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Your English Questions

Average: 3.5 (6 votes)

Every month we ask our newsletter readers to send their English language questions to EC Brighton's teacher, Tim. Here are the best questions of the month.

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+ ing verb vs. to + base form

Question:I would like to know the difference between to + ing verb and to + base form
eg: we help poor to cheering up their lives.
we help poor to cheer up their lives.
I would like to know the difference in the meanings.
Deen Renox

Answer: The second example is correct, the first is not.
It is not so much a difference in meaning, as what is the correct form after which verb. The verb help is followed by the infinitive, with or without to. Some other verbs that are followed by to infinitives are promise, decide and agree.
Eg, ‘He promised to write to me’, ‘They decided to go to France for their holiday’, ‘Will you agree to meet me?’
Some verbs are followed by …ing verbs, like fancy, enjoy and avoid.
Eg, ‘What do you fancy having for lunch?’, ‘She enjoys painting’, ‘Try to avoid speaking your own language when you are here’.
However, there are some verbs like remember, forget and try can be followed by either to infinitive or ing, but this changes the meaning.
A good grammar book will show you which verbs are followed by which form, you have to learn them individually.
Do not use to with …ing verbs except when the to is a preposition, eg in the verbs look forward to, and sometimes admit.
‘I’m looking forward to going away,’ He admitted to committing the murder’
Again, these verbs. expressions have to be learnt individually too.
All the best,

been vs gone

Question: What is the difference between "I have been in USA" and "I have gone USA"?
Goker Cetin,Turkey

Answer :If you use gone, you imply that it is one way and you have not returned from the USA. If you use been, it means you have gone and come back, or visited if you like. When we use the present perfect with been, we are often talking about travelling experiences.
We use ever and never often with this.
EG ‘Have you ever been to Paris? ‘
‘Yes I went last year’, or ‘No, I’ve never been there but I went to Nice a few years ago’
All the best,

possibility and probability

Question: I'd like to know the difference between possibility and probability.
I've looked up in several grammar books but couldn't find or understood the difference between them.
Katalin Homonnay, Brazil

Answer: If there is a possibility that something will happen , we mean it might /could happen. Perhaps a 50/50 chance.
If there is a probability that something will happen, the chances are higher and much more likely to happen. Perhaps a 75/25 chance.
All the best,

definite article

Question: Please tell me when and when not to use the definite article "the" in Eglish writings? And in this respect, what is the difference between "The person with the best Question will win €30 of Amazon Vouchers" and "Person with best question will win €30 of the Amazon Voucher"?
Salem El Turbi, Libya

Answer: In this context, using the refers to the vouchers you know about, in the first statement it is more general. When introducing a noun it is common to use a/no article , but in the next comment we know the noun and use the.
EG, A policewoman was chatting to some school children. When she had finished, the policewoman got on her bike and cycled off. Articles in English can sometimes be difficult to understand. A good grammar book will help you, as will reading as much as you can.
All the best,

lay vs. lie

Question: My question is that I always feel confused words when I use them : LAY and LIE , because of their similar spelling and similar meaning. Please give me the useful tip when trying to decide between LAY and LIE.
Mario Andreone, Italy

Answer: Ok this is quite straightforward, lie is intransitive (-object) and lay is transitive(+object).
EG I am going to lie down on the bed.
We need to lay the cloth on the table.

Another couple of words that have a similar use are rise and raise.
EG The sun rises in the morning. Raise your hand if you know the answer.
All the best,

Illusion vs. delusion

Question: I've got a question about two words, that i've always wondered about. What is the diffrence between " Illusion " & " Delusion" ? And when can we use each one ? I have looked up for them in a dictionnary but found that they are the same, I thought there might be something else about them.
Nawal, Morocco

Answer: Hmm this is a tricky one, so I’m going to give my personal interpretation! :)
An illusion is something that you perceive as different to how it appears; images, pictures etc.
Delusion is more commonly used in an uncountable way. People suffer from delusion, perhaps when they think they are something that they are not. A common collocation is the expression delusions of grandeur, when a person suffers from delusions of grandeur, they think that they are more important than they are. To say that someone is deluded means that they have no idea about the reality of a situation.
All the best,

modern English

Question: What is the main difference of tips between the ancient and colloquial/modern English Language in our daily English conversation?
Aniket Sengupta, India

Answer: It’s the same as in any language old stuff vs new stuff, formal stuff vs informal stuff, etc etc. All languages continually evolve, and of the old stuff, generally it is the formal writings than are recorded. The normal ‘street’ language just morphs into the vernacular we use today!
All the best,

few vs. a few

Question: I would like to know the difference between 'few' and 'a few'.

Answer: Few means that there aren’t many things, a few means there are some. There may be the same amount, but perceived differently.
I have a few chores to do before I can relax.
There were few people at the concert.
It works the same with little and a little used with uncountable nouns.
All the best,

have got vs. got

Question: My question is, what's the different between I have got and I have?
Júlio Wakela

Answer: Both mean the same. I have 2 brothers and I’ve got 2 brothers mean the same thing. The use of get in the present perfect has the same use as have in the present simple.
All the best,