English is the most widely used language in the world. It is the dominant language or in some instances also the required international language of communications, science, information technology, business, seafaring, aviation, entertainment, radio, and diplomacy. A working knowledge of English has become a requirement in a number of fields, occupations and professions such as medicine and computing; as a consequence, more than a billion people speak English to at least a basic level. It is one of six official languages of the United Nations.
While only an estimated 12% of its diaspora speaks English, India, the second most populous country in the world has the second largest English speaking population after United States. Indiass emergence as a strong name to reckon with in the fields of Information Technology and Outsourcing businesses (across medical, legal, business processes) has been made possible only due to a large, English-speaking workforce.
English-speaking, as a skill, will increasingly become an eligibility criterion for the youth to enter the workforce and rise up the ranks as they develop managerial capabilities. Given the dilution of business boundaries, and increasing focus on India as a destination for setting up of Research & Development and Back Office support centres, the need for a workforce with English speaking skills (business communication) cannot be overstated. Further, as Indian companies spread their global footprint with acquisitions, the global managerial cadre with a team back home equipped with business communication skills will become a norm.
- The English language, as we now know it, began to emerge in the 14th century from a variety of dialects including Old Norse and Late West Saxon.
- Language, grammar and particularly spelling only really became standardised with the publication of Dr Johnson's Dictionary in 1755.
- The English language grows at a rate of about one new word every two hours.
- The past tense for the English word 'dare' is 'durst'.
- Word 'alphabet' comes from first two letters Greek alphabet - alpha and beta.
- A sentence which uses every letter of the alphabet is "The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog."
- 'Crutch words' are those words which we slip into sentences to give us more time to think or emphasize on some point. We start using them unconsciously but gradually they became part of our verbal tics. Few examples of these words are -actually, obviously, like, honestly, basically etc. Most of the times they don't add any value or meaning to a statement, for example, "I actually was absent that day."
- There is no rhyming word in the English language to any of following five words- month, silver, angel, orange or bulb.
- 'Phobophobia means the fear (phobia) of having any phobia. So the English language has got a word for phobia of phobias.
- Scolionophobia means to have fear of School. Hope you don't have it!
- Do you know a funny fact about the word 'listen'? It contains the same letters as the word 'silent'!
- Do you know about a 5 letter word in the English dictionary, which is pronounced in the same way even when the last four letters are removed from it? Oh, you guessed it right, it is 'queue'.
- Do you know there are a few words in the English language, which only exist in plural form? Here are a few -glasses, scissors, trousers, jeans, pants etc.
- Do you know that the adjective most often used to qualify the noun 'heart' is 'broken'.
- The word "uncopyrightable" is the longest English word in normal use that contains no letter more than once.
- The shortest complete sentence in English is the following. "I am."
- The only planet not named after a god is our own, Earth. The others are, in order from the Sun, Mercury, Venus, [Earth,] Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.
- A sentence that contains all 26 letters of the alphabet is called a "pangram".
- The only word in English that ends with the letters "-mt" is "dreamt" (which is a variant spelling of "dreamed") - as well of course as "undreamt"
- More English words begin with the letter "s" than with any other letter.
- The dot on top of the letter 'i' is called 'tittle'!
- The word "set" has more definitions than any other word in the English language.
- The verb "cleave" is the only English word with two synonyms which are antonyms of each other: adhere and separate.
- Shakespeare invented half the words he used: "Assassinate," "besmirch," "impartial," "worthless," "grovel," "mimic," "noiseless" - all these and more didn't exist before Shakespeare decided to lump them together for the sake of fitting his iambic pentameter. Shakespeare besmirched the dignity of our mother tongue.
- "The sixth sick Sheikh's sixth sheep's sick''is the toughest tongue twister in English.
- A hot potato: Speak of an issue (mostly current) which many people are talking about and which is usually disputed.
- Add insult to injury: To further a loss with mockery or indignity; to worsen an unfavourable situation.
- At the drop of a hat: Without any hesitation; instantly.
- Barking up the wrong tree: Looking in the wrong place. Accusing the wrong person.
- Bite off more than you can chew: To take on a task that is way too big.
- Blessing in disguise: Something good that isn't recognized at first.
- Cry over spilt milk: When you complain about a loss from the past.
- Curiosity killed the cat: Being inquisitive can lead you into an unpleasant situation.
- Devil's Advocate: To present a counter argument.
- Desperate times call for desperate measures: When you are extremely desperate you need to take drastic actions.
- Don't judge a book by its cover: Do not judge something primarily on appearance.
- Don't count your chickens before the eggs have hatched: Don't make plans for something that might not happen.
- Every cloud has a silver lining: Be optimistic, even difficult times will lead to better days.
- Hit the sack / sheets / hay: To go to bed.
- Hit the nail on the head: Do or say something exactly right.
