Wake and Awake; Waken and Awaken


Wake and awake; waken and awaken are perhaps the most vexing words that confuse most writers and speakers. All these four have almost similar meaning, though some are used in the way others cannot be. Now let’s start with each of them:


Wake = Emerge or cause to emerge from sleep; stop sleeping; (Present: wake, wakes, woke, Past participle: waked (or woken). Waked is more common in US English while UK English prefers woken.

Father got woken at 4 am by the sudden lightning strokes of thunderstorms.

I woke up on Monday morning at 8 am and was half an hour late for office.

Jack was woken by some frightened screams that echoed some houses away.

Martha was still asleep so I decided to watch the television until she woke up.

I woke up Nancy who was sleeping at the time and left for office.

I was afraid that Mrs Joseph’s snoring would wake the children.

Notice that wake shows the expressions like waking and sleeping or every waking moment. Also, wake comes together with up to form a complement verb. Others don’t. However, pairing with up is not always necessary and it all depends on context:

She waked (or woke) up.


Awake = Stop sleeping; wake from sleep; (Present: awake, awakes, Past: awoke/awaked, Past participle: awoken/awaked); both forms of the past tense – awoke and awaked as well as both participial forms – awoken and awaked are acceptable. However, awoke is more common than awaked. Awake and awoken are also rather literary words. In informal UK English, the adjective awake is more common than waking.

Awake is used in two ways. When it is used as an adjective, it describes a person or animal’s state. It can only be used as a predicate adjective, in the predicate of a clause, not as an attributive adjective before a noun:

 Martha is awake and is getting ready to go to work.

When it is used as a verb, it is used as intransitive taking no object and means ‘to become awake (adj)’:

I awake at 5 o’ clock in the morning in summers.

Oh my gosh! You awoke at 12 o’clock this morning.

How often have you awoken/awakened early in these days?


Waken = To (cause to) wake from sleep; (Present: waken, wakens, Past: wakened; Past participle: wakened); waken is a regular verb and you can use it like any other common verb. It is both transitive and intransitive:

She stayed up late and had not wakened until 10 am.

The loud noise in the street wakened me.

The ticket collector shook him but he didn’t waken.

The news wakened the captain to his crew’s treachery. (to cause to be aware; alert or enlighten)

In literary style, we can use waken instead of wake up.


Awaken = To stop sleeping or to make someone stop sleeping; (Present: awaken, awakens

Past: awakened, Past participle: awakened). Awaken is also a regular verb; it is the verb that sounds perfectly natural in almost all situations:

All men at the regiment were unwilling to get out of bed when they were awakened.

The child had just been awakened from a deep slumber.

The train had just pulled into the station and he was abruptly awakened from sleep in the waiting room.

Mr. Wilson was awakened from his sleep by a loud knock at the door.

A lot of people in the US believe the 9/11 attacks have finally awakened America to the effects of terrorism.

The princess was awakened with a kiss.

Some grammar experts insist that waken is used only as a transitive verb (the lightening wakened him) while awaken is used only as an intransitive verb (he awakened with the sound of water flowing from the tap).

Each of the boys is or are


Each of + determiner + plural noun = Each can be followed by a determiner (A, an, the, my, his, etc.) and a plural noun; refers to only one of a set or collection; or to a set or collection among others; hence, each takes a singular verb (‘is’) which is also a traditional choice:


Each of these pies is crispy.

Each of these kids has a talent for acting at an early age.

Each of the candidates has considerable expertise in the construction of dams.

Each of the guides has a story to tell while taking us up into the mountains.

Each of the employees in this organisation plans to take retirement before the age of 50.

She gives each of her students homework before they go for vacations.

Each of the cities has its own mayor.                        


Also, the words each, each one, everyone, everybody, anyone, anybody, nobody, somebody, someone, no one, either and neither are singular and take a singular verb.

Everyone has their (his or her) own ideas about how to raise funds for the poverty-stricken immigrants.


