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Q: What is the meaning of “the + adjective”? Referring to “blind people”, which one is correct: the blind or the blinds?


A: Hi, Sadra here and thanks for this good question.

We generally leave out the noun after ‘the + adjective’ for it to mean a certain well-known group of people: “The unemployed are losing hope.” “a school for the handicapped”

Adverbs would add to the flavor: “a school for the physically handicapped” “the mentally ill” “the very rich”

‘The + adjective’ occasionally refers to a limited group, not the whole population of that adjective: “Right after the accident, the injured were taken to hospital.”

In a few formal fixed phrases, it can have a singular meaning: “The deceased shot her husband before killing herself!” “The accused was found innocent.”

Q: What is the difference between “pay out” & “pay off”? What other phrasal verbs are there with the verb “pay”?


A: Hi, Sadra here and let’s talk about different phrasal verbs with ‘pay’.

Let me start with the sweet one. When you pay money into your bank account, you PAY IN: “I paid in a little this morning.”

When you pay a large sum of money for something, you PAY OUT: “I had to pay out £500 to get my car repaired!”

When someone repays, they PAY you BACK the money and no prepositions needed: “Pay me back that $2000, would you Sara?”

In the case above, if Sara wants to pay you back, she’ll finally clear the debt; she’ll PAY it OFF. If she doesn’t have the lot of it, she’ll pay some of it; she’ll PAY it DOWN.

Now if she doesn’t want to pay, and her payment is late, you’ll have to make her pay all the money; you’ll get him to PAY UP!

Q: Words ending in “-ly” are usually adverbs, e.g. really, finally, and happily. Can adjectives end in -ly too? How can we know if the word is adjective or adverb?


A: Hi, Sadra here and thanks for this great question.

When you add -ly to adjectives, an adverb is produced, but adjectives ending in -ly generally include “noun + ly”. Orderly, friendly, and lovely are three examples of such adjectives.

There are, however, other adjectives made of noun + ly, when the noun is a person. In these adjectives, a simple “-ly”, in these cases, will affect the whole semantics of the word disproportionately: “She’s very NEIGHBORLY: she always collects my mail when I’m away on vacation.” “The man was tall, good-looking and SOLDIERLY.” “She used her WOMANLY charms to persuade him to change his mind.” “He has a deep, MANLY voice.” “She gave him a SISTERLY kiss on the cheek and he gave her a BROTHERLY hug.”

Other familiar examples include: “motherly (instincts)” “fatherly (advice)” “gentlemanly (behavior)” and “wifely (affection)”.

We can safely say that a good majority of better-known adjectives of this kind pertains to time or direction. We know such adjectives as ‘semimonthly’, ‘midweekly’, or ‘half-hourly’, but these two may interest you just as much:

‘NIGHTLY’: “a nightly news bulletin” (which is totally different from knightly, mind you!) and the one for every season (I mean every quarter of a year) is ‘QUARTERLY’ (NOT for every quarter of an hour): “a quarterly meeting of the board”.

Look these us as well: ‘midnightly’, ‘trimonthly’, and ‘winterly’.

As for directions, there are adjectives every which way: “We drove off in a northerly direction. /ˈnɔːrðərli/” “The plane was flying in a southwesterly direction.” “a warm southerly breeze/ˈsʌðərli/” “a cold easterly wind” “westerly gales” “Snow will spread to southeasterly regions tonight.”

Q: What’s the difference between ‘later’ and ‘after’?


A: Hi, Sadra here and thanks for the question. It’s a little too general but let me try and answer the best way I can.

In more exact expressions of time, you know, when we know exactly how long we’re talking about, LATER is more common: “three weeks later” “a fortnight later”

Save AFTER for adverb phrases like “long after”, “shortly after”, or “a few days after” which are not that exact, you see. You could use LATER as well, though.

One last thing, unlike ‘later’, you don’t use ‘after’ alone: “She later became a doctor.” “Not long after THAT he resigned.” “AFTERWARD she was sorry for what she’d said.”

BTW, later + time: “His father died later that year.” “The dentist could fit you in later this week.”

But ‘NOT/NO later + THAN + time’: “Please arrive no later than 8 o’clock.” “Completed entry forms should arrive not later than 31st July.”

Q: What’s the difference between LET, ALLOW, & PERMIT?


A: Hi, Sadra here and thanks for this question.

Let me share these four points:

1- With permit or allow, if there’s an object, use ‘to’, but if there isn’t, use ‘-ing’:

allow/permit + object + to: “They don’t allow people to smoke here.”

allow/permit + -ing: “They do not permit smoking in here.”

2- Passive structure with “it” is not possible with ALLOW, use PERMIT instead: “It is not permitted to smoke in here.”

3- Don’t use PERMIT with adverb particles, Use ALLOW instead, or LET if not passive: “They wouldn’t let me in.” “She isn’t allowed out past midnight.”

4- Don’t use LET in the passive: “I wasn’t allowed/permitted to attend.”

Q: How can we learn the English language the right way? What are your tips, please?


A: Hi, Sadra here and thanks for this important question.

Some of my tips to learn English the proper way:

    • Keep a positive mindset: Believe in yourself!
    • Don’t translate from your native language: Learn the language as it is!
    • You don’t need to understand everything: Tolerate a level of ambiguity!
    • It’s really OK to make mistakes: Learn from your mistakes!
    • Even native speakers are still learning: Keep learning and enjoy it because the game is the goal itself!