Know Your English

Know Your English: June 20

“According to this article, our coach was the sometime captain of the Ranji Trophy team. Is it okay to say ‘sometime’ captain? Shouldn’t it be ‘former’ captain?”

“The word ‘sometime’ is used as an adjective in formal contexts to mean ‘former’. Your ‘sometime captain’ is your former captain.”

“I see. How about this example? The CBI raided the sometime Minister’s house?”

“Sounds good. The sometime Secretary of the Club passed away last week.”

“Let’s not talk about death. Let’s talk about…”

“Your team beating last year’s champions. How did it feel when you held the trophy?”

“I’m not really sure. We won because we had a bit of luck. We didn’t play all that well.”

“The important thing is that you won. Your team struck a purple patch at the right time.”

“Purple patch? What are you talking about?”

“The expression is used in sports quite a bit. When you say that someone struck a purple patch, what you’re suggesting is that the individual had tremendous success.”

“There was a period of time when he played really well and won many events.”

“Exactly! He could do no wrong. The expression is used in informal contexts. Now that Djokovic has hit a purple patch, people expect him to achieve the Golden Slam.”

“The contender enjoyed a purple patch in the first two sets. After that, he faded away.”

“Wouldn’t it be nice to go through a purple patch every now and then. You need a bit of luck to actually…”

“Is there any other word that can be used with ‘luck’?”

“It’s possible to say ‘a stroke of luck’. For example, by a stroke of luck, Kumar’s flight was delayed. I got to spend some time with him.”

“How about this example? I’d forgotten to take my wallet to the supermarket. I had a stroke of luck. I spotted Susan at the ice cream counter.”

“I thought she was on a diet! Anyway, it’s also possible to say ‘a piece of luck’. You need an incredible piece of luck to get a house like that for that price.”

“I think I had an incredible piece of luck when I spotted these sandals on sale. What do you think? Don’t they look great?”

“Look great? They look pretty ugly, if you ask me. I mean…”

“But let me tell you, they’re very comfortable. I can now walk with comfort.”

“Not ‘with comfort’, but ‘walk in comfort’. You usually walk with someone or something. For example, when he was young, Mohan was always embarrassed to walk to school with his little sister.”

“I had no problem walking to school with my grandmother.”

“Good for you. Do you think you will…”

“The ad says that the sandals will enable people to walk in comfort.”

“I don’t pay much attention to ads. My neighbour, Mr. Singh, walks with a limp.”

“Mr. Singh? You mean the former Principal… I mean the ‘sometime’ Principal of my school?”

“Well done!”

* * *

I believe in luck: how else can you explain the success of those you dislike? — John Cocteau

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 3:01:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/know-your-english/Know-Your-English-June-20/article14429931.ece

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