Sunday, May 14, 2017

May Language Corner information

Maybe vs may be

The most obvious difference between maybe and may be is that maybe is an adverb, which means that it's modifying a verb/adjective/another adverb, and it means “perhaps” or “potentially”. May be is a verb phrase that implies that something is possible.

We use maybe and may be to talk about possibility. They are often confused because we use them both when we think that something is possible but we are not certain.

Maybe as an adverb

Maybe /ˈmeɪbi/ is an adverb and it means the same as perhaps. It is written as one word:
Maybe no one will come to the party.
Not: May be no one will come to the party.
Spoken English:
In speaking, we sometimes use maybe at the end of what we say when we are making a suggestion which we are not very certain about:
There’s something wrong with my PC. I can’t load my photos.
It could be a virus, maybe.
Spoken English:
In speaking, we can use maybe as a response when we agree that something is possible:
Ronnie and Linda are going to leave New Zealand in January.
Why? I thought they were very happy there.
I’m not sure. Perhaps they feel a bit lonely.
We can also use maybe to express uncertainty in response to a suggestion:
Would you like to have chicken curry for dinner?
You don’t sound very enthusiastic.
I just can’t think about dinner right now. I’ve just had breakfast.

May be

In the phrase may be /meɪ bi:/ may is a modal verb and be is a main or auxiliary verb. Here may and be are two separate words, whereas maybe is one word:
There may be a train at 10.00am.
Not: There maybe a train at 10.00am.
He may be waiting for us.
See also:
·         May

Typical error

·         We use may as a modal verb in the phrase may be. They are two separate words. We use maybe as an adverb:
This may be the last match that he plays for Barcelona.
Not: This maybe the last match that he plays for Barcelona.

The verb BECOME means ’develop or grow into’. This means that some change takes place:
’He became a journalist.’
First, he wasn’t a journalist, but there was some change (e.g. he finished university) and after that he was a journalist.
Some other examples are:

  • She was the first woman to become Prime Minister.
  • Things always become clearer in the morning.
  • I’d like to become a better teacher.
  • After the divorce, he became a sad man.
  • When did you decide to become a doctor?
  • Janet has become a grown woman since I last saw her
  • Why has Mr Swan become so bitter?
  • Queen Elizabeth II became queen at the age of 25.
  • One day, Robin will become as famous as Batman.
  • Bruce Banner becomes Hulk when he’s upset.
The verb GET has a lot of different meanings. The most important ones are as follows:
When you use it before an adjective, it means BECOME.
For example, GET ANGRY means BECOME ANGRY and GET OLD means BECOME OLD.
  • He’ll get angry when he finds out.
  • I don’t ever want to get old.

Some other examples:
  • Have you seen Janet? She’s got so thin. I wonder if she’s OK.
  • Mum, I’ve crashed your car. Don’t get upset, please.’
  • Visit our website to get inspired.
Note: You cannot use GET with nouns. ’He got a journalist’ is not correct, it doesn’t mean ’he became a journalist.’


  • I got this watch from my grandfather.
  • She’s just got a message from her boyfriend.
  • I’ll be grounded if I get a bad mark on my math test.

  • Can you get some bread when you go shopping?
  • Where did you get those trainers? I love them.
  • I didn’t get anything for Chris for his birthday.
  • When did you get home last night?
  • I’m not sure how to get to John’s place.
  • When you get to the church, turn left and take the first street on the right.

  • Don’t you get it? He loves you.
  • I don’t get it, I’m afraid. Can you explain it to me?
  • Nobody gets my jokes. Maybe they’re not funny.


What is the difference between tell and say?
There is thus a slight grammatical difference; "to tell" requires that the object be the listener or recipient, and what is/was communicated becomes the object complement. With "to say", what is said is the object, unless a preposition is used to insert a listener as an object.

Meanings of Tell and Say
The meanings of these two verbs, tell and say, are similar. The main meaning of tell is to "say or write something to someone." The main meaning of say is to "use your voice to express something in words." However, there are some clear and easy rules to follow about when to use these two words, as shown below.

Usage rules for Tell and Say

Tell is used only to instruct or inform, and when the receiver of the information is included as an object of the verb. Do not use for quotes.
  • Has she told you the good news, yet?
  • Please tell us your name and occupation.
  • The police officer told him to stop. [NOT The police officer told him, "Stop."]
  • Can you tell me what happened?

Say is used for exact quotes, and when the receiver isn’t mentioned in the sentence:
  • “Good morning,” said the woman behind the counter.
  • I just stopped by to say hello.
  • I said three words before he interrupted me again.

