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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