All learners of English encounter problem points on their journey towards mastering the language. A number of readers have sent in queries about English grammar, words and phrases, idioms, style. Here are answers to a few queries.
Can the word ‘youth’ be used to refer to a young person? Is the plural form of the word acceptable?
Yes, a youth is a young man and the plural of ‘youth’ is ‘youths’. Here are some authentic examples of how the word is used in sentences:
Down by the bus station I was followed by a gang of youths chanting ‘Puff, the Magic Dragon’.
The youths had been trained especially to protect the women.
A group of Asian youths entered the park and each took a placard.
What is the difference between ‘to take an exam’ and ‘to give an exam’?
Students take examinations and teachers give examinations. Taking an examination or a test is something students do to prove their knowledge and giving an examination or a test is something teachers do to test students’ knowledge. Here are examples in context:
At the end of each level you take an exam and you can record your results as a graph.
This week he will give you a test drive.
Your score in the first test is low. You can ask your teacher to give you a retest.
Which is correct: a) to present someone with something, b) to present someone something?
‘To present someone with something’ means to give something to someone. It is incorrect to say ‘to present someone something’. It can be rephrased as ‘to present something to someone’ to make the phrase correct.
My colleagues presented me with some flowers and gifts on my birthday.
They presented the winner with a medal and a cash prize of Rs 50,000.
The old woman presented a glass of milk to the stranger. (without ‘with’)
Which is correct: (a) to provide someone something, (b) to provide someone with something, (c) to provide something for someone?
Option (a) ‘to provide someone something’ is incorrect whereas the other two options ‘to provide someone with something’ and ‘to provide something for someone’ are correct. ‘To provide something to someone’ is also correct. Examples:
We will provide the students with training and placement assistance.
The training will provide the students with an opportunity to enhance their skills.
Why don’t you provide remedial support to students who are not good in mathematics?
The Express Avenue mall provides entertainment facilities for visitors.
The sentence ‘My husband has provided me everything’ is incorrect. In order to make the sentence grammatically correct, the preposition ‘with’ should be inserted between ‘me’ and ‘everything’: My husband has provided me with everything.
When a sentence is used passively the preposition ‘with’ is not used:
Accommodation will be provided to all the resource persons of the conference.
Sanitary facilities for disabled people must be provided.
Learners of English interested in enhancing their knowledge of English usage should buy the book Practical English Usage by Michael Swan. It is a standard reference book for learners as well as teachers of English.