Be careful! Don’t use each in negative clauses:

Each of the documents was not credible to convince the judge.                  

None of the documents was credible to convince the judge.                       


Notice that when we speak informally, we often use a plural verb:

Each of the students have to sign the register before they leave.     (Informal)


Each of + pronoun (you/us/them)


We use the pronouns you, us, them after each of:

 Each of us wishes for good fortune.

Father gave each of us a small booklet at the end of the sermon.

Jessica decided to give each of them a good clean.

Each of you needs some rest before tonight’s journey.

The verb following each of + pronoun must be in the singular form.


Each (as a pronoun)

 Each can be used as a pronoun (without a noun):

When the delegates entered the hall, each was given a translator. (Each = each of the delegates)

When the delegates entered the hall, each one was given a translator. (It is more common to use each one instead of each by itself).


Note: Some usage guides disagree on the usage of the pronoun [each] when it is followed by the phrase containing a plural noun or pronoun; they say the verb should be plural:

Each of the students have (or has) spoken for or against the motion.


Notice that we use they, their and them when we don’t want to be gender-specific to refer to the phrases such as ‘each candidate’, ‘each participant’, etc:

Each candidate complained that the community centre where they (he or she) were put up had the worst facilities.

Majority – Singular or Plural


Majority = Can be either singular or plural; however, it all depends on the context. If we use the word ‘majority’ to describe a collection of individuals, we treat it as plural:
Although the majority likes his suggestions in general, it doesn’t agree with him on every issue.

(In British English, we usually use a plural verb in this meaning).
The majority are upset about the government’s new economic policies.


When the word ‘majority’ refers to a collective group, it should be singular:
A 65% majority is in favour, 30% against, and the rest is undecided.


In case we are uncertain whether it is a collection of individuals or a collective group, we use whatever form sounds best to us.
He interviews several candidates every day and the majority are women.


Be careful! ‘Majority’ should be used with countable nouns and not with uncountable nouns:
He has finished the majority of the lessons. (Here, lessons are countable)
He has finished the majority of the lesson.    (One lesson consisting of several pages is not countable)
Instead we say: He has finished the most of the lesson.


Majority of:
When we use ‘majority of ’in a sentence and it is followed by a noun, we use a plural verb:
The majority of voters in this constituency are women.


When ‘majority’ indicates a particular number of votes, we use a singular verb:
President’s majority has grown by 20 percent over the past five years.

When ‘majority’ specifies a group of persons or things that are in the majority, we can use either a singular or plural verb; however, it depends on whether the group is taken as a whole or as a set of people considered individually:
The majority don’t like the Prime Minister and they have voted him out.
The majority doesn’t like the Prime Minister and it has voted him out.   


Be careful! Majority is often preceded by great (but not by greater) when we want to express the sense of “most of” beyond doubt:

The great majority went in for the classical music.
The ‘greater majority’ is OK only when there are two majorities:

Jack beat out Mark by a greater majority in this election than in the previous one.

Be concerned about vs. Be concerned with


Be concerned about sth/sb = Used after a linking verb such as be; If you are concerned about something, you are worried about it.


Be concerned with sth/sb = To be related to a particular thing or person; if a piece of information, statement or speech is concerned with a subject, it deals with it.


Grandma has been concerned about Jack lately.

The Prime Minister was concerned about the level of corruption in the country.

Mr Harry has always been concerned about the welfare of his employees.

Mother is getting concerned about Susan because she has been busy on her computer all day.

I’m sure everything will go as planned — don’t be so concerned about it.

This statement of the minister is concerned with recent walk-outs by the opposition.

This exercise is concerned with grammar.

We would like to have the opinion of all concerned before embarking on this new business venture.


Be Careful! Do not say that a piece of information, statement or speech is concerned about a subject.

This statement of the minister is concerned about recent walk-outs by the opposition.    


Be careful! When the adjective ‘concerned’ is used before a noun, its meaning changes. Here, it is used to refer to people or things involved in a situation that we have just mentioned.

