English language and editing · Uncategorized

Lesson 59 Problem Prepositions III: EMPHASISE/ EMPHASISE ON


Welcome to our third lesson in the series of Problem Prepositions. Our focus today is to look at the combination of emphasise (verb) with on (preposition) and why it could be problematic.

Now, everyone knows this word and you have probably used it a billion times already in your lifetime. And so, what new thing could you learn from the lesson? It is exactly the abuse of the word that has resulted in its improper use. And for those already bashing me in their heads because of my spelling of the word, it may interest you to know that emphasise is British and emphasize is American.

To emphasise means to give attention to something. Synonyms include stress, highlight and accentuate. Remember substitution in mathematics? We are going to use it to drum home the appropriate use of this word. We will use the meaning to give attention to something.

  1. You must (give attention to) the issue of peace during the elections
  2. You must (emphasise) the issue of peace during the elections
  3. You must (emphasise) on the issue of peace during the elections
  4. You must (give attention to) on the issue of peace during the elections.

Clearly, Sentence no. 4 is incorrect. For that reason, sