English Vocabulary: Frequently Asked Questions

“It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.”

Joseph Joubert,  a French essayist

FOR / SINCE

We use for and since to show how long something has been happening.

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I’ve lived here for a year.

I’ve lived here since April.

I have’t been at work for 2 days.

I haven’t been at work since Monday.

It’s possible to leave out for (but not usually in negative sentences):

They’ve been going out (for) half a year. (with or without “for”)

You haven’t had a holiday for 2 years! (you must use “for”)

We can use in instead of for in negative sentences:

They haven’t left the country in/for 15 years.

She hasn’t gone to the library in/for 6 months.

STILL / YET / ALREADY

Still means something is continuing, usually later than expected:

Are you still in bed? It’s 10 a.m.!

It’s 8 p.m. but we are still working.

Already means something has happened sooner than expected:

Sorry, she has already left. But you can call her.

I’ve already done my homework and now I can play.

Still and already go in the middle of the sentence. With one-word verbs, they go before the main verb, but after be. With multi-word verbs, they go after the first auxiliary verb:

I still find this word hard to remember. I’ve already forgotten it again!

I’ve already been seen by the doctor. I’m still sick.

If there is a negative verb, it goes after still but before already:

I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. I hope you haven’t already seen it.

Yet means we expect something to happen. It is used with questions and negatives, and goes at the end of the sentence:

I hope you haven’t seen it yet.

Are we there yet?

VERY / TOO / ENOUGH

Very means “a lot” or “extremely”. It goes in front of adjectives and adverbs:

I am very happy to see you again.

She was moving very gracefully.

We don’t use very with strong adjectives such as “enormous”, “delicious” etc.:

It was really/truly delicious (very delicious).

The sum of money is absolutely enormous (very enormous).

Too means “more than necessary”. It goes in front of adjectives and adverbs:

This house is too big!

You do it too often.

We often say too … to do something. Compare:

I’m too tired to watch TV. I think I should go to bed earlier.

I was very tired but I watched some TV.

Enough means “sufficient”. It usually goes before a noun but after an adjective:

Don’t worry. We’ve got enough room for everything.

The car is big enough for all of us.

GOOD / WELL

Good is an adjective and goes before the verb. Well is an adverb and goes after the verb. Compare:

She is a good dancer. She dances well.

We can sometimes use well as an adjective to mean “in good health”:

I’m not very well today.

I’m happy to hear that you are alive and well (= active and healthy).

We use well with a past participle for some expressions:

He’s a well known artist.

She’s always well dressed.

Well done, everyone!

DO / MAKE

As a general rule, if we talk about jobs and work, we use do:

I do the cleaning and mom does the cooking.

Do you do a full-time job?

If we talk about creating or building something, we use make:

Who made the cake?

Mitsubishi Motors will stop making cars in the U.S.

However, there are many expressions which just should be memorized. Such expressions and more information on make and do are here.

OTHER / ANOTHER

Both other and another mean “additional”. But other is usually used before plural nouns, and another – before singular countable nouns:

Other people will help you.

I need another person.

But it’s not always so:

Other information, other music, other art (other +singular uncountable nouns)

He is holding a peach in one hand, and in the other hand he’s holding a pear. No other artist can do anything like this. Some other man came. Kate is in university, and my other daughter is in school. There is one other thing we need to discuss. (other + singular countable noun if there is another determiner before the noun)

He believes prices will not rise by more than another 4 per cent. (another + an additional amount) (more about “another” is here)

Note that “the other” + singular noun” means the second of two things/people, or the opposite of a set of two.

“Other” can be a pronoun (in the sentences above it is a determiner), and when it refers to more than one thing/person, it takes the plural form:

Some teachers think this is the best way to learn. Others disagree.

I know Ann but I don’t know the others.