- In the heat of the moment: Overwhelmed by what is happening in the moment.
- Kill two birds with one stone: To accomplish two different things at the same time.
- Last straw: The final problem in a series of problems.
- Let the cat out of the bag: To share information that was previously concealed.
- Cut a long story short: Come to the point - leave out details.
- Not a spark of decency: No manners
- Once in a blue moon: Happens very rarely.
- Picture paints a thousand words: A visual presentation is far more descriptive than words.
- Piece of cake: A job, task or other activity that is easy or simple.
- See eye to eye: Where two (or more people) agree on something.
- Sit on the fence: When someone does not want to choose or make a decision.
- Speak of the devil!: This expression is used when the person you have just been talking about arrives.
- Take with a grain/pinch of salt: This means not to take what someone says too seriously.
- To hear something straight from the horse's mouth: To hear something from the authoritative source.
- Your guess is as good as mine: To have no idea, do not know the answer to a question.
- The pen is mightier than the sword: Trying to convince people with ideas and words is more effective than trying to force people to do what you want.
- No man is an island: You can't live completely independently. Everyone needs help from other people.
- Fortune favours the brave: People who bravely go after what they want are more successful than people who try to live safely.
- Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst: Be ready for all types of misfortune.
- Birds of a feather flock together: People like to spend time with others who are similar to them.
- There's no such thing as a free lunch: Things that are offered for free always have a hidden cost.
- God helps those who help themselves: Don't just wait for good things to happen to you. Work hard to achieve your goals.
- Cleanliness is next to godliness: Be clean.
- A gentleman is a patient wolf: A gentleman is a man smart enough to know that fighting solves nothing, yet cruel enough to know that once fighting starts the offender must be dealt with, with the harshest of blows.
- A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory: Those who have a clear conscience obviously do not remember the various indiscretions in their life. In other words, they are deceiving themselves to think they have nothing to feel guilty about.
- When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane: If everything negative is coming at the person at once, then they are doing something wrong or moving in the wrong direction.
- A man is as old as he feels himself to be: Your age doesn't matter as long as you are fit and healthy.
- If you're too open minded, your brains will fall out: If you express yourself too openly to others than you may suffer indirectly.
- Many complain of their looks, but none of their brains: People are more concerned about outer appearance over their inner intelligence.
- It is easier to fight for principles than to live up to them: It is difficult to stand by what one preaches.
- A good example is the best sermon: Setting a good example is better than giving advice.
- Beauty is only skin deep: A person's character is more important than his or her appearance.
- Bad news travels fast: People tend to circulate bad news very quickly.
- Better lose the saddle than the horse: It's better to stop and accept a small loss than continue and risk losing everything.
- Be swift to hear, slow to speak: Listen carefully before speaking.
- Many hands make light work: Sharing work makes the task easier.
- Dead men tell no lies: A dead person cannot cause difficulties by revealing something that it would be preferable to conceal.
- Spare the rod and spoil the child: If you don't punish a child when he does wrong, you will spoil his character.
- A stitch in time saves nine: It's better to deal with a problem at an early stage so as to prevent it from getting worse.
- Every rose has its thorn: Every good thing has an unpleasant side.
- Still waters run deep: A quiet person with a calm outward appearance can have much knowledge or wisdom.
- Look before you leap: Consider possible consequences before taking action.
- Love is blind: A person in love does not see the faults of the person he/she loves.
- Liars need good memories: People who do not tell the truth must be careful to remember what they say.
- The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it
In British English, some words from French, Latin or Greek end with a consonant followed by -re, with the -re unstressed. In American English, most of these words have the ending -er.
British English uses more contractions as compared to American English.
- British: I've got two sisters.
- American: I have two sisters.
Some words are shorter in American English than in British English.
- American: catalog, program
- British: catalogue, programme
Some words that end in '-our' in British English end in '-or' in American English.
- American: colour, labour
- British: colour, labour
Americans use the present perfect tense less than speakers of British English and a British teacher might mark wrong some things that an American teacher would say are correct.
- American: Did you do your homework yet?
- British: Have you done your homework yet?
- American: I already ate.
- British: I've already eaten
There are a lot of examples of different words being used in British and American English. Here are a few of the commonest.
|boot (of a car)||trunk|
Following tables contain a list of words in which British and American spellings differ.
|-ize or -ise||-yse|
|Apologize or Apologise||Apologize||Analyse||Analyze|
|Organize or Organise||Organize||Breathalyse||Breathalyze|
|Recognize or Recognise||Recognize||Paralyse||Paralyze|
|Theatre||Theater Or Theatre||Labour||Labor|
| || ||Neighbour||Neighbor|
|Words ending in a vowel plus l||Words spelled with double vowels|
|Fuel||Fuel|| || |
|Fuelled||Fueled|| || |
|Fuelling||Fueling|| || |