Know Your English

Know your English: September 12

“Tell me, how is the word m..e..t..e pronounced?”

“It’s pronounced like the word ‘meet’. Nowadays, this rather formal word is mostly used in the expression ‘mete out’. It means to punish someone. You...”

“So, are you the one ordering or giving the harsh punishment? Are you...”

“It could be anyone. It could be you or someone else. For example, the students were highly critical of the treatment meted out to the workers.”

“How about this example? Judges are reluctant to mete out harsh sentences against crooked politicians. I think they should.”

“Sounds good. Even today, there are many teachers in our country who believe it’s okay to mete out punishment to little children.”

“I certainly don’t! In fact, I feel that we should .......”

“Please, you need to lighten up. You have a tendency to.....”

“Lighten up? Are you telling me that I have put on weight and that I need to....”

“No, I don’t want you to go on a diet. When you tell someone that he should lighten up, what you’re suggesting is that the individual should learn to relax.”

“You want him to stop taking everything that is being said very seriously.”

“That’s right. The new teacher is very serious in class. She needs to lighten up.”

“Shreya had been tense all morning. But once she heard she’d got the promotion, she lightened up.”

“Revathi lightened up during our trip to Hyderabad. I’ve never...”

“Oh yes, you went to Hyderabad, didn’t you? How was the seminar?”

“It was okay. Nobody had anything new to say. But I did manage to see quite a few places in Hyderabad.”

“Did you go to the Salar Jung Museum? They say it’s great.”

“It is, actually. I wanted to spend at least half a day there. But unfortunately, my boss’ brother-in-law had tagged along with us and he...”

“Tagged along? Does it mean he went along with you?”

“You could say that. When someone tags along with you, he accompanies you even though you haven’t asked him to.”

“In other words, he’s like an uninvited guest. He forces himself on you.”

“Exactly! Whenever Raman took Laxmi to a movie, her brother tagged along with them.”

“That couldn’t have been fun. When I went out with my friends, I made it very clear to my parents that I didn’t want my younger brother tagging along with us.”

“The puppy tagged along wherever we went. Despite being...”

“Tell me, is there a difference between ‘despite’ and ‘in spite’? I mean is....”

“In terms of meaning, there is not much of a difference. You can use the two words interchangeably in most contexts. Just remember that ‘in spite’ is always followed by ‘of’ and ‘despite’ is not. The children continued to play in spite of/despite the rain.”

“In spite of/Despite his brilliant performance in the league matches, Rahul wasn’t selected for the State team.”

“That’s politics for you. I’ve got to go to the supermarket. I need...”

“Mind if I tag along?”

* * *

He taught me housekeeping; when I divorce I keep the house. — Zsa Zsa Gabor

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 6:33:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/know-your-english/Know-your-English-September-12/article14640052.ece

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