Too much vs much too


As a quantifier, ‘too much’ means ‘an excess of’ needing a noun group; it simply denotes overfull, and will only quantify volumes (i.e. too much coffee, too much rain) whereas ‘much too’ is a secondary modifier, of an adjective or adverb and it means strong by a large margin; it can modify the whole phrase too strong (i.e. much too fast, much too heavy). Too much modifies a noun, a verb, or an adverb, and much too modifies an adjective or an adverb.

Too much = great in quantity, measure, or degree; an intolerable, impossible, or exhausting situation or experience. We use too much if the quantity becomes too big, much is preceded by too: ‘too much cake’, ‘the suffering was too much for her’, the defeat proved a little bit too much for us’.


Example sentences of too much

That’s too much.

She talks too much. 

They haven’t got too much time.

The country’s junta leader has too much power.

There’s far too much sugar in my coffee. 

When the pressure got too much, they had to bow out and quit.

She has been assigned too much homework.

There is too much chemical waste in the river.


Be careful!

Don’t say too much hot or too much full. Instead say, much too hot or much too full.


Much too = describes an excessive quantity; much too is less frequent and its construction is made with an adjective; MUCH TOO + ADJECTIVE: ‘The chicken curry was much too salty’; ‘the interview was much too tough for most of the students’; this suitcase is much too heavy, you can’t carry it! (much has the function of ‘increasing’; denotes the suitcase far too heavy).


Example sentences of much too

You are much too late.

She was driving much too fast.

Our opponents are much too powerful.

The place was much too cold.

The price is much too high for us.

The trunk is much too big for that little porter.

You are flying much too high, Daniel, we must need oxygen.

This house is much too expensive for us to buy.


Notice that in sentences like these we place much in front of too, not after it. For example:

The place was too much cold.    X

The place was much too cold.   


Much too much = a far larger amount of something than you want or need: You’ve drunk much too much to drive’; ‘I’ve much too much to do’.


Notice that ‘much too much’ has also a ‘funny’ expression describing a real excess or exaggeration:

She’s talked much too much today… she’d better start learning to be silent!


More example sentences of too much

Is it too much to ask to have a seat beside her?

They have too much to deal with right now.

There’s been too much rain and the lakes are overflowing their banks.

Sarcasm was obviously too much for her as she closed the door briskly after her.

The lesson was maybe a little bit too much for them, but how else do you learn?’

He needs to have his eyesight tested because he watches too much TV.

Since she’s been working too much, her condition is deteriorating.

He drank too much wine at the party and collapsed outside the club.

Much as Emma likes stirring up a bit of a buzz, there are times when it can be too much even for her.

Emma’s got exams next week and she has just started her new Yoga classes, so she’s already got too much on her plate.

More example sentences of much too

She doesn’t want to go to the movies tonight because she’s much too tired.

Liam said that the novel was boring and it was much too lengthy.

I think our new English teacher speaks much too quickly.

The car is moving much too slowly; I think there’s some problem.

Though she’s working much too hard, she’s not letting the boss take advantage of her.

The same…as vs the same…that

When we talk about comparisons, we normally use the expressions ‘the same…as’ and ‘the same…that’. Both expressions mean almost the same – very alike in appearance, behaviour, traits, characteristics, etc., as someone or something else. If something is happening the same as something else, the two things are happening in a way that is similar or exactly the same: ‘The movie was released in the same year as The Dark Knight was released’ and ‘the movie was released in the same year that The Dark Knight was released.’ Both sentences with the constructions ‘the same…as’ and ‘the same…that’ are acceptable. However, the construction ‘the same… as’ is considered more common than the one with ‘the same… that’.
R. W. Burchfield states in his book ‘Fowler’s Modern English Usage’ that when used as an attributive adjective same is usually construed with as. Having said that, in some situations, we use ‘that’ after ‘the same’.
We are here trying to differentiate between the two in the following sentences:
The dagger used in the murder was the same that had been used before.
The dagger used in the murder was the same as the one used before.
According to first sentence, a dagger was used twice, while in second sentence, a different dagger was used each time but they looked the same.
Various types of constructions with ‘the same… as’
She entered the ‘Game of Thrones’ at the same age as Sophie Turner had entered six years earlier. (‘as’ followed by introducing a clause)
Other evidences point in the same direction as the first evidence of the case. (‘as’ followed by a noun or noun phrase)
He gave me the same stern look as before.  (‘as’ followed by an adverb)
When we use the same with a noun, we can follow it by a clause with that, and less commonly with who or which. We can often leave out that, who or which: He’s the same person (that) I spoke to when I applied for my visa.
Be careful!
Use as after a linking verb and NOT that:
This sweater is the same colour as that one.    
This sweater is the same colour that that one.   X
Example sentences of the same…as
Her idea is the same as his.
He’s the same age as his mother-in-law.
She has the same jacket as you have.
Eggs cost the same in retail as they do in wholesale.
Your sister’s wedding is the same as everyone else’s!
She looks exactly the same as she did fifteen years ago.
My neighbour has the same car as my uncle.
He was born on the same day as his brother.
My wife gets the same pay as me but she gets her own car.
I think that Emma’s frock is the same as Amelia’s one.
This tie is the same as the one you bought me on my birthday.
These shoes are the same as the ones I wanted to buy last month.

More example sentences of the same…as
The US just wanted the war to end, the same as other countries did.
Is it the same as going back to school?
He was wearing exactly the same T-shirt as I was.
She wants her relationship to stay the same as the day she met.
The officer again asked him about the murder, and he gave the same answer as before.
It’s the same as calling your friends at your place and having dinner with them.
Doing a job perfectly is not the same as spending a lot of time on it.
The harvest of green mussels this year is going to be the same as it has been previously.
So she put her hair up in the same ponytail as yesterday and casually put on any clothes.
The house is constructed in much the same (=almost the same) way as it was 100 years ago.
Example sentences of the same…that
Your shirt is the same as that one.
Losing your hair isn’t the same as going bald.
It’s the same novel (that) I read when I was at college.
She put on the same dress that she had worn at her sister’s wedding.
The one who fixed the tap is the same person that did it a week ago.
This hotel is the same hotel that was used last year for the meeting.
More example sentences of the same…that
Is this a different airplane or the same airplane that is believed to have crashed in Cross Lake?
The man we met yesterday in the market is the same man that we saw at the mall.
These combat trousers are the same that Mother bought you on your last birthday.
The same ideas that Plato put forward 2500 years ago still influence some modern thinking.
She ran the same distance that Emma did, but her time was 5 minutes less than her.

Still vs. Yet


We use still and Yet as adverbs to talk about things that have (or haven’t) happened over time. Though their meanings and uses are obvious, there are many situations in which they are used interchangeably to convey a similar idea: She says she doesn’t like her boss, still/ yet she won’t stop working for him. 

Now, let’s talk about the uses of these two words separately.
Still: we use still as an adverb to refer to an action or a condition which began previously and is continuing until now: ‘They have been married for 20 years and they are still very much in love’, ‘We’re still waiting for our new building site plan to be approved’.

We usually place still between the subject and the main verb, or after the modal verb or first auxiliary verb, or after be as a main verb:

Amelia still goes to zumba classes every Saturday. (between subject and main verb)

She’s still learning French. (after the modal verb or first auxiliary verb)

They’re still complaining. (after main verb be)


We stress still and place it before the auxiliary or modal verb, when we want to show that the continuing situation is not considered necessary, especially when it is used in a negative clause:

She moved into a new house one month ago and still hasn’t got the occupancy certificate. (still is stressed)

He still can’t find his car keys. (still is stressed – he’s been looking for it for a long time)

We offered $10,000 for that old car but they still wanted more. (still is stressed for something that is true in spite of other things)

I am not very good at dancing. Still, I had gone for it or they’d have been offended. (still in front position to mean ‘on the other hand’ or ‘nevertheless’)

Yet: we use yet as an adverb to represent an action which is supposed to be started until now, but it fails to occur or start by the given time frame: ‘The project has not been completed yet’, ‘Where are you going for the vacation?’ ‘I don’t know yet.’


Convergence of Still and yet

We use yet and still in negative statements to express something that wasn’t true in the past and is even not true in the present. That is where ‘stilland ‘yet converge. For example: in ‘Isabella still hasn’t signed up for online classes’ and ‘Isabella hasn’t signed up for online classes yet’; ‘Children still haven’t finished their lunch’ and ‘Children haven’t finished their lunch yet’ – each pair of these sentences, one with yet and one with still, means almost the same thing. However, in most cases, still comes with a sense of impatience that doesn’t happen with yet.


Be careful!

We use still not yet to refer to the continuation of a situation:

She is still in touch with her old flame.    (she continues to be in touch with her old flame)            

She is yet in touch with her old flame.               

In some societies, the dowry still prevails among the middle classes.        

In some societies, the dowry yet prevails among the middle classes.        