Sally has already begun working on the projects concerned.


We also use ‘concerned’ with the pronouns all, everyone, and everybody:

It is hereby informed to all concerned.

There was manifest relief among all the concerned at the decision not to shut down the unit.


Also, concerned is used where the sense is so far as that goes; as or so far as that is concerned.

Take no chances where human safety is concerned.

In spite of vs. Despite


In spite of = Regardless of; without being affected or prevented by something mentioned; despite

Despite    = Regardless of; in defiance of

We use in spite of when we mention some fact that makes another fact surprising.


Notice that it is in spite of (spelling-wise), and not ‘inspite of.


In spite of her injury, Martina will play in Sunday’s match.              

In spite of his best efforts, he couldn’t save their marriage of 12 years.

In spite of its election promises, the ruling party is still deeply distrusted on key employment and corruption issues.

She had deceived him before, but Jim still loves her in spite of everything.

Brave Jane managed to get hold of her gold chain and, in spite of once losing her grip, pushed the robber over.

In spite of the new dispensation, the country was still faced with the daunting task of curbing terrorism.

In spite of the enormity of floods, the relief workers struggled on with full enthusiasm.

Anyhow, he made it to the final, in spite of the early hiccups.

Jack knew it would be a good idea to hire a chauffeur in spite of what Father said.


Be Careful! Do not use ‘in spite of’ to say that something is not affected by any circumstances:


This quiz contest is open to all, in spite of age.               

This quiz contest is open to all, regardless of age.           


Also, do not use ‘in spite of’ as a conjunction.

The teachers took their answer sheets away in spite of students objected.            

Although students objected, the teachers took their answer sheets away.              


More examples:

Despite her ill health, she is always lively and cheerful.

He loves playing and spending time with street children despite not having much free time.

I’m still tired despite my going to bed early, although my sleep was disturbed.

The Vaughan City Councillor said that despite the recent avalanche, all the roads are clear.

Cameron is likely to be chosen the Secretary of the association, despite opposition from some quarters.

The ambience was calm and serene despite all the hullabaloo for the new academic year.

Despite the difference in their ages, they are happily married.

The old Compton street alcohol shop is going to be reopened despite protests from local womenfolks.

Be Careful! Never say ‘despite of’.

Who vs. That; That vs. Which


Who, that and which are all relative pronouns which are used in a sentence or clause to specify which person or thing or which type of person or thing we are talking about.


Who vs. that


In a defining relative clause, the relative pronoun can be the subject or the object of the clause. When in a sentence, the relative pronoun is the subject of the clause, the verb follows the relative pronoun:

The old woman who lives next to us looked very queer, with witchy hair and soiled clothes.

The man who gave me a stern look will be staying with us in the vacations.

I have a friend who has played in county cricket.

There have been many complaints about the people littering on the sidewalk who/ that live in those flats.

Wilsons have a relative who/ that every so often visits them.

The thought of seeing her after so long was all that kept him awake all night.


Be careful!

Don’t put a comma between the noun and a defining relative clause. Relative clauses begin with a relative pronoun ‘who’, ‘which’ or ‘that’. However, we often drop the wh-word. Instead, a zero relative pronoun is used:

She was probably the most charming woman (that) I have ever worked with.

Martha, the woman (that) Bob married last year, has broken up with him.

We flew to Hong Kong by the airline (which/ that) Pamela had recommended to us.


When the relative pronoun is the object in a sentence, a noun (or pronoun) comes between the relative pronoun and the verb in relative clause. Here, we use a zero relative pronoun:

That’s the man (who/ that) I saw in the police van this morning.

She gifted the necktie to her husband (which/ that) she had brought back from Switzerland.


That vs. which


So, now we move on to the main distinction between that and which, where there’s a slight difference between UK and US English. In UK English, if a clause contains some necessary information about the noun that comes before it, it’s OK to use either that or which:

She took the train which runs between Kansas City and St. Louis.               