Say is also used to express opinions:
  • I wouldn't say that he's a great guitarist [=I don't think he's a great guitarist].
  • They say that you should drink eight glasses of water a day.

There are other uses of both of these verbs. For more information about say and tell, follow the links below.



The direct object of say can be a noun, a that-clause (that can be omitted in informal styles) or an indirect question (in negatives and questions when the information is not actually reported):
Laura never says anything when asked.
Can you say your name again?
David says he's exhausted.
They said that they would wait for me.
She didn't say what time she would be back.

When we use to + indirect object after say, we do not normally use a that-clause:
He didn't say anything to me about the job.
"See you soon," Linda said to him.

Tell is usually followed by an indirect object and a direct object:
Has he told you the news?
Could you tell me your name, please?
They told me that they would wait for me.
She didn't tell me what time she would be back.

Phrases with TELL
In some of the phrases below, an indirect object is optional:
My father told (us) a very interesting story.
You must always tell (me) the truth.
John told (you) a lie.
No one can tell the future.
Can you tell the time in English?

ASK (SOMEONE) + indirect question
We can use ask to report questions:
Rebecca asked (me) where I lived.
The guide asked (us) if we had visited the museum before.

ASK/TELL SOMEONE + TO-infinitive
We can use ask or tell to report imperatives or requests:
Johnny's mother told him to put away his toys.
The examiner asked me to speak louder.

Imperative Verbs

Imperative verbs are verbs which create an imperative sentence, i.e. a sentence that gives an order. It will always sound like the speaker is bossing someone around. Imperative verbs don’t leave room for questions or discussion, even if the sentence has a polite tone.
Use the root form of the verb to create the imperative.
Give me that book!
Clean your room!
Do your homework.
Take the dog for a walk, please.
Don’t touch that!
Do come to visit us whenever you’re in town.
The imperative is a grammatical mood that forms commands or requests, including the giving of prohibition or permission, or any other kind of advice or exhortation. An example of a verb in the imperative mood is be in the English sentence "Please be quiet".

Things that you shouldn’t say

1. In the near of

We can’t use this expression in English. It’s enough to say:
“I live near London”
“the station is near the library”

2. For three years (if you mean “vor drei Jahren”)

“For three years” means that something has been going on for three years. The duration was three years.
I have been learning Turkish for three years. I began this activity three years ago and I am still learning Turkish.
I lived in London for eight years. We know that this is an action that has finished because we have the word “lived” in the sentence. So I moved to London, stayed there for eight years and now I live somewhere else.
“Vor drei Jahren” = three years ago.

3. In our English class we were five

“When I was five = als ich fünf war but this isn’t what we are talking about here.
There were five people in our English class.
We won’t all fit around that small table. There are five of us.
But avoid “we were/are + a number”.

4. I feel myself happy

When describing how you feel, don’t make the verb reflexive. I feel happy/sad/tired etc.

5. The dog of my friend

In English, the ‘ has several functions and one of them is to show possession:
My friend’s dog.
My sister’s birthday.
My friend’s uncle’s cat!

6. If I would have enough money

Perhaps I will write some other posts which look at conditional sentences in more detail but “would” does not belong in the part of the sentence which gives the condition. Depending on what you want to say, there are various ways in which we can write this sentence, but “if I would have” is not one of them.
If I have enough money, I will go on holiday.
If I had enough money, I would go on holiday.
If I had had enough money, I would have gone on holiday.

7. She slammed the door angry

In German, we don’t have to think about adjectives and adverbs but in English, using an adjective where you need an adverb is wrong.
Adjectives describe nouns: his singing was loud.
Adverbs describe verbs: he was singing loudly.
Our sentence needs an adverb because it is describing how she slammed the door. She slammed the door angrily.

8. I was in the bus

I know it sounds illogical that whilst we can be in the car, we have to be on the bus or on the train. After all, we don’t sit on the roof and ride on top of them! However as a general rule, “on” is used for many larger forms of transport:
On the bus
On the train
On the plane/airplane.

9. BR, KR etc

It’s not a case of avoiding abbreviations – we just don’t write these things! When I saw this for the first time, I had to ask what it meant. If you mean “kind regards”, you have to write “kind regards” if you want your English speaking reader to understand you.

10. How does it look like?

How does it look?
This is usually used if someone wants to know whether or not something looks ok. Maybe I’m trying on a dress in the shop and I ask a friend “how does it look?” What I really mean is “does it look good on me/do you like it/shall I buy it?”
What does it look like?
This is used when you want somebody to describe something to you. What shape is it? What color is it? How big is it? You want to know about its appearance.

No comments:

Post a Comment