Example sentences of still

Grandfather still lives in that dilapidated old house. (he was living in that house in the past, and he continues to live there)

It’s still raining!
It was still dark outside.

Do you still want to go over there?

She still lives with her ex-husband. 

Do you still have her phone number? 

She is still not ready for the party.

I can still remember that rainy night.

still can’t remember his name.

I still do not know exactly what happened that evening.


More example sentences of still

Liam is still busy. 

It is still raining.

The boss is still in the office.

If she still wants to join us, she can.

Is your younger brother still at school?

I still don’t know what you’re talking about. 

The train hasn’t left yet. It is still there.

He still hasn’t found a buyer for his house.

still haven’t found my car keys. I know it’s here somewhere. 


Example sentences of yet

Have you got the transfer letter yet? (refers to a time which starts in the past and continues up to the present)

Despite putting enough time and energy into this project, they haven’t finished it yet.

Emma hasn’t enrolled for the modern art course yet.      (in negative statements, an event is expected to happen in the future)

I haven’t seen ‘Jungle Cruise’ yet. 

Are they home yet? (in affirmative, it shows that the speaker is expecting something to happen)

Has your parcel arrived yet? 

Haven’t children arrived from school yet? (Negative questions can express a stronger expectation of something)


More example sentences of yet

It isn’t raining yet.

Haven’t you done your household chores yet? 

She’s got a lot more work to do yet. 

Have you completed your homework yet?

‘Is breakfast ready?’ ‘No, not yet.’

Supposed to vs. expected to


Be supposed to meaning ‘to be expected to or ‘to be required to is a common phrase that functions the same way as a modal verb does. The modal verbs also known as auxiliary or helping verbs express ability, possibility, permission, or obligation: ‘I have to be home before midnight or my father will be mad at me’; ‘I’m supposed to be home before midnight or my father will be mad at me’.


Be expected to means ‘(someone/ something) be required to fulfil an obligation’. So, be expected to and be supposed to are the same in meaning but be expected to specifically involves another person or people who were expecting us to do it: ‘She is expected to tidy her own room’; ‘you are expected to return the money by Friday’.

Example sentences of be supposed to

Was the train supposed to be here so early?

She is supposed to arrive tomorrow.

It is Sunday evening; they are supposed to turn in early.

The magician is supposed to saw a woman in half.

She is supposed to be the best professor in university.

The word is supposed to be derived from Arabic.

He’s supposed to be meeting her at the court.


We also use ‘be supposed toto express what a person (or thing) is likely to do or is reputed to do: ‘It was supposed to rain tonight’; ‘he is supposed to be the best architect in town’.


Be careful!

Suppose (without the d) should only be used as the present tense of the verb meaning to assume (something to be true).


More example sentences of be supposed to

Children are supposed to be quiet in class.            (required or expected but maybe not always done)

You are supposed to be at work today.                  (but you aren’t because you feel sick)

You are supposed to listen to your teachers.

The maid is supposed to mop up the spilt milk before she goes home.

What am I supposed to do in a situation like this?’ ‘Do what you’re supposed to.’


Was/ were supposed to…implies that you did not do what you were supposed to do: ‘you were supposed to be at the airport by 7’. (but you didn’t and so you missed the flight); You were supposed to go walking to the library.  (but you rode bicycle)


She was supposed to be here yesterday.

She was supposed to wash the dishes last night.

The party was supposed to be a surprise.

We were not supposed to leave the office unattended.

The movie was supposed to win a round of applause at the International forum, but it didn’t.


Example sentences of be expected to

Employers are expected to pay reasonable wages to workers.

If they don’t have the right to vote, why then, should they be expected to abide by rules?

As a citizen of this country, you are expected to pay your taxes on time.

We are expected to pay by a certain date even though the development will not be completed.

You are not expected to know everything, but let them assume you are willing to learn.


More example sentences of be expected to

Governments cannot be expected to provide with facilities unless people pay their taxes.

Now I am expected to pay the arrears I owe them through their inept management of resources.

He soon realised he was expected to be a role model, mentor and support the country.

In these times of pandemic, employers are expected to allow their workers to work from home.

The bottom line is that you are expected to have some sense of what you want to do in terms of career goals.


Was/ were expected to also broadly denotes that you did not do what you were expected to do: ‘you were expected to be at the airport by 7’. (but you didn’t as the plans changed)

 She was expected to pay her bills, but had no money to do so.

When her parents died, she was expected to take up the role of a parent and care for younger siblings.

Could vs. was/were able to vs. managed to


We use ‘could’, ‘was/were able to and ‘manage to’ (the past form) to talk about ability in the past: ‘she could finish the exam faster than anyone else’; ‘he wasn’t able to answer the police officer’s queries’; ‘he managed to finish the work on time’, etc. We use was/were able to (= had the ability to) and managed to (= succeeded in doing something difficult) when we talk about achieving something on a specific occasion in the past. In contrast, we usually don’t use could when we’re talking about ability at a specific moment in the past.

He was able to push his way through the crowd to reach the dais.             

He managed to push his way through the crowd to reach the dais.            

He could push his way through the crowd to reach the dais.                      


Could = We usually use could or couldn’t to talk about general abilities in the past: ‘She could speak Japanese before she started school’; he couldn’t drive until he was thirty’; ‘when I lived next to the Nitehawk, I could go to cinema every day’.

Example sentences of could

He couldn’t touch the ceiling. It’s too high.

lot of them couldn’t survive.

Isabella couldn’t finish her project last night.

I’m sure Liam could find out for you.

There’s no way you could reach the station by yourself.

Nobody could tell my clothes were dirty.

When he was young, he could easily get through this window.

Be careful!

Don’t use could to talk about single events that happened in the past.

could buy a wonderful watch on his birthday.           

was able to/managed to buy a wonderful watch on his birthday. (right)

She could surprise Father yesterday.                         

She was able to surprise Father yesterday.                

However, with verbs of the senses (touch, seesmelltastehear, etc.) and mental processes (believethinkunderstand, remember, etc.), we can use could:

The food served last night was awful. I could taste nothing but salt.

The officer came and asked for my identity, but I couldn’t see his name tag.


Notice that we also use could to talk about ability in the present, but in different context. If we say that someone could do something, we mean that they have the ability to do it, but they don’t necessarily do it: the governments could do much more to tackle the pandemic.
More example sentences of could

All that one could do at this point is stay back home and pray for others.

He couldn’t handle the situation all by himself, and called others to help him out.

Several make-shift hospitals were built so that the injured could get treatment.

Grandmother was stunned by the sheer volume of sound that two high volume speakers could make.

My brother and I wanted to sign up for the class so that we could take it together for sharing family car.

We could see nothing except for the dust as the truck disappeared just as quickly.


Was/were able to = When we talk about past ability, we use ‘could’ or ‘was/were able to’ to tell an ability that existed in the past for a long time, but no longer exists now: ‘when she was ten, she was able to speak French fluently’.

Example sentences of was/were able to

Only one person was able to clear the interview.

After several weeks in hospital, she was able to return to work.

The company was able to pay their employees’ wages after lockdown.

Williams would never be able to afford such a big house.

The vacation was relaxing and she was able to read a lot.

The police weren’t able to catch the speeding truck.


More example sentences of was/were able to

We were able to/managed to drive 800 miles in that old car in just a couple of days.

When the government adds in council tax and other bills, we wouldn’t be able to afford that.

 The year 2020 has really been a hard year and we would have never been able to afford to pay for it.

People who have been displaced are worried they might not be able to afford to return to their homeland.

I hope you will be able to take a few moments to read the manual and follow the instructions.

It is unclear yet if any of the athletes will be able to compete at the international level.

It seems just wonderful to be able to write anything you want and post it on the internet.

Liam has just started to be able to walk but will never have full mobility again.


Manage to = When we talk about doing something difficult, especially after trying hard, we use  ‘manage to’: ‘managed to get a travel pass’; ‘managed to see the President’;  ‘managed to get into that crowded tram’.

Example sentences of manage to 

How did you manage to persuade him?

Did you manage to get any drinks?

Atlanta United managed one goal in the last ten minutes. 

only just managed to arrive at the airport on time.

The patrolling squad had somehow managed to survive the terror attack.

Be Careful!
Use a to-infinitive, not an –ing form, after manage. ‘How did you manage persuading him?  ( )  

In written English, we often use ‘succeed in doing something’ rather than ‘manage to do something’ because it sounds more formal: ‘At a time of pandemic, Prime Minister succeeded in restoring hope’.

More example sentences of manage to 

The prisoners managed to escape from jail.

The burglar managed to break into our office downtown and stole cash.

They had been working on it for weeks but they didn’t manage to finish it on time.

They managed to get a really good price on the bungalow.

I managed to persuade Liam to volunteer for community service.

She studied for months but didn’t manage to pass the exam.

Able vs. Capable


The word able means ‘having the ability to perform a given task.’ Usually, we use the adjective ‘able’ with infinitive ‘to’ to mean having the power, skill, means, or opportunity to do something: ‘he’s an able mechanic’; ‘she was able to swim at the age of six’; ‘he would never be able to afford such a luxury car.’

The word capable means ‘having adequate capacity to do or to make’ or ‘having adequate capacity to receive an action’: ‘a highly capable man’; ‘the child looked eager and capable’; ‘do you think Liam is capable of lifting 100 pounds?’

The major difference between able and capable is ‘able’ has a broader meaning in one’s ability; while ‘capable’ shows one’s ability in a more specialized aspect. Secondly, generally we use ‘able’ to describe current things someone can do, while we use ‘capable’ to talk about their future potential. However, this difference is not a strict rule; it’s just a general trend.

This technology has the ability to enhance daily living from appliances to mobile devices and computers. (it can currently do this)

This technology has the capability to end world diseases. (it has the possibility of doing this in the future)

Example sentences of able

He was able to break free and punch one of the robbers.

He’s able to sing this song perfectly after hearing it only once.

She wondered if they would be able to qualify for World Test Championship.

In these times of pandemic, we know we wouldn’t be able to afford such taxes.

On my vacation, I was able to read a lot that will help me at work.

They will be able to travel on one of the company’s several ships.

William has just started to be able to walk but will never have full mobility again.

It is not known if any of the athletes will be able to compete at the international level.

Hot Dog was able to hear Jughead through the speaker on the phone.

More example sentences of able

I hope you will be able to take a few moments to introspect as to what you want out of life.

He may not have been able to afford to live in such magnificent houses but he befriended the people who could.

She has been learning the martial art since she was eight and now is able to break a concrete block with her bare hands.

But this year, they won’t be able to go door-to-door to register voters due to social distancing guidelines.

This year had been a really hard year and I would have never been able to afford to pay for it.

It has been ages since I saw this movie on TV and have yet to be able to find it in a video store.

Example sentences of capable

You can leave the team’s fortunes in the capable hands of Timothy Green.

All credit to Warrington, they played well and they are a very capable team.

Although he was technically quite capable, the job became more difficult for him.

He was a very capable mechanic and able to fix any new car that comes into the shop.

Teams of highly trained and capable engineers were recruited by the IT department.

He proved a capable administrator and had no hesitation in taking the tough decisions.

The movie is in the capable directorial hands of George Lucas and also stars Carrie Fisher.

The maid is extremely capable and cooks, cleans and does all household chores.

More example sentences of capable

The Chief Justice, a very nice and capable young man, agreed that the whole story was made up.

He was in fact a highly capable teacher and so was well able to achieve celebrity status.

She feels better and more capable, and more attractive now than she has ever felt in life.

This team of doctors is definitely capable but we will have to wait and see what happens.

All in all, he proved a capable administrator, handling all day to day affairs with aplomb.

Notice that the opposite of able is unable, and the opposite of capable is incapable.
Capable of doing something: Having the ability, fitness, or quality necessary to do or achieve a specified thing.

She’s capable of becoming a successful actor.

She’s quite capable of taking care of the children.

The car is capable of running 500 miles non-stop.

Some players are failing to achieve the results of which they are capable.

They’ve proved capable in the past of coming from behind and they’ve handled the heat.

Manchester United finally showed how capable they were of springing from defence into attack.

They all felt they were a good side but not in their wildest dreams did they think they were capable of winning the match.

What is good is that Brazil now strive not just to win but to play the game of which they know themselves capable.

Notice that when you use a past tense, you mean that someone has actually done something: They were able to cut costs without cutting staff.

Sure vs. Surely


Sure means to be confident that you know something or that something is true or correct. Sure is an adjective and it modifies nouns or pronouns. Surely means to express a degree of certainty. Surely is an adverb and it modifies verbs, adjectives, or adverbs: It is a sure thing, it is surely humid inside. In the first sentence, ‘thing’ is a noun and an adjective ‘sure’ modifies it. In second sentence, ‘humid’ is an adjective and an adverb ‘surely’ modifies it.

The word sure means that you are certain; without any doubt or it is an affirmation.


Example sentences of sure

That’s Jessica’s ex-husband.’ ‘Are you sure?’

‘What time does the movie start?’ ‘I’m not sure.’

Are you sure that you know how to solve this tricky math problem?

My brother, I felt sure, had not met her before.

I’m not sure if I’ll be reaching the airport in time.

He wasn’t even sure of his car’s plate number. 

‘That’s the car that met with an accident last night.’ ‘Are you quite sure about that?

In writing, we often prefer to use certain rather than sure, because it sounds more formal.


