Who Do You Surround Yourself With?

My dad tells the story of how back in his college days at the beginning of a particularly challenging course he would get up and ask who in the class was planning on getting an A. He would then ask those two or three people to be in a study group with him. Why? So that he would rise to their level.

This is why it is very important who we surround ourselves with – we tend to reflect those people. We hang out with them and do the same things. We tend to talk about the same things and have similar opinions and attitudes. We also tend to rise (or fall) to their level – and to their expectations.

School is not easy, nor is it meant to be. But it is easier if you surround yourself with people who are committed to helping you get through school. All of us who work at Provo College are in this category – our job is to help you succeed. Hopefully you will also find many of your classmates are helpful and encouraging as well.

While we should seek out those who bring out the best in us, we should still respect and help insofar as we can everyone around us and treat everyone with kindness.

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Vocabulary #112

Here is this week’s vocabulary list.

conjugal – (adjective) of or relating to the married state or to married persons and their relations :  connubial.

premise² – (verb) 1a. to set forth beforehand as an introduction or a postulate, 1b . to offer as a premise in an argument; 2. postulate; 3. to base on certain assumptions.

segregate – (verb) 1. to separate or set apart from others or from the general mass :  isolate; 2. to cause or force the separation of (as from the rest of society); 3. separate, withdraw; 4. to practice or enforce a policy of segregation; 5. to undergo genetic segregation.

separate³ – (noun) 1a. set or kept apart :  detached, 1b. set or kept apart :  detached; 2a. not shared with another :  individual, 2b. often capitalized :  estranged from a parent body; 3a. existing by itself :  autonomous, 3b. dissimilar in nature or identity.

whim – (noun) 1. a capricious or eccentric and often sudden idea or turn of the mind :  fancy; 2. a large capstan that is made with one or more radiating arms to which a horse may be yoked and that is used in mines for raising ore or water.

All definitions are from Merriam-Webster.com. To learn more about these words or about other words, visit this website.

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Using a Dictionary

Dictionaries are incredibly useful things. They can tell you everything you need to know about a word. However, they can be a bit confusing at first. So let’s talk about what you will find in a dictionary.

First, in a paper dictionary everything is alphabetized. So yes, knowing how to spell the word you are looking for his helpful. Same with online dictionary, though at least there it will usually prompt you with items similar to what you typed in.

So you have found an entry. Let’s say you want to know about the word abbreviate. Let’s look at a sample definition of the word from Merriam-Webster.com.

ab·bre·vi·ate: verb \ə-ˈbrē-vē-ˌāt\

First, we have the word with dots to mark the syllables, syllables being the smallest sound units in the English language. Next we have what part of speech the word is, in this case a verb. This tells us that we can use this verb to indicate a type of action. Between the two backslashes we get the syllables marked again along with incorrect spelling and funny lines and marks. This is how the word is depicted phonetically if you are not sure how it sounds. Or you can always go online, where the dictionary usually has a sound icon you can click on to listen to the word. Whew! We haven’t even gotten to the main definition yet!

At this point we are given other verb forms for abbreviate. Then we are finally given the definition, including what type of verb this is. It turns out that there is also a noun version – abbreviator is no doubt one who abbreviates. If there had been other forms for the exact same word, for example there is a noun, verb, and adjective definition for the word tarry, those would have been indicated at the top and each would have been discussed in turn.

ab·bre·vi·at·ed ab·bre·vi·at·ing
Definition of ABBREVIATE

transitive verb
: to make briefer; especially : to reduce to a shorter form intended to stand for the whole
— ab·bre·vi·a·tor noun

Next, we are given several sentences that correctly use the word abbreviate so you can see exactly how it is used.

Examples of ABBREVIATE

You can abbreviate the word “building” as “bldg.”
“United States of America” is commonly abbreviated to “USA.”

We are then told the origins of the word abbreviate and when it first began being used in English. You will begin noticing patterns if you pay attention. The words that come from Old Norse for example are very different from the words that come from Latin.

Origin of ABBREVIATE

Middle English, from Late Latin abbreviatus, past participle of abbreviare— more at abridge

First Known Use: 15th century

Finally, several synonyms and antonyms for the words are suggested. If you have already used the word abbreviate several times in a paper and need a new word but don’t have a Thesaurus handy, a dictionary may offer a few synonyms and antonyms.

Related to ABBREVIATE

Synonyms: shorten, abridge, curtail, cut back, dock, elide, syncopate, truncate
Antonyms: elongate, extend, lengthen, prolong, protract

Not all dictionaries are equal. Some may be more detailed. Go to the Oxford English Dictionary if you want to know the obscurest meaning of a word. Some dictionaries may be less detailed. But these are some of the common features you will find in a dictionary.

