What’s the difference between ‘envelope’ and ‘envelop’?

The first is a noun and the second a verb. An ‘envelope’ is something in which you send a letter. Nowadays of course, not many people use ‘envelopes’ because they prefer email.

When used as a noun, the ‘en’ is pronounced ‘on’ and the following ‘e’ is like the ‘a’ in ‘china’. The ‘o’ is like the ‘o’ in ‘so’, ‘go’, and ‘no’, and the final ‘e’ is silent. The stress in this case is on the first syllable. The word is pronounced ‘onvelope’.

When used as a verb, the word means to surround or cover something completely. The ‘en’ is pronounced like the word ‘in’, and the following ‘e’ sounds like the ‘e’ in ‘set’, ‘bet’, and ‘get’. The ‘o’ is like the ‘a’ in ‘china’, and the main stress is on the second syllable. The word is pronounced ‘invelep’.

*The fog had enveloped the airport. The pilot couldn’t see a thing.

*The plan seems to be enveloped in secrecy.

Source: “The Hindu”   – Know Your English  Column –  March 11, 2008

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Difference between `work for someone’ and `work with someone’

When you `work for’ someone, you are his employee; you have been hired by him to do a job. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this individual knows you personally; and chances are you may not be working along with him. Lots of people work for the Prime Minister; it doesn’t mean that Dr. Manmohan Singh knows everyone personally.

How would you like to work for Ambani?

When you `work with’ someone, you work along with the person. He may or may not be your boss. In this case, since the two of you work side by side, you see him on a regular basis and know him personally.

For my PhD, I would like to work with Prof. Nagalakshmi.

Source: “The Hindu”   – Know Your English  Column –  Feb 26, 2008

Difference between `alumni’, and `alumnae’

The `alumni’ of a university are the students who have graduated from it; the word is used to refer to both male and female students. `Alumnae’ are the female graduates of a university or college. The final `ae’ in `alumnae’ is pronounced like the `ee’ in `fees’, `bees’, and `trees’.

Source: “The Hindu”   – Know Your English  Column –  Feb 26, 2008

Difference between ‘misogynist’ and ‘misogamist’

Pronunciation:

The first syllable in both words is pronounced like the word ‘miss’. The following ‘o’ sounds like the ‘o’ in ‘hot’, ‘pot’, and ‘got’, and the ‘g’ is like the ‘j’ in ‘jam’ and ‘juice’. The ‘y’ in ‘misogynist’ is like the ‘i’ in ‘pit’ and ‘hit’, while the ‘a’ in ‘misogamist’ is like the ‘a’ in ‘china’. The final syllable in both words rhymes with ‘list’ and ‘gist’, and the main stress is on the second syllable ‘so’.

A misogynist is a man who hates women. This individual feels that men are superior to women. A ‘misogamist’, on the other hand, is someone who hates marriage. This word is not found in all dictionaries.

Source: “The Hindu”   – Know Your English  Column –  Feb 19, 2008

Difference between “sojourn” and “journey”

When you take a journey, you travel from one place to another. The distance may be covered in a matter of few hours, or it may take several days or months. A journey may or may not involve a brief halt or stop somewhere along the way. The original meaning of ‘journey’ was a day’s travel.

*The two drove like crazy and completed the journey in five hours.

As for the word ‘sojourn’, first, let’s deal with the pronunciation. The ‘o’ in the first syllable is like the ‘o’ in ‘hot’, ‘got’, and ‘pot’. The ‘j’ that follows is like the ‘j’ in ‘jam’, ‘jack’, and ‘job’; the final ‘ourn’ is like the ‘urn’ in ‘burn’ and ‘turn’. The stress is on the first syllable ‘so’. A ‘sojourn’ is a not a journey of any kind. When you sojourn somewhere, you stay in that place for a short while; the stay is usually temporary. The word is mostly used in formal contexts.

*Dravid sojourned at his brother’s home on his way to Mumbai.

Source: “The Hindu”   – Know Your English  Column –  Feb 12, 2008

Difference between ‘missive’ and ‘letter’

First, the pronunciation:  The first syllable of ‘miss’ is pronounced like the word ‘miss’, while the second sounds like the ‘ive’ in ‘massive’ and ‘passive’. The stress is on the first syllable. A missive is a longish letter, often official, sent by someone. It is usually sealed and contains ‘private’ information. The word is considered rather old fashioned, and is mostly used in literary contexts; in informal contexts, it is used humorously.

Example: After the meeting, the Ambassador sat down and wrote a five page missive to the President.

The word ‘missive’ comes from the Latin ‘missus’ meaning ‘to send’; missives are usually sent to individuals. ‘Letter’, on the other hand, is a general term and it can be sent to individuals, companies, organisations, etc. It may deal with business or private matters.

Source: “The Hindu”   – Know Your English  Column –  Feb 05, 2008

Difference between ‘immoral’ and ‘amoral’?

When you say that someone is ‘immoral’ what you mean is that the person does a lot of things that are not morally acceptable; he does things that are positively wrong. When the word is used with people, it is always used to show disapproval. Perhaps the individual swindles people, has extramarital affairs, etc.

Example: What you are doing would be considered to be immoral by most people. *

A person who is ‘amoral’ does not know the difference between right and wrong, and he doesn’t really care whether what he does is morally right or wrong. He is not concerned with morals; he is outside the sphere of morality. Unlike the word ‘immoral’, ‘amoral’ is not always used to show disapproval.

Example: According to the critic, the hero had an amoral attitude towards murder.

Source: “The Hindu”   – Know Your English  Column –  Jan 22, 2008