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A figure of Speech: Oxymoron

Definition and Meaning of an Oxymoron

“Oxymorons” have been used since the heyday of Greek poetry, The Greco-Roman Period. 

They are a figure of speech in which seemingly contradictory concepts are smashed together, and a literary device that describes those contradictory bits of life, like a bittersweet moment. 

I Hope This Blog Doesn’t Go Down Like a Lead Balloon

As I write this blog, I hope it doesn’t go down like a lead balloon, fail to be engaging, or communicate my point. 

This “oxymoron” is as fun as “jumbo shrimp.” The images it brings to mind are exceedingly funny. It could even be applied to historic events like the crash of the Zeppelin.

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Meaning and use of Interrogative Sentence: Who

Definition of Interrogative Sentences

Interrogative Sentence is used to ask questions. And, the most common interrogative words, in alphabetical order, are:

WhatWhenWhereWhetherWhich
WhoWhomWhoseWhyHow

These words are sometimes called “wh-words” because most of them begin with wh. “Who,” a wh-word is our interrogative word of the day. 

“Who,” pronounced /ho͞o/, is a Pronoun that means what or which person or people, among other things. 

Who is Behind the Mask

For example, you may go to a Halloween party and hear a native English speaker ask, “Who is  behind the mask?” This may even be something you’ve wondered about Batman or the anime character Tuxedo Mask. By asking this, the speaker wants to know who is wearing the mask. Sometimes costumes conceal identity. 

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Know about Modal Verbs of Probability Present – Can’t

Meaning of Modal Verbs

Modal Verbs are statements of probability. Modal Verbs express a belief in an outcome. The Modal Verb “can’t,” the topic of today’s lesson, expresses that something is most likely untrue.

When it comes to the Modal Verbs, “can’t” is usually used with “be” to speak of disbelief.

What Alva said can’t be true

For example: 

When Alva said he had invented electric light, nobody believed him. The people said, “this can’t be true, it’s the fire that lights the home.”

Those who heard Alva speak believed that he was lying and so they showed their disbelief by saying “this can’t be true.” Yet, it was true, Thomas Alva Edison invented the light bulb.

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Idioms with the word “Change”: Change of Heart

Meaning of the Idiom “Change of heart”

The idiom “change of heart” doesn’t literally mean that you can swap one organ with another. It means that you can change your mind, usually after long consideration. 

As you know, you can’t change your heart, you were born with it. But, the English idiom “change of heart” implies that you can. 

Mary Had a Change of Heart and Set Her Little Lamb Free

You may know the Nursery Rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Taking from that, I have an example of the idiom “change of heart” to share: 

Mary had a little lamb. Mary loved her little lamb. But, one day she had a change of heart and decided it was time to set the little lamb free. For she knew that to love something is to let it go. If it returns, it loves you.

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The Adverb: Why- The right way of using it in sentences with examples.

Know the Adverb: Why

We are talking about “why” as an Adverb. However, “why” may be used as a Conjunction, Interjection, or Noun. 

“Why” is one of our ‘wh’-words and the ‘h‘ is silent. It’s pronounced /waɪ/ if you’re familiar with the phonetic alphabet. 

“Why” is defined thusly: 

For what cause, reason, or purpose did you do it? 

At least for our purpose. As a Noun or Conjunction, the definition slightly varies. 

This is how “why” functions as an Adverb.

Why Do You Listen to Rock ‘n’ Roll? 

You may be asked:

“Why do you like Rock ‘n’ Roll?” 

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Passive Voice in Present Simple sentences-Definition, Examples, and Practice exercise.

Meaning and use of Passive voice in a proper sentence

How do I use Passive Voice in a proper sentence?

There’s a format for converting Simple Present Tense Active Voice sentences into the Passive Voice. It’s: 

Object + is/are + Past Participle

For Example, “The pottery is made by Gilda.”

“The pottery” is the Object. And then we have “is.” “Made.” “Made” is the Past Participle of the verb make. Finally, we throw the Preposition “by” into the mix and our Subject “Gilda.” 

But, this can easily be rewritten in the Active Voice.

“Gilda makes the pottery.” 

Sentences like this focus on the subject and the reader’s thoughts are with Gilda.

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As a writer, I’m often told not to use Passive Voice because it’s used to shift blame. Sentences like:

“Mistakes were made by the fire department,” place the focus on “mistakes” rather than the “fire department.” It’s almost like the fire department wants the reader to be aware of the mistakes but only vaguely associate the fire department with them. To rectify the sentence, in regards to placing blame, not grammar, it might be better to write: 

“The fire department made mistakes.”  

Even style guides suggest using Passive Voice lightly. 

However, Passive Voice can be used to highlight a sentence’s Object. Or, as aptly described by Steven Pinker, “Passive [Voice] allows the writer to direct the reader’s gaze, like a cinematographer choosing the right camera angle (The Sense of Style).” 