 More example sentences of sure

‘What’s wrong with her?’ ‘I’m not really sure.

I’m sure (that) I left my wallet on the cab.

I’m not 100 percent sure how to tell her husband’s death.

I feel absolutely sure (that) Jessica has made the right decision about her career.

It now seems sure (that) the election rallies have resulted in the spread of the disease.

Amelia isn’t sure whether/if she’ll be able to come to the party or not.

We arrived at the station early to be sure of getting a good seat.

There is only one sure way of finding out the truth.

She is sure to do well on the concert.

They are sure that their dog was stolen from their house.

May I borrow your lawn mower? Sure!


Also notice that when ‘sure’ is used as an adverb, it has the same meaning as ‘surely.’ However, we can only use it in informal situations: This pudding sure is good!


When we use surely, we are hoping that the listener will agree with us.


Example sentences of surely

Emma will surely attend the wedding despite all differences with Jack.  (I want you to agree with me that Emma will attend the wedding)

Surely you will be fined if you go out without wearing mask. (I want you to agree with me that it is against the advisory of government)

The Prime Minister will surely be able to assure the House of that incident.

Were that true, ground operations should surely be averted to avoid a full-fledged war.

Her tremendous form must surely have surprised even his biggest critics.


 More example sentences of surely

It’s surely quicker if you have a bike.

It will surely be cloudy today.

Surely, you are capable of getting rid of this problem. (This is not difficult to do so)

 If that is not the case, then digging into his past is surely detectives’ job.

If Father has not made any will, then surely the house goes automatically to all siblings equally.

We also use surely, especially in negative question forms, to show surprise:

Surely she’s not going to resign after her breakup with her employer. (I am surprised that she’s going to resign after break up with her employer)

Surely you won’t be interested in a job like that? (I am surprised that you will be interested in a job like that)

Until vs. Till vs. By


Many people wrongly believe that till is an abbreviation of until and say it should not be used. Traditionally, till is the older and original form, coming from Old Norse til into northern Old English. The form until is a later compound of Old Norse und (meaning as far as) + till, and originated in northern Middle English:

She’ll be in the store until 9 pm. She’ll be in the store till 9 pm.

Is second sentence is wrong? No, until and till are both real and correct words and mean the same thing. They denote how long something will happen or when it will start or end. Actually, till is the older of the two words and you can still use till in formal writing without being wrong: The neighbours quarrelled from noon till night. (sometimes the single syllable of till is better for the rhythm of your sentence than the two syllables of until; here, till is informal, even spoken English)

Until denotes when something will happen, begin, or end: she has to work in the store until 9 pm; you have to hand in the report any day until Saturday; the market is open until 8 pm.


Notice that till is not a contraction of until — it’s actually older than until — hence, it should not be written with an apostrophe. ’Til shows up every so often, but many major usage dictionaries and style guides regard it an error, so it’s best to avoid it.


In contrast, as a preposition of time, by denotes ‘before or not later than a particular time’; by 11:30 am; arrive by Monday; I’ll be done by twelve o’clock.

Let’s take a look at how and when we should use each of these prepositions:


I’ve got to do this report until Thursday. (begin to do this report now, continue to do it until Thursday, then stop doing it regardless of whether it is finished or not)


I’ve got to do this report by Thursday. (make sure that on Thursday the report is done)


We can finish this project until Monday. (Now do this project on Monday: we’ll stop even if we haven’t finished)

We can finish this project by Monday. (Now do this project and finish it on Monday (it will be finished)

The train can’t leave until 5 am. (it is impossible for train to leave before 5 am)

The train must leave by 5 am. (train needs to leave any time before 5 am. If it leaves after 5 am, then there will be some sort of problem or trouble)

Therefore, until refers to all the time between now and the end of something while by only refers to the deadline.


Use until when you refer to the period of time before a deadline.
Use by when you refer to a deadline.


More example sentences of until

I’ll look after the children until you come back. (as conjunction)

They have to wait until the train arrives.

Mother won’t start cooking until she comes home. (a negative construction (with not) in the main clause)

She can’t mend the clothes until the sewing machine is fixed.

She can’t mend the clothes until the sewing machine has been fixed. (also have + past participle and had + past participle)

She didn’t serve the dessert until we had finished eating.

They’ll wait until Tuesday. (as preposition)

She’ll be at the airport until seven o’clock.

She partied with her friends until it got dark.

We’re not allowed to go out until we finish our dinner. (or until we have finished our dinner)

We didn’t know he was a foreigner until he spoke.

