Wait, are you a freelancer?

Know your English

Know your English | Photo Credit: Getty Images

What is the difference between ‘day by day’ and ‘day-to-day’? (T. Ravi, Bengaluru)

The two expressions have very different meanings. When you say things are getting worse ‘day by day’, what you are suggesting is that things are gradually deteriorating — the change has been slow and it has taken time. It has not been a sudden change; it has been slow and steady.

Ganpat is doing much better now. He’s growing stronger day by day.

We need to move out of here. This neighbourhood is going downhill day by day.

The expression ‘day-to-day’ is mostly used as an adjective to mean routine. For example, when you talk about someone’s ‘day-to-day responsibilities’, you are talking about his everyday responsibilities — routine responsibilities which he has to deal with on a daily basis.

Whenever the VC is on leave, I look after the day-to-day administrative needs of the university.

The watchman’s day-to-day responsibilities include watering the garden.

The expression has another meaning as well. It means planning for the day or for the moment. We don’t worry too much about the future.

Given the fact that he has stage four cancer, its not surprising that he’s only concerned about his day-to-day existence.

Most of the homeless people are forced to lead a day-to-day existence.

What is the meaning and origin of the word ‘freelancer’? (S. Jamuna, Vellore)

A ‘freelancer’ is someone who does not work full time for any organisation. He is his own boss, and he decides who he will work for, and for how long. He may be working with several different companies at the same time. For example, a freelancer may choose to work for a company two days a week — the remaining days, he may work for someone else or not work at all. Freelancers sell their services by the hour, day, etc. A company may hire a freelancer for a particular project; once the project has been completed, he moves on. Lot of youngsters today prefer to be freelancers rather than work for someone full time.

Most of the people who work in our office are freelancers.

My friend is a freelance journalist.

The word can also be used as a verb – to freelance.

After retirement, Ram decided to freelance for the newspaper that he had worked for.

Aditi keeps herself busy by freelancing for several websites.

The word ‘freelancer’ has been part of the English language for several hundred years. A lance was a weapon which soldiers in the cavalry — those riding horses — used to carry when they rode into battle; and the people who wielded this weapon were called ‘lancers’. In Old English, ‘freo’, from which we get ‘free’, meant ‘not in bondage’. In other words, a ‘freelancer’ was someone who was not committed to fight for any individual — the lancer did not pledge allegiance to anyone. He was a mercenary, and therefore free to fight for anyone who was willing to pay him a lot of money.

In my youth, I was a freelance political speechwriter, which taught me a lot about writing fiction, I must add.

- Susan Isaacs

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Printable version | Mar 25, 2022 10:31:32 am |