Two in One: Inspiration + Vocabulary

This blog has 2 purposes – to provide you with sheer inspiration and to help you learn English vocabulary in the most meaningful and, well, inspiring way. Below you will find 10 great quotes and notes on key vocabulary from them. So, read on, get inspired and learn!

# 1 

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” (Epictetus /ˌɛpɪkˈtiːtəs/, a Greek philosopher)

  • Man can mean a person of either sex, but it’s an old-fashioned use of the word (more examples: all men are created equal; all men are mortal). Some people don’t like to use the word like this because they think it’s offensive to women.
  • To grieve (to feel extremely sad, especially because someone has died) can be used with for or without for: He is grieving for his wife. He is grieving her death.
  • To rejoice is a literary word which means to feel very happy about something. We usually use it with in or at: We rejoice in/at the happy outcome of the events. For is usually used talking about people someone is happy for: I rejoice for you = I am happy for you.

# 2

There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do. (Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company)

  • To be capable of something is to be able to do something: Show us what you are capable of. She is capable of reading 20 books a month.

# 3

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet. (James Oppenheim, an American poet, novelist, and editor)

  • To seek (sought; sought) is a word which sounds formal or literary, depending on the situation. It means to try to find (in the context of the quote above – happiness). More examples: I am seeking some meaning in my life; we don’t always find what we seek. (literary language) Seek used formally: you must show that you are actively seeking employment; you should seek medical advice (= you should ask for it, try to get it). 

# 4 

Losing is a learning experience. It teaches you humility. It teaches you to work harder. It’s also a powerful motivator. (Yogi Berra, an American professional baseball catcher)

  • Humility is a way of behaving that shows that you do not think that you are better or more important than other people. Synonyms: modesty, humbleness. Examples: her natural humility prevented her from advertising her exceptional musical gift; with humility we acknowledge our failings and limitations.

# 5

It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. (J.K.Rowling, a British novelist)

  • Far is often used for emphasizing a difference when you are making a comparison: It’s bad here but it’s far worse in other places. She is far more interested in her career than in her family.
pexels-photo-416731

It’s far too dangerous!

# 6 

If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it. (William James, an American philosopher)

  • If you care for something, you treat it carefully to keep it in a good state/condition. If you care about something, you are interested in it and feel strongly that it is important. Care + for examples: Your clothes won’t last if you don’t care for them properly. The car is lovingly cared for. In this part of the town we see well-cared-for houses. Care + about examples: You should care about people’s feelings. Our company cares about the environment. I care about what is on my son’s computer.
  • To attain is a formal verb which means to succeed in achieving something, especially after a lot of effort: Not all athletes attain this standard of physical fitness. We strive to attain excellence. No one can attain perfection.

# 7

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. (John F.Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States)

  • Indispensable – difficult or impossible to exist without something. Synonyms: essential, all-important: International cooperation is indispensable to resolving the problem of the drug trade. She quickly became indispensable to him. Each player is important and no one is indispensable.

# 8 

Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. (Stephen Hawking, an English theoretical physicist)

  • To make sense of something is to understand something that is complicated or unusual: We’ve been trying to make sense of our dreams, I even bought a dream book the other day. I’m trying to make sense of this document. I can’t make sense of the report. 

# 9 

We love but once, for once only are we perfectly equipped for loving. (Cyril Connolly, an English literary critic and writer)

  • But can mean only (formal language): We can but guess at the extent of the problem. There are many great books about love – “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Notebook,” “Wuthering Heights,” to name but a few. He is but a shadow of his former self.

# 10

Don’t count the days, make the days count. (Muhammad Ali, an American professional boxer)

  • To count is to calculate: Count to 10: 1, 2, 3… But another meaning of the verb to count is to be important, or to have influence: What really counts is your hard work and enthusiasm. You’re late, but you’re here; and that’s what counts. I believe that health and happiness count more than money.

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