We travelled together until Boston.

He was coughing and stayed awake until midnight.


Notice that with until we usually use the words can, will, or any present tense verbs.


More example sentences of by

The project needs to be ready by next week. (before or not later than a particular time; Indicating a deadline or the end of a particular time period)

By the end of this month the organisers had sold all tickets. 

By the time she got home she was tired.

I’ll be home by 11, I promise.

By 8.00, most of the guests had gone.

Please try to have this project done by Sunday.

You had promised to be back by seven o’clock.

The documents must be in by the 15th to be accepted.

By the time I got to the airport the entry had already been barred.


Notice that we usually use the words have/had, need, or must when we use by.


Consist of, comprise, be composed of, constitute, make up/be made up of, include


The expressions such as consist (of), comprise (be comprised of), composed of, constitute, make up (be made up of), include, etc. describe the relationship of parts to the whole, or whole to parts. We sometimes use them interchangeably but not in all cases. Let’s look at the usages of each word, with attention to active and passive voices.


Consist of = When we want to talk about the whole and then all of its parts, we commonly use consist of: ‘North America consists of three countries: the USA, Canada, and Mexico’, ‘the club consists of members from all across the world’, ‘the crew consists of twenty men’, ‘the class consists of students from all over the world’, the trip of UN Secretary-General consists of several countries in Asia’, etc.

More example sentences of consist of

She got the termination letter which largely consisted of several allegations.

The proposed overbridge will consist of several overpasses and underpasses.

These evidences consisted not of videos, as you say, but of several audio clips, too.

The exhibition consists of a wide range of products aimed at the defence industry.

The magazine includes a section at the back consisting of a telephone directory.

The menu usually consisted of two or three dishes which were served in the earthen pot.

The ICU health care team consists of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, dieticians and other professionals.

Note that ‘consist of’ is more informal than ‘comprise’.
Be aware! Never use ‘consist of’ in the passive, so don’t say something is consisted of something.

The Group of Seven consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.                                        

The Group of Seven is consisted of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.                  


Comprise = Consist of; be made up of. The verb ‘comprise’ has an edge over the verb ‘consist of,’ if you stick to the sense that the whole comprises the parts, and use the active rather than the passive: ‘The newly formed committee will comprise seven members’, ‘the trust comprises four trustees including one chairman’, ‘the studio spans several city blocks, comprising seventeen buildings’, etc.

More example sentences of comprise

The collection comprises 51 classic movies.

The team comprises mostly players from the Commonwealth nations.

Consumer spending by state government now comprises 70% of GDP.

The audience comprising former players, bureaucrats and senior citizens were an enthusiastic lot.

Ad-supported cable programs now comprise more than 80 percent of all U.S. television households.

The accommodation provided by the company comprises two bedrooms, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and rear garden.

Note that sometimes we use comprise in the passive with of, though debatable:

The whole + is comprised of + all its parts (passive)

The course is comprised of fifteen core modules.

The committee is comprised of well-known historians.

The class is comprised mainly of Mexican and Canadian students.

Note that this passive use has been on the rise, may be due to its similarity to ‘be composed of’. However, it is somewhat controversial and not liked by most traditional grammarians.
Be aware!  Like ‘consist of’, ‘comprise’ is not followed by of unless it is used in the passive: ‘the band consists of two guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer’ and NOT ‘the band comprises of two guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer’.

The University comprises of several Departments.              

The University comprises several Departments.                  

Be composed of = The things that something is composed of are its parts or members. The separate things that compose something are the parts or members that form it: ‘the cake is composed of flour and eggs’, ‘a council composed of leaders of the rival factions’,  ‘this vanity table should be composed of three parts’, etc.
Note that there’s no difference in meaning between ‘consist of‘ and ‘be composed of‘; we use both to describe what something is formed or made of.
More example sentences of be composed of

This force would be composed of troops from NATO members.

All matter is found to be composed of atoms and molecules.

The current Roberts Court is supposed to be composed of more democrats.

It has been found that tears to be composed of negatively charged ions.

His idea was a smaller army to be composed of better-trained and better-equipped soldiers.

The committee will be composed of the permanent representatives of the participating States.

The newly-formed force would be composed of all combat types, including two or three carriers, transports and train vessels.

A PowerPoint Presentation can be composed of audio, video, images, text, and other media types.


Constitute = Be (a part) of a whole; combine to form (a whole): ‘women constitute the majority of the workforce’, here’s a collection of old photographs that constitutes the ‘family album, etc.