She took the train that runs between Kansas City and St. Louis.                  

Jack boarded the train that came first.


However, in US English, most Grammar guides recommend that for introducing a restrictive relative clause, use that rather than which:

She gave her all woollens to charity that she bought only two months ago.


We use that as subject after something and anything. Words such as little, much, all and none are used as nouns and superlatives. That or zero relative pronoun is used as subject after these:


That’s all (that) I wanted to explain her.                     

That’s all which I wanted to explain her.                    

Is there anything (that) you need to know about the man?   

Is there anything which you need to know about the man?  

That’s the most fascinating place (that) I had ever gone.                 

That’s the most fascinating place which I had ever gone.                

Learnt vs. Learned


Learnt = Much more common in British English than in American English

Learned = Used in both British English and American English


We learnt/learned of President’s death on BBC radio.
Jill learnt/learned the table of 11 by heart.

Though she was driven to distraction by the noisy niblings, she  learnt/learned the speech in a few hours.

She learnt/learned Spanish from her mother.

She hasn’t learnt/learned her lines for the play yet while Maria played the scene with great skill.

She learnt/learned modesty from her mother.

He hadn’t given a damn about my advice, so I guess he learnt/learned the hard way.


There are a number of other irregular verbs like burnt/burned, leaped/leapt, dreamt/dreamed, spilled/spilt, knelt /kneeled, spoilt/spoiled, spelt/spelled, etc., which follow the same pattern in their past tense and past participle structure.

Note: It is learned (not learnt), an adjective which is pronounced as two syllables (lərn|əd) rather than the one syllable verb (ləːnt or ləːnd) means ‘having or showing profound knowledge’.

He is a learned and respected jurist.
The judge couldn’t dismiss the report as it came in an extremely learned journal.

On your own vs. By yourself


On your own =  Without any help; unaccompanied by others; alone

By yourself    =  Through one’s own efforts; alone; nobody else

On your own and by yourself are two phrases that are seemingly different, but their meanings are the same and often both are used interchangeably with no loss of meaning. However, one may be preferred over another, according to context. Again, it all depends on the context:

I handled the situation on my own. (conveys a positive approach which one’s proud of)

I handled the situation by myself.    (shows a negative one since nobody was there to help one, so he had to do it by himself).


Both on my own and by myself may denote ‘without assistance from anybody else’. On my own implies ‘on my own initiative, without being prompted or ordered to do so,’ whereas by myself may suggest ‘when I was alone:’


On your own:

We are expecting our first baby earlier this month and I have to do things on my own.

These exercises are very simple; Jack can do these all on his own.

She has been in the city for quite some time and now is used to live on her own.

The matter has become so complicated. Can you handle it on your own?

He had his right arm in plaster so, couldn’t tie his shoelaces on his own.

It is not safe to go and come back late at night in this city on your own.

He thought of the idea of participating in the quiz contest on his own.


By yourself:

With all these picturesque rocky shores, I really enjoy spending a quiet evening here by myself. (alone)

You can’t lift the box onto the table all by yourself! Can I help you? (through one’s own efforts alone).

Though she is ill enough for a doctor to be called, she likes to visit him by herself.

Jack hesitated to drive into a dark and vacant road by himself.

She occupied by herself the parking space large enough for two cars.

Pamela is unable to download it by herself since this is new to her.

Little Tanya made that paper boat all by herself.

Why did you let your wife go by herself such a far-off place?

He’s been living by himself since he’s broken up with Susan.

Little Jimmy slipped on the wet floor but stood up by himself.

Jill arrived late in the class to find the teacher by himself chit-chatting with another teacher.

Insist on doing something vs. Insist that; Insist on my/me (doing)


Insist on doing something (v.intr.) = To be resolute or firm in a demand or course: He insisted on paying for his share of the expenses.

Insist that (v.tr.) = To assert or demand (something) firmly or persistently; and often that something is true, especially when other people think it may not be true:

He insisted that he’d pay for his share of the expenses.

