BIRTH, MARRIAGE, DEATH – CONFUSING WORDS
In this lesson we are going to look at a variety of commonly used expressions to do with birth, marriage and death that are often confused.
We say that children are born, e.g. according to some statistics, 100 babies are born every single minute. The most often used context for the verb is when you introduce yourself and say: ’I was born in 1968, in Poland.’
is the moment when someone is born, so you can say, e.g. 'Albert’s sister died at birth.’ or ’The birth of a child is always great news for the family’.
is a celebration of the day of your birth, which you often spend with your friends and family. 'I’m giving a birthday party next weekend. Can you come?’ 'His birthday is on March 5th . He will be 35 this year.’
describes a person who is someone’s husband or wife: 'How long have you been married?’ ’Married people don’t go out as much as they used to when they were single.’
Is a relationship between a husband and wife: 'Ted and Barbara have had a long and happy marriage.’ 'More and more marriages end in divorce.’
If someone marries someone else, they become the husband or wife of that person: 'Will you marry me?’ 'The day I married Greg was the happiest day of my life.’
is someone who does not live any more: 'The police don’t know whether the suspect is still alive or dead already.’ 'In autumn dead leaves fall down from trees.’
is the state of being dead: 'The cause of her death was internal bleeding.’ 'Hundreds of children starve to death each day. They have absolutely nothing to eat.’
means to stop being alive: 'My grandmother died of cancer (= cancer was the cause of her death).’ 'Who is ready to die for their country these days?’
Match the conversation halves.
- When is his birthday?
- What was the cause of her death?
- How many children are born every minute?
- Will you marry me?
- When do dead leaves fall from the trees?
- How long have you been married?
a) About one hundred.
b) For five years.
c) On March 5th.
d) In autumn.
Complete each gap with one word, then answer the questions.
- What is the recipe for a long and h…………………………. marriage?
- What is the best idea for a b…………………………. party?
- What is the most frequent cause …………………………. deaths in Poland?
ENGLISH IN USE
Look at the following sentence from the lesson:
’Albert’s sister died at birth.’
I’d like us to answer a question: ’Why do we say 'Albert’s sister’ and not 'the sister of Albert’ in English?’ Both are examples of a structure called ’saxon genitive’, used when talking about possession, someone/something belonging to someone/something else. A general rule here is that:
- we normally use -’s’ for people and animals, e.g.
’Where is the manager’s office?’
’What colour is Mark’s car?’
- for things, ideas etc. we normally use 'of’, e.g.
’He was sitting at the back of the car in complete silence.’
’What is the name of the book you got from Kate?’
- after a singular noun we use 's
(my brother’s room = one brother)
- after plural nouns we use an apostrophe after 's’
(my brothers’ clothes = more than one brother)
if a plural noun doesn’t end in 's’, we use 's (the children’s books)
A/ How is your mother?
B/ Not well, I’m afraid. She’s AT DEATH’S DOOR.
If you’re at death’s door, you’re very ill or likely to die.
PHRASAL VERBS CLOSE-UP
- When you MARRY somebody OFF, you find a husband or wife for them.
They tried to marry their daughter off to a rich businessman.
She was married off to the mayor’s son at the age of sixteen.
- If you MARRY INTO something, you become a member of e.g. a family, religion, social group by becoming the wife or husband of another member.
All of their daughters married into important local families.
There is nothing wrong in marrying into money.
Choose the best option to complete each sentence.
- Susan married with/ in/ into a Protestant family.
- The Smiths wanted to marry all their kids off/ out/ for as soon as possible.
- Jack is on/ at/ in front of death’s door. I pray for his recovery.
The mystery of missing bodies in several Third World countries remains unsolved.
It has been rumoured for a few years that not all of the deceased get to receive a proper burial. Sometimes it is the case that the bodies mysteriously disappear just before the funeral ceremony, and the bereaved are unable to pay their last respects.
The authorities are well aware of the phenomenon, but are at a loss when asked to explain the cause of the events. They stipulate that the bodies might be stolen and transported to Europe and the USA, where they might be used for organ transplants, or for other medical procedures. Of course, the whole enterprise is highly unethical and profoundly illegal.
– deceased – dead
– burial – funeral
– the bereaved – someone whose close friend or family member has just died
– pay their last respects – attend the funeral
– at a loss – unable to do sth
– stipulate – speculate
– profoundly – deeply
KEY TO EXERCISES