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Vocabulary #111

Here is this week’s vocabulary list.

conjectural – (adjective) 1. of the nature of or involving or based on conjecture; 2. given to conjectures.

discriminate – (verb) 1a. to mark or perceive the distinguishing or peculiar features of, 1b. distinguish, differentiate; 2. to distinguish by discerning or exposing differences;especially :  to distinguish from another like object; 3a. to make a distinction, 3b. to use good judgment; 4. to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit.

extract¹ – (verb) 1a. to draw forth (as by research), 1b. to pull or take out forcibly, 1c. to obtain by much effort from someone unwilling; 2a. to withdraw (as a juice or fraction) by physical or chemical process, 2b. to treat with a solvent so as to remove a soluble substance; 3. to separate (a metal) from an ore; 4. to determine (a mathematical root) by calculation; 5. to select (excerpts) and copy out or cite.

notion – (noun) 1a. (1) :  an individual’s conception or impression of something known, experienced, or imagined (2) :  an inclusive general concept (3) :  a theory or belief held by a person or group, 1b. a personal inclination :  whim; 2. plural :  small useful items :  sundries.

separate² – (adjective) 1a. set or kept apart :  detached, 1b. immaterial, disembodied; 2a. not shared with another :  individual, 2b. often capitalized :  estranged from a parent body; 3a. existing by itself :  autonomous, 3b. dissimilar in nature or identity.

All definitions are from Merriam-Webster.com. To learn more about these words or about other words, visit this website.

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Being Present

We all have regrets from the past, and we should learn from them. We all have hopes for the future, and we should plan for them. But the fact is we live in the present.

Although we live in the present, that is not always where our mind is. Yet when we are focused on the present, that is when life can be richest.

So how do we live in the present?

Turn off your electronic devices. You can return that call after class or after work or after you have spent quality time with your family. You can answer that email tomorrow. Turn the music of and be in complete silence for a half-hour. When you spend time with your family it can be more than watching TV or movies. How about playing a game? Working on a project together? Learning how to make bread or make a wooden stool together?

But even without any electronic devices, you can still be mentally far away. I know I have had the experience where someone is talking to me but I am thinking about what I am going to have for dinner and that project for work needs to get done and did I remember to take the trash out last night?

Instead, focus on the person in front of you, on the project in front of you. You will find your relationships become more meaningful and your efficiency while working increases.

Still, this may be easier said than done. So start small. Focus on your current project for five minutes. For one minute. Focus on the person talking to you for five minutes. For one minute. Focus on a bird singing or a leaf blowing in the wind for five minutes. For one minute. When that feels easier, increase the time.

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Vocabulary #110

Here is this week’s vocabulary list.

don² -(noun) 1. a Spanish nobleman or gentleman —used as a title prefixed to the Christian name; 2. a head, tutor, or fellow in a college of Oxford or Cambridge University; broadly :  a college or university professor; 3. a powerful Mafia leader.

focus¹ – (noun) 1a. a point at which rays (as of light, heat, or sound) converge or from which they diverge or appear to diverge;specifically :  the point where the geometrical lines or their prolongations conforming to the rays diverging from or converging toward another point intersect and give rise to an image after reflection by a mirror or refraction by a lens or optical system, 1b. a point of convergence of a beam of particles (as electrons); 2a. adjustment for distinct vision; also :  the area that may be seen distinctly or resolved into a clear image, 2b. a state or condition permitting clear perception or understanding, 2c. direction; 3. one of the fixed points that with the corresponding directrix defines a conic section; 4. a localized area of disease or the chief site of a generalized disease or infection; 5a. a center of activity, attraction, or attention, 5b. a point of concentration; 6. the place of origin of an earthquake or moonquake; 7. directed attention :  emphasis.

furl¹ – (verb) 1. to wrap or roll (as a sail or a flag) close to or around something; 2. to curl or fold as in being furled.

interest² – (verb) 1. to induce or persuade to participate or engage; 2. to engage the attention or arouse the interest of.

usurp – (verb) 1a. to seize and hold (as office, place, or powers) in possession by force or without right, 1b. to take or make use of without right; 2. to take the place of by or as if by force :  supplant; 3. to seize or exercise authority or possession wrongfully.

All definitions are from Merriam-Webster.com. To learn more about these words or about other words, visit this website.

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Making a Word Plural

A plural word indicates that there is more than one. If there is more than one apple, there are several apples.

Usually you just add -s to the end of a word to make it plural.

Ex: apples, books, tables

There are some exceptions.

If the word ends in s, sh, ch, or x then you add -es.

Ex: churches, grasses

If the word ends in -0 and the word before the -o is a vowel, treat as normal.

Ex: Oreos, radios

If the word ends in -o and the word before the -o is a consonant, put -es on the end.

Ex: heroes, typoes

There are also a lot of irregular plurals.

Ex: man, men; cactus, cacti

Note: Some people put -‘s for plurals. This is incorrect. Apostrophes are only used for contractions and if you are talking about possession – someone owns something. Plurals never use apostrophes.

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