion based on evidence not stated. Only a listener or reader can infer. I inferred from the report that our taxes would be raised again.

Its / It's

Its is the singular possessive pronoun for things. The car had its tires stolen last night. It's is the contraction for it is. It's a nice day today. (It is a nice day today.)

Leave / Let

To leave means, to go away from. Ex: He leaves work at five o'clock every day. To let means, to permit. Ex: Jane let me borrow her bike.

Loose / Lose

The adjective loose means not tight. Ex: This shirt is too loose. I need a smaller size. To lose is a verb meaning to leave (forget) behind by accident. Ex: I often lose my house keys.

Most / Almost

The adjective most is the superlative form of many or much meaning the largest number or amount. Ex: Most coffee comes from Brazil. Almost is an adverb meaning not quite, or very nearly or nearly all. Ex: Almost all the students are here. He is almost ready to leave. He almost won the race.

Plane / Plain

The noun plane usually means airplane. Ex: His plane arrives in New York at 9:00am. The adjective plain means simple,not fancy. Ex: Her dress was very plain.

Principal / Principle

The adjective principal means chief or very important. The noun principal means chief official. The principal reason for his failure was lack of support. I am the principal of this school. The noun principle means fundamental truth. He is studying the principles of accounting.

Quiet / Quite

Quiet is an adjective meaning not noisy. Ex: It was a very quite party. Quite is an adverb meaning completely or to a degree. Ex: He is quite upset today. He is quite short.

Respectfully / Respectively

Respectfully means with respect. Ex: The audience rose respectfully when the President entered. Respectively means in the order given. Ex: The Suttons lived in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York respectively.

So / So that

So is a conjunction joining a clause of result to a main clause. Ex: It rained a lot last year, so there were lots of wildflowers to enjoy. So that joins a clause of purpose to a main clause. We wore raincoats so that we would not get our clothes wet.

Stationary / Stationery

Stationary means in a fixed position. Ex: The car was stationary parked in the driveway. Stationery refers to writing supplies. Ex: That stationery store sells writing paper, envelopes and office supplies.

Their / There / They're

Their is the third-person plural possessive pronoun. Ex: They sold their car last week. There is (1) an adverb of place or (2) an expletive that tells of existence. Ex: Your package is there on the counter. There are fifty states in United States. There're is the contraction of they are. Ex: They're ready to see you now.

To / Too / Two

To is (1) part of the infinitive form or (2) a preposition. Ex: I like to walk in the snow. I walked to the park on Saturday. Too is an adverb indicating an excess. Ex: It is too cold to go swimming. Two is a number (2). Ex: I have two cats kitty and whiskers.

Weather / Whether

Weather is a noun meaning atmospheric conditions. Ex: The weather was not nice enough to go out. Whether is a conjunction meaning if. Ex: I don't know whether he will stay at home or not.

Who's / Whose

Who's is the contraction for who is. Ex: I don't know who's coming tonight. Whose is (1) a question word or (2) a possessive relative pronoun. Whose pen is this I met the man whose child scored the winning goal.