Grammar &

Idioms Lesson


Over-the-Hump-Wednesday Grammar & Idioms Lesson

November 27th, 2019

Dear NESE Community:


This week, we are going to look at some “interesting” language usage. We, as native speakers, find it fun. We hope you do, too.


The following words mean the same thing despite being opposites:














to slow up / slow down

       The woman was driving fast. Her husband told her to slow up.

       The man was driving fast. His wife told him to slow down.













to fill in / fill out

       She was required to fill in the form before the interview.

       He was required to fill out the form after the interview.


In English, “in” usually makes a word negative:


appropriate - inappropriate

attentive - inattentive

effective - ineffective

sane - insane

visible - invisible


However, look at the following. They have the same meaning!











flammable - inflammable

       The sign on the truck said, “Caution. Flammable Contents!”

       The sign on the truck said, “Caution. Inflammable!!”

(Please note that some dictionaries define “flammable" and “inflammable” as having slightly different meanings, but others don’t.)


The following words have the opposite meanings, despite being the same word.


















to dust: to add fine powder or to take away fine powder

       They dusted the cake with fine chocolate.

       They dusted the house for the first time in months.












to leave: to depart or to remain

       The flight left one hour late.

       They left their dog with friends.















to trim: to add or to take away

       In many cultures, children trim a Christmas tree each year.

       The barber trimmed the man’s beard.


Until next week, we send you, as always, our kind regards,


Your NESE Over-the-Hump Team






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