Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Is that priceless or worthless? Confusing words part 2

Two pictures of priceless objects, and two of worthless objects - but which is which?  This is one of those cases where the English language can seem totally illogical.  You would expect priceless and worthless to be synonyms, but in fact they're opposites.

Here's why:

The suffix -less means not having ______

  • A useless thing is something that doesn't have a use.
  • A homeless person is someone who doesn't have a home.
  • Something worthless does not have worth - in more natural English, it isn't worth anything.

So in our picture, the bags of rubbish, the broken umbrella, and the dead fish are all worthless.

Something that is worth a lot of money is very valuable, so you would expect to pay a high price for it.  But for something completely unique, like the vases in the top-left picture, or the helmet in the bottom-right, are even more valuable than that.  In fact, they are priceless - they are so valuable that they do not have a price.  A synonym for priceless is invaluable, which means that something isn't possible to value, or decide the price of in money.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Improving your Reading skills in English

A lot of students ask me how they can improve their reading skills.  They typically say that they read a lot, but it's very slow, and they just don't seem to get better at it.  Most of these students always read in the same way in English - slowly, and with a dictionary in the other hand for the words they don't know.  This is actually quite bad for your reading skills, but more on that later...

What I tell these students is that they need to practise reading in different ways, to get better at different reading skills.  In particular, they need to practise Fast Reading and Slow Reading techniques.