More example sentences of constitute

There were enough allegations to constitute a lawsuit.

The Barony of Erris constitutes such a large part of Mayo.

Muslims in Burma constitute at least 4 per cent of the country’s entire population.

This termination of contract, from the legal point of view, constitutes a breach of contract.

The pedestrians in the city constitute the highest number of victims of road accidents.

These so-called elite groups constituted a very small proportion of the total population.

This combined migratory population constituted more than 21.8 percent of Lebanon’s population.

The data presented by the WHO constitute only a very modest beginning toward meeting the challenge.


Make up = (of parts) compose or constitute a whole: ‘women make up 56 per cent of the workforce’,

We also use ‘make up’ in this way: with Liam and Emma we made up a foursome for badminton.

More example sentences of make up

Milk, dairy, eggs, meat, fish and poultry make up your three-year-old child’s diet.

As of 2010, there were about 14 million Jews around the world, making up 0.2% of the global population.

American shoppers make up the largest percentage of foreign buyers.


Note that ‘make up’ is a bit less formal than ‘constitute’, but ‘compose’ is rather formal and perhaps rather old-fashioned.


Be made up of = When the subject refers to the whole, make up can also be used in the passive with of: ‘the novel is made up of twelve short stories’, ‘the crew is made up of five women and three men’.


Include = Comprise or contain as part of a whole; make part of a whole or set. When we talk about the whole and then only some of the parts, we use include: ‘the class includes many students from Singapore and Taiwan’, the trip includes a one-night stay at Hawaii’, ‘the price includes all meals and bed’, etc.

More example sentences of include

She donated a few articles of furniture including an almirah, a chair and a vanity table.

The wine was quite good, and it was included in the price of the dinner.

On our trip to Maryland, we were allowed only breakfast and dinner because lunch was not included in the price.

Food and drinks are included in the entry price so it’s a bit of a bargain.

The book also includes some hints for beginners at the back.

Ending a Sentence with a Preposition


Ending a sentence with a preposition has long been frowned upon by traditional readers and is still considered grammatically incorrect. However, it’s not technically an error. It’s perfectly OK to end a sentence with a preposition such as with, for, of, and to in the English language. ‘Where did you get this shirt from?’ and ‘This is the novel I told you about!’ sound much more natural than ‘From where did you get this shirt?’ or ‘This is the novel about which I told you!’

So, if the alternatives tend to create confusion or sound unnatural, it’s totally permissible to end your sentence with a preposition especially in casual or informal writing. Most grammar and usage guides had come to the conclusion that there was really nothing wrong with ending a sentence with a preposition (also known as preposition stranding, or sentence-terminal prepositions). For example:

Who were you speaking to?  (informal and more casual)

To whom were you speaking? (formal, but not in use in conversation)

Whom were you speaking to? (breaks out the rule of ending a sentence with a preposition, a little formal)


Some example sentences

Who (whom) were you sitting with?

I don’t understand what she’s talking about!

Where does she come from?

Who is she going out with?

Which movie was she cast in? (casual)

In which movie was she cast? (formal)

Where did this box come from?


Many English idioms and colloquial expressions end in prepositions. When you use the expressions at the end of a sentence, the sentence ultimately ends in a preposition. For example:

She gave up the job when her first child came along.

Thanks for stopping by!

The shop is all set up.

Will you calm down?


Is it necessary to move the preposition?

Though in informal setting, it doesn’t require you to move the preposition away from the end of the sentence, it could be your choice in formal writing. Phrases that sound natural in informal English may feel odd or awkward in formal essay, article or conversation. Here are some tips for changing sentences in formal writing.

Today is the big day; who his only daughter is getting married off to? (casual)

Today is the big day; to whom his only daughter is getting married off? (formal)

She’s the girl I’m going to work with. (informal)

She’s the girl with whom I’m going to work. (formal)

Mughal era is the period I’m focusing on. (informal)

Mughal era is the period on which I’m focusing. (formal)

Palmistry is a subject Tom knows nothing about. (informal)

Palmistry is a subject about which Tom knows nothing. (formal)


Some more example sentences

What should I put the honey in?

They need to decide which side they’re on.

Who is this coffee for?

There is nothing in her life to be grateful for.

There’s nothing to be afraid of.

She wished she had someone to confide in.

What did you step on?

The meeting was called off.

The matter has been dealt with.

The maid knows where your shoes are at. (‘at’ is unnecessary; the sentence is okay with ‘The maid knows where your shoes are.)

Mother doesn’t know where she’s going to. (‘to’ is unnecessary)

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