Archive for March, 2010

Besides, Except, Apart from; Big, Large, Great

March 24th, 2010 in Vocabulary, Words

Besides, except and apart from

Besides usually adds.

Besides mathematics, we learn physics and chemistry. (We study three subjects.)

Except usually subtracts.

I learn all subjects except mathematics. (I don’t learn mathematics.)

Apart from can be used in both senses.


Apart from mathematics, we learn physics and chemistry. (= Besides mathematics, we learn physics and chemistry.)

I learn all subjects apart from mathematics. (= I learn all subjects except mathematics.)

Note that after negative words such as no, nobody and nothing, all of these three words can have the same meaning.

He has nothing besides/except/apart from his salary.

Big, large and great

We use big and large with concrete nouns. Note that big is more common in an informal style.

They have a big / large house in the city.

Your eyes are really big/large.

Great is used mostly with abstract nouns.

She didn’t know that she was making a great mistake.

Note that big can also be used with countable abstract nouns in an informal style. Large is not normally used with countable abstract nouns.

It was a big mistake. (BUT NOT It was a large mistake.)

Born and borne

We usually use the passive verb ‘to be born’ to talk about coming into the world at birth.

I was born in 1979.

He was born in Singapore.

Borne is the past participle form of the verb bear. In a formal style, it can mean ‘carry’ or ‘give birth to’.

She has borne eight children. (= She has given birth to eight children.)

Borrow and lend

We borrow something from somebody. Its meaning is similar to that of take.

Can I borrow your bicycle?

We lend something to somebody or we lend somebody something. Its meaning is similar to that of give.

He lent his bicycle to me. OR He lent me his bicycle.