English Corner(September)

by Fei Chen, PhD student of Literary Studies in English │ ISSUE81 September2018 MyUM

In English, there is a myriad of verbs, such as to sling, to throw and to fling, which indicate similar actions but have distinct nuances that are necessary to consider before choosing the proper one to use in a particular context.

In this issue, I would like to share two pairs of verbs of this kind. Let’s explore the similarities and differences among them with examples.

1. to sling and to fling:

They both indicate the action to throw. In daily conversation, they both can mean to give or to throw. The sentence ‘Can you fling the pen over here?’ means the same as ‘Can you sling me the pen?’.

However, each of them denotes a distinct type of throwing motion. When you sling your bag on the floor, you throw it on the floor carelessly, whereas when you fling your bag on the floor, you throw it with a lot of force.

2.to smoulder and to blaze:

They both encompass the action to burn, however they each indicate a different intensity of burning.

If you say the bonfire is smouldering, you mean it is burning slowly without flame.

If you say the bonfire is blazing, you mean it is burning fiercely with a bright flame.

English teems with pairs of verbs like this. Other examples can be to thrash versus to hit, to thrust versus to push, to haul versus to pull, as well as to flop versus to fall. Paying attention to their subtle differences can help you express yourself more clearly and distinctly.

Contributions to this column are from the Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Humanities