Word Usage Examples

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Clarification of ‘That’ and ‘Which’
That is used in what’s called restrictive clauses. Restrictive clauses are phrases that cannot be taken out without changing the meaning of a sentence. For example:

“Love that has no reality is no love at all.”

Take it away: Love is no love at all.” Doesn’t make sense.

“Cows that drink water are never thirsty.

Take it away: “Cows are never thirsty.” Really?

Which is employed in nonrestrictive clauses. Nonrestrictive clauses are phrases that can be removed without the sentence changing its meaning.  For instance:

“Bobby, which is another name for Robert, has been a commonplace alias for baseball players.”

Take it away: “Bobby has been a commonplace alias for baseball players.” Makes sense.

“Dinosaurs roamed the Mongolian grasslands, which were not fertile, terrorizing mammals.”

Take it away: “Dinosaurs roamed the Mongolian grasslands terrorizing mammals.” Crystal clear.

Clarification of 'Lay' or 'Lie'

We have to deal with present tense and future tense with these tough nuts. First, let’s get into present tense. Lay is used in the present tense for someone to lay something down (an object), and lie is used when someone lies down (no object to lay down except itself).

Examples of lay:

Betty said to her daughter Betsy, “Lay the gun down, or I will have to use my knife.”

Object: the gun.

“If you lay a turtle on a counter-top, it will fall off, helpless.”

Object: a turtle.

Examples of lie:

“Lie down, Benny, you know you are too sick to stand,” said Hebert.

Benny did it.

“All I could do was lie on a sofa and eat chips, I was so tired of reading.”

I did it.

Now, we can move to past tense. This may be confusing, but in the past tense, lie turns into lay. In addition, lay in the past transforms into laid.

Knowing that lie is now lay in past tense, we can say:

“Last Monday, Brian lay down on the floor.”

Brian did it all by himself.

“The dog lay in the marsh after it snowed yesterday.”

The dog did it.

And now, knowing that lay is laid in past tense, we can say:

“Last week, Peter laid the company memo on the manager’s desk.”

The memo must feel happy now.

“Helen laid her comb with severe force on the kitchen table.”

‘Ouch,’ says Ms. Comb.

Clarification of 'Who' and 'Whom'

Who is used when referring to a subject, and whom is used when referring to an object.

Examples of who:

“Who is that scary dude?” Who? The dude.

“Bilbert was the guy who got the job.” Who? Bilbert.

Examples of whom:

“The lizards, whom are all sick, walloped through the garden.” Pointing out the sickness and not the lizards themselves.

“Whom can we turn to in this hour of need?” Focusing on the act of turning instead of the subject, which is ‘the hour of need.’

Clarification of 'Then' and 'Than'

Than is all about comparing. Then has to do with time.

Examples of than:

“I would rather eat a peanut butter sandwich than fly out to the jungle without wings.”

Peanut butter sandwiches are better than most adventures.

“More than anything, I would love to run up a grass hill right now.”

I guess this person did not have too many other aspirations.

Examples of then:

“It was then that I realized that a giant ant was on my back.”

That must have been a scary moment.

“At first, there was only nine puppies, then there was 552 puppies.”

That then is fairly intense.

Clarification of 'Since' and 'Because'

Since usually refers to how much time has passedBecause is often used as a synonym for ‘due to’:

Examples of since:

Since I have been running the business for ten years, I might as well be a top executive of this company.”

Ten years.

“Ever since the day I set my brains on you, I have been intellectually indulged.”

The day.

Examples of because:

“You know I love you, because love doesn’t have a reason.”

Doesn’t have a reason.

“Because of my new found friendship, I’m going to buy mint chocolate chip ice cream.”

New found.

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