1.9. Explain the differences.
Bad drivers. / Women drivers. A debatable answer, this one. Women statistically have less accidents, but then, statistically, they spend less time in the car than men. Do they actually drive more carefully? Or just slower? Are they more annoying? Or are men more impatient? I’ll leave it to you to fight this one out. Just don’t hurt each other.
As there was a posh party at the Ritz, he decided to get dressed. / As there was a posh party at the Ritz, he decided to get dressed up. ‘To get dressed’ means to put on clothes. ‘To get dressed up’ means to put on your best clothes for a special occasion.
She picked up the phone in disgust. / She hung up the phone in disgust. ‘To pick up’ is to lift the phone. ‘To hang up’ is to put it back down when you finish a phone call. Illogical? Not really if you think about the original telephones that were hung ‘up’ on the wall.
At ten o’clock we broke out the bottles of champagne. / At ten o’clock we broke the bottles of champagne. ‘Broke out’ is a colloquial way of saying ‘to take out (from the fridge/cupboard etc)’. It is used for celebrations. ‘To break’ means to smash or destroy.
I’m anxious to tell my mum that I’ve got a new boyfriend. / I’m anxious about telling my mum that I’ve got a new boyfriend. ‘Anxious to’ is positive, and means that you can’t wait to. ‘Anxious about’ is negative, and means that you are worried about telling.’
An ancient mummy./ An old lady. / An antique doll. An ‘ancient mummy’ is probably from ancient Egypt. ‘Ancient’ is not used for people, ‘old’ is. ‘Antique’ is used for objects only, that are old but have a historic value.
Reuter’s News Agency. / Patel’s Newsagent’s. ‘A news agency’ is an international organisation that distributes news to different forms of the media. A newsagent’s is a typically British shop where you buy newspapers, cigarettes, sweets etc.
I missed the bus./ I lost the bus. In the first you didn’t arrive at the bus stop in time. In the second, you were the owner of the bus!
Little people live in the centre of London. / Few people live in the centre of London. Central London is inhabited by very short people. (Wrong!) / Most people reside in the areas out of Central London.
He came to the party wearing a three-piece suite. / He came to the party wearing a three-piece suit. It must have been a fancy dress party. A three-piece suite consists of a sofa and two armchairs. The suit is, of course, a jacket, waistcoat and trousers. ($ jacket, vest and pants. )