For example: 

“The pottery is made by Gilda,” draws attention to “the pottery.” Typically, “the pottery” would be in the sentence’s Object and the sentence would read like this:

“Gilda makes the pottery.” 

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Idiom: Green Thumb-Definition, Meaning, and Origin, with examples

The origin:

The Lady has a Green Thumb

Back in the 1900s, the term “green fingers” was popular in the United Kingdom. It came from the green-stained fingers of farmers. 

Often, plant extracts are used to dye fabric. Many plants secrete a stain. And so, during the harvest, the fingertips of farmers’ would become green with plant dyes. 

The earliest use of “green fingers” came from the novel “The Misses Make-Believe” by Mary Stuart Boyd, a Scottish author. 

She wrote: 

“What old wives call green fingers: those magic digits that appear to ensure the growth of everything they plant.” 

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Later, the phrase “green thumb” came about. It was first used in the Daily Globe, in 1937.

An American journalist wrote: 

“Miss Dvorak has what is known as the green thumb. That’s horticultural slang for being a successful gardener.”

Having a green thumb is a blessing. Those who have a green thumb make the plants grow. And, it’s said that “the lady who has a green thumb never lacks beauty, she is surrounded by flowers, nor goes hungry, food springs from the earth for her.” 

Of course, having a green thumb can be cultivated and many have found their green thumb during the pandemic. 

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Know how to use Past Continuous Passive voice

Structure and Rules of Using Past Continous Passive Voice

There are times you may want to write in both Passive Voice and Past Continuous tense. Simply, the Past Continuous tense can be identified by the past tense form of “be” and Verbs ending in ing

For example, the sentence: 

“Many elephants were being killed by poachers,” suggests that elephants had been killed by poachers, but no longer are. Something stopped the elephants from being killed. 

Passive Voice is deployed to highlight a sentence’s Object. In our case, “elephants.” By writing the above example, we want the reader to focus on the “elephants” rather than the poachers. “For example,” the sentence could be rewritten in an Active Voice like so:

“Poachers were killing elephants.” 

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Psychologically, we are trained to focus on a sentence’s header. A sentence’s subject is much more significant to the reader or listener. 

You may ask, how was this sentence constructed? There’s a simple format to follow. It goes like this: 

Object + was/were + being + Past Participle Simple, right? 

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Idiom: Green-Eyed Monster-Definition and Origin

Origin of the Idiom: Green-Eyed Monster

The idiom, “green-eyed monster,” comes from Shakespeare’s Othello, a play about jealousy. And, jealousy is referred to as the “green-eyed monster,” in this work of fiction. In fact, there’s no actual monster or players with green eyes in Othello, it’s just to represent envy. 

Othello’s Green-Eyed Monster

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In the play, Lago, the antagonist, says “O! beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mocks the meat it feeds on.” Or simply put, jealousy, the “green-eyed monster,” makes a monster of anyone who lets it into their life, hence, it mocks that which it feasts upon. 

It’s believed that the idiom “green-eyed monster” alludes to the eyes of cats. Their eyes tease their prey before pouncing on them. But, as is the case with all idioms, its origin is unknown, there’s no telling where Shakespeare heard it before he wrote it in Othello. 

Meaning of Green-Eyed in Western Culture

In Western culture, green is associated with 2 things, money, and jealousy. And those who envy are said to have “a green complexion.” So, green is usually associated with greed, envy, jealousy, and money. 

My advice to you, while studying English, is don’t let the green-eyed monster get you. It mocks the meat it feeds on. If someone has better grammar or pronunciation than you, that’s fine, practice until you reach your goals. Anything is better than falling to the green-eyed monster. 

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Euphemism: Au Naturel! Dictionary, meaning with example

Meaning of Euphemism 

A euphemism, by definition, is the substitution of an inoffensive phrase for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant. They are figures of speech that can be idioms or milder synonyms. 

Euphemism, with its awkwardly placed diphthong, is pronounced \ˈyü-fəˌmi-zəm\, for those who are familiar with the phonetic alphabet. It’s one of the few English words that begin with eu

Venus is au naturel

Speaking of euphemisms, you may be familiar with Sandro Botticelli’s, “The Birth of Venus”, and you may call the painting “a nude.” If you did so, you wouldn’t be wrong. 

Yet, it’s important to recall that Western Civilization has roots in Puritanism, a belief that certain subjects are taboo to speak of and that certain phrases may evoke wanton thoughts. With this in mind, you may want to use the euphemism: 

“Botticelli’s Venus is au naturel,” 

When referring to the painting, it’s less provocative than using the words “naked” or “nude” in describing it.

Sandro Botticelli’s Artwork
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