Let's Speak English

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letters - private stationery for your private letters - and official stationery - also for your priv

Now there are two PRINCIPLES which you must remember. One's a PRlNCIPAL (P-A·L) and the other a PRINCIPLE (P-L·E).

A PRINCIPAL is the head of a school or college; while a PRINCIPLE is a part of your personal code of morals. You can say, for example, that dancing is against your principles - though nobody'll believe you.

When I was a boy at school I hated both my PRINCIPALS and my PRINCIPLES. Both got in the way of my pleasures and, as far as I can see, that's the only connexion between the two words.

I for got to mention that PRINCIPAL (P-A·L) can also be used as an adjective, meaning, 'the most important'. For example, we must all admit that the PRINCIPAL exports of Palestine are oranges - and propaganda.

Let's consider for a moment the words LOSE and LOOSE. Loss has one o while LOOSE has two o's.

To LOSE means 'to cease by negligence to possess something'. For example, if you are not careful, you'll lose your job, or your temper, or your trousers.

You also lose if you are defeated in a game or competition. It seems to be one of the laws of nature for Oxford to lose the boat race. Last year ,of course, Oxford won. But that was a miracle.

On the. other hand, LOOSE (with two o's) refers to something released from restraint. The dog gets loose; or your tooth is loose, or my button is loose. When people talk too much, we sometimes say that their tongues are loose.

Now I'm going to tell you something about words that come from the same root but have different forms and uses. Let's start with BATH and BATHE.

BATH is a noun, the name of something. BATHE (with an E at the end) is a verb, the act of having a bath. You can say 'Every day in the summer I BATHE in the sea but I only have a BATH once a month'. But even if that's true, I don't think it's very nice of you to mention it.

Similarly with BREATH and BREATHE.

BREATH is the air you take into your lungs and push out again. It's a noun, and if you want to know what a noun sounds like - just listen (deep breath).

That was a noun.

BREATHE, on the other hand, (with an E at the end) is a verb, the act of taking breath. Now we none of us love our landlords, do we? So I can tell you in confidence that, when my landlord comes for my rent, I lock the door and hold my BREATH. But as soon as he's gone away again, I can BREATHE freely.

Or let's take the words RISE and RAISE, which both come from the same root. RAISE is a transitive verb: that is, it needs an object. You can't say 'I RAISE' by itself. You have to RAISE something. You RAISE your hand. Or your boss can raise your hopes instead of your salary.

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