He merely insisted on paying for the dinner but didn’t take his wallet out.


Notice that we never say that someone ‘insists to do’ something.

He merely insisted to pay for the dinner but didn’t take his wallet out.         

Jane insisted on being posed for photograph next to the Statue of Liberty.

It was cold and wet outside so he insisted on staying at home.

Hilda had a painful and upsetting divorce – She doesn’t want to talk about it. I don’t understand why you insist on talking about it.

It has rained all day. I don’t know why you insist on watering the flowers.


The construction insist + infinitive is believed to be nonstandard which deviate from a commonly accepted language norm, and many native speakers would probably say it is not conforming to grammatical rules. The standard format is insist on + present participle:


If you insist to go out in this rain, you must take the umbrella.                   ✗

If you insist on going out in this rain, you must take the umbrella.             


In constructions such as “Jane insisted [that] Linda stayed the night“, most discreet speakers would use the subjunctive form “Jane insisted [that] Linda stay the night.” Here the subjunctive doesn’t “conjugate” (for different tenses, or Ist/ IInd / IIIrd person subject, etc.) in the same way as the infinitive.


My wife insisted that I stay with the kids for a couple of weeks before going back to work at Stanford.

This kind of construction is called ‘mandative subjunctive’ and is used to express circumstances that are desired, demanded, etc.


Many credible writers on ‘subjunctive’ point out that there is a possible confusion between the ‘indicative’ and ‘subjunctive’ mood in sentences with propose, insist and suggest:

She insists that he is at home for Christmas (indicative, a forceful assertion of the fact that he is at home).

She insists that he be at home for Christmas (subjunctive, a demand that the condition of his being at home be fulfilled).


Notice that do/does are not used in negative subjunctive sentences:

The doctor insisted that he doesn’t walk briskly until he has his stitches taken out.        

The doctor insisted that he not walk briskly until he has his stitches taken out.               


Insist on my/me (doing) = both are correct.

She insisted on my telling a joke. (preferred choice in writing; telling a joke is a gerund, a noun, so it takes the possessive my).

She insisted on me telling a joke. (informal; in spoken English)

Hence, “She insisted on my telling a joke ” and “She insisted on me telling a joke” are on an equal footing.

Different from vs. Different than vs. Different to


Different from = Standard phrase, the most common of the three; used in simple comparisons both in US and UK English


There’s not much difference in sense between the three expressions, and all of these have been used by eminent writers.

What actually happened was totally different from what the police gave their version.

Now it has become an established fact that this administration is different from previous administrations.

His latest novel is different from (any of) his previous novels (that he’s written).

He is one of the best attorneys on the job that I know and one wonders what makes him so different from his predecessors.

Jack gambled away all of his father’s savings and this day would be no different from all the others.

This plant grown in the tropical climate is going to be different from one grown in the temperate climate.


Different than = (mainly US) Not ungrammatical, but purists avoid it though there’s no real justification for it. Those in favour of different than argue that a sentence like It is no different for Congressmen than it is for Senators is OK by all means and rephrasing it to It is no different for Congressmen from the way it is for Senators’ looks clumsy and ill-chosen.

He looked different in this movie than he did in his last.

She didn’t look much different than when she was in her thirties.

Cameron Boyce certainly wants to look different than his co-stars in his latest movie.

Pamela wanted to do something different than her friends on Thanksgiving Day.

These chocolates taste very different than the ones the kids usually take from supermarket. (or … very different from/to the ones the kids usually take)

His get-up with a pinstriped suit and narrow tie is different now than before he went to Hong Kong. (or … different now from before he went to Hong Kong.)


Different to = Limited to British English (much more common in British English than American English)

The Ragged School Museum with respect to decorative arts and design is no different to any other major museum.

Despite having worn the same clothes, Christina looked so different to/from her twin sister.

When it comes to the corruption, the ruling party is no different to any of its predecessors.

A good stand-up comedian gets into your brain in a manner quite different to a comic book.

Latest Posts