Know your English Education

Pore over the document


What is the difference between ‘pour’ and ‘pore’? (Vinay Kohli, New Delhi)

Both words are pronounced the same way — they rhyme with ‘four’, ‘door’ and ‘bore’. The word ‘pour’ is mostly used as a verb to mean ‘to flow in a steady stream’. The word can be used with both animate and inanimate objects. For example, when we are in a restaurant, every now and then, the waiter comes and pours water into our glass. Whenever there is an agitation of sorts, newspapers report that people ‘poured’ into the streets. The use of the word suggests that people entered in large numbers in a steady stream. We also hear about ‘letters pouring in’ and ‘money pouring in’. The word ‘pore’, on the hand, can be used as a noun and a verb. A ‘pore’ is a tiny opening that allows things — liquid, gas, and so on — to go through. For example, sweat comes out through the pores in our body. The expression ‘pore over’ is frequently used in everyday contexts to mean ‘to focus intently’. When you pore over a document or a textbook, you go through it carefully. You are focussed on what you are reading.

When do we use ‘Yours sincerely’ and ‘Yours faithfully’ in letters? (S Radha, Chennai)

Do people actually write letters, nowadays? Both are used in formal letters and not intimate ones. If you mistakenly use either with your significant other (husband, wife, boyfriend, and so on), you have some serious explaining to do. It is unlikely to go down well with the person. The expression ‘Yours faithfully’ is mostly used when you are writing to someone whose name you do not know. Such letters usually begin with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. The closing ‘Yours sincerely’, on the other hand, is mostly used in formal contexts when you know the name of the person you are writing to — Dear Dr. Rao or Dear Mrs. Raman. Books on usage suggest that Americans prefer to use ‘Yours truly’ instead of ‘Yours faithfully’, and ‘Sincerely yours’ rather than ‘Yours sincerely’.

What is the meaning of ‘run someone off her feet’? (Naresh Kumar, Tiruchi)

When you tell someone that she/he is going to be ‘run/rushed off her/his feet’, what you are suggesting is that she/he is going to be kept extremely busy for some time. She/he is going to have a series of jobs to do, one after the other, and will have little or no time to rest. She/he is going to be on her/his feet all the time.

It is your sister’s wedding. You can bet you are going to be rushed off your feet.

With both kids falling ill, poor Vrinda was run off her feet.


This New Year, I resolved to lead a better life. Now all I have to do is to find someone who will trade lives with me. Melanie White

The writer teaches at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 8:02:05 PM |

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