Tag Archives: english usage

#EngTrivia: ‘That’ vs. ‘Which’

Hey, fellas! Today, I want to talk about yet another usage case where two words look interchangeable but are actually not. The words are ‘that’ and ‘which’. Both words are used to introduce a particular clause in a sentence.

The usage rule is actually simple: In a restrictive clause, use ‘that’. In a non-restrictive clause, use ‘which’. You can read more about restrictive and non-restrictive clause here.

Pay attention to this sentence:

  1. Dave’s wall art that I bought yesterday is my favorite.
  2. Dave’s wall art, which I bought yesterday, is my favorite.

The first sentence implies that Dave has created more than one wall art, but my favorite is the one that I bought yesterday. That I bought yesterday’ is a necessary information. This is what we call restrictive clause. Therefore, we use ‘that‘ to introduce the clause. Without the clause, we don’t know which wall art of Dave’s that I’m talking about, since Dave has created more than one artwork.

In the second sentence, I’m saying that Dave’s wall art is my favorite. I’m probably comparing it with other people’s artworks that aren’t Dave’s. And I happened to purchase the wall art just yesterday. ‘Which I bought yesterday‘ is just an additional information. Even if I remove the clause, the sentence is still complete. This is what we call non-restrictive clause. We use ‘which’ to introduce this clause.

There you go, fellas. I hope it clears the confusion regarding the usage of ‘that’ and ‘which’.


Compiled and written by @Fafafin for @EnglishTips4U on Thursday, February 16, 2017

 

Advertisements

#EngQuiz: ‘Can’ vs ‘be able to’

Hi, fellas! In this post, we’re doing an #EngQuiz on the usage of “can” vs “be able to” that we have discussed before. Choose the correct word or phrase to fill these sentences!

1. She has confirmed that she _____ attend the meeting tomorrow.
a. can
b. is able to
c. both are correct
Correct! We can use either “can” or “be able to” to talk about the ability to do something on a specific occasion in the future.
2. He said he stayed up late last night but he _____ write anything.
a. can’t
b. couldn’t
Correct! We can use the past form of either “can” or “be able to” in negative statements about something in the past.
 c. isn’t able to
d. weren’t able to
3. I _____ juggle up to four balls at a time.
a. can
b. am able to
c. both are correct
Correct! We can use either “can” or “be able to” in the present tense to talk about an ability to do things.
4. _____ win one of the doorprize back then?
a. Can you
b. Could you
c. Are you able to
d. Were you able to
Correct! We only use “was/were able to” to talk about something we succeeded in doing on a specific time in the past.
5. If the device is too hot, it _____ damage the battery.
a. can
Correct! We only use “can” or “could” in the present tense to talk about possibilities.
b. is able to
Nope!
c. both are correct
Nay!
6. I _____ crawl through that little gap between the bushes when I was a kid.
a. can
b. can’t
c. could
Correct! We can use either “could” or “was/were able to” to talk about an ability that someone doesn’t have anymore.
d. were able to

Compiled and written by @fafafin for @EnglishTips4U on Thursday, January 19, 2017

 

#EngTrivia: “Can” vs “Be Able to”

In this post, we will talk about the use of “can” and “be able to”. “Can” and “be able to” are often interchangeable, but there are some occasions where only one of them is correct.

Both “can” and “be able to” is used:

1. In the present tense to talk about an ability to do things. In this case, “can” is more common, while “be able to” sounds more formal and less natural.

  • Example:
    • “I can play guitar.” ✔
    • “I am able to play guitar.” ✔
  1. To talk about the ability to do something on a specific occasion in the future.
  • Example:
    • “I can do the interview tomorrow.” ✔
    • “I am able to do the interview tomorrow.” ✔
    • “When I’m done writing this essay, we can hang out.” ✔
    • “When I’m done writing this essay, we will be able to hang out.” ✔

3. To talk about an ability that someone doesn’t have anymore.

  • Example:
    • “I could stay up until 3 AM when I was a student.” ✔
    • “I was able to stay up until 3 AM when I was a student.”✔

 

We only use “can” or “could” in the present tense to talk about possibilities.

  • Example:
    • “With that much preparation, I think they can win the academic bowl.” ✔
    • “With that much preparation, I think they are able to win the academic bowl.” ✖

 

We only use “was/were able to” to talk about something we succeeded in doing on a specific time in the past.

  • Example:
    • “I was able to sleep last night.” ✔
    • “I could sleep last night.” ✖

 

However, it is okay to use either “could not” or “was/were not able to” in negative statements about something the past.

  • Example:
    • “I couldn’t ride a bike when I was a teenager.” ✔
    • “I wasn’t able to ride a bike when I was a teenager.”✔
    • “We couldn’t get tickets to the premiere yesterday.” ✔
    • “We weren’t able to get tickets to the premiere yesterday.” ✔

 

By the way, you can read more about the usage of “can” vs. “could” as well as other modal auxiliary verbs in this article. Feel free to drop a comment if you have any question.

 

Compiled and written by @Fafafin for @EnglishTips4U on Thursday, December 29, 2016

 

Related post(s):

 

^MQ