Tag Archives: prepositions

Common Errors: Pay vs Pay For and Other Common Expressions

Oh my! We are enjoying the last week of summer and I don’t want to think about what’s ahead of us. I quite like autumn provided it doesn’t rain a lot, but I absolutely hate winter. Light for me is essential and where I live, surrounded by beautiful misty green mountains, we don’t get to see much light in winter. That’s the downside.
Anyway, I got the idea for this post just before my brain exploded after endless hours of correcting errors from essays.

Have a look at these two sentences. Take your time.
Which is correct? The first? The second? Or maybe both?
1. I paid the tickets with my credit card
2. I paid for the tickets with my credit card

At the end of this blog post, you’ll find a little quiz to test your knowledge, but now here’s the explanation:

The verb “to pay” can be both transitive and intransitive.

Intransitive

  1. You” pay FOR something” when saying exactly what you’ll receive in return for the money/payment. Therefore, sentence 2 above is correct. (I paid the tickets with my credit card) 
  • I paid for the tickets with my credit card
  • My son pays for his internet connection with his pocket money.
  • How much would you pay for that jacket?

Transitive

  1. You “pay something” when you don’t mention what is being purchased.
  • I paid 50€ to get a good seat
  • Everybody in Spain must pay taxes
  • I need to work if I want to pay the bills/the rent
  1. You “pay someone”.
  • I paid him 50€
  • He has always paid his employees
  • Can you pay the plumber for fixing the tap?

And now that we are on the subject 🙂  perhaps  you’re williing to go the extra mile and learn a few expressions with this common verb. Here we go. Just 6.

  • To pay in advance= to pay for something before it is received or delivered

                              I paid in advance for the first night in the hotel

  • To pay an arm and a leg/ to pay through the nose for something = you pay too much

                           Most Americans pay an arm and a leg to provide their families with a health plan

  • To pay the price= to suffer the consequences for doing something or risking something

                           Those who did not get off early paid the price and couldn’t get there on time

  • To pay as you go = to pay costs as they occur; to pay for goods as they are bought (rather than charging them)

                                  Get a pay as you go mobile

  • To pay (someone) peanuts= to pay someone the absolute minumum amount necessary.

                         Talking about money, we hear that in sweatshops workers are paid peanuts.

  • To pay attention to (someone/something)= to give attention to someone/something              As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.
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And here’s the quiz, as promised.

A word on Grammar: Because and Because Of

Do you know the difference between these two structures? Do you know how to use them?

  • Because is a conjunction. It is followed by Subject+Verb

I didn’t go out because it was raining

  • Because of  is a two-word preposition. It is used before a noun or a pronoun

I didn’t go out because of the rain

(due to is similar to because of)

Test your knowledge now with this interactive quiz.

If the quiz is unavailable , click here

Because and because of 

Music can also help you a lot with your English. Here’s this beautiful song by Kelly Clarkson. Enjoy it and listen very attentively to the chorus. You’ll hear our targeted grammar point.

Did you Know…… Near?

Look at these two sentences. Are both sentences correct?

  • I live near the school
  • I live near to the school

The answer is yes.

Near can be used as a preposition .When near is a prepostion , near to is less common but also possible .

  • Go and sit nearer (to) the fire
  • We came near (to) being killed.

Source : Practical English Usage (Michael Swan/Oxford) and Oxford Dictionaries

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A Word on Grammar: Between versus Among

I sometimes wonder if I get a little too excited about the things I teach. Perphaps , I should  tamp down my enthusiasm when I tell my students that so and so is veeerry eeeeasy! I wonder if they are beginning  to doubt my sincerity but the truth is that English grammar is very easy to teach/grasp, especially when  compared to the Spanish one.

Albert Einstein once  said : “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Anyway, what I really wanted to ask you is : “Do you really know the difference between Among and Between?”

I bet you’ve been taught, as I was, that the difference between Among and Between is that Between is used when we are talking about two items and Among when we are talking about more than two. Hey , listen , don’t panic,  most of the time it works…. but unfortunately not always . The definition is good enough to explain some sentences but  then … how do you explain that this sentence below is also  grammatically correct?

My house is between the forest, the school and the lake

The thing is that between is normally  used when we are talking about two people or two things but it can also be used to refer to three  or more clearly separate people or things.

Among is used when talking about people or things in a group, a crowd or a mass of people which we don’t see separately, ie, we don’t have a definite number in mind though clearly more than two

My house is among mountains

Let’s compare these two sentences. Imagine you are going to a party and you cannot decide what to wear.

1.I am trying to decide between the blue shirt, the white  shirt  or the green shirt

2. I am trying to decide among my shirts

In sentence number 1 I am choosing between a specific number of items

In sentence number 2 I am choosing between an indefinite  number of items

Two more examples might help:

There is a lot of disagreement between Germany, Spain and Finland (three specific countries)

There is a lot of disagreement among some  European countries (you don’t name them specifically)

Hope it helps!

Word of the day: Dream Of/About, Get Married/Marry

Although my favourite expression in class is ” It is very easy”, there’s no point in denying English prepositions are hard to learn, if you can ever say you learn them. I don’t know about other languages but Spanish students seem to consistently make mistakes when using prepositions after these two verbs. Let’s study them:

 

TO MARRY AND TO BE/GET MARRIED 

  •  marry somebody (no preposition required)

Please, marry me !! he said

I married a person I am still in love with

  • be/get married to somebody. (not with)

She used to be married to my brother

I got married to my childhood sweetheart

♥ TO DREAM 

  • dream about sth /sb when you are sleeping

Last night I dreamt about the exam

  • dream of  you are awake, you think about something pleasant you would like to happen .

I have always dreamt of visiting Japan

She had this romantic dream of changing the world

Hope it helps!! 🙂

 A little quiz , perhaps?
[spoiler title=’She dreamed ___becoming a chef.’ style=’default’ collapse_link=’true’]of[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=’I dreamt ___ you last night.’ style=’default’ collapse_link=’true’]about[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=’I married__ Alex because I love him.’ style=’default’ collapse_link=’true’](-)[/spoiler]
[spoiler title=’I got married __ Peter in Asturias (Spain)’ style=’default’ collapse_link=’true’]to[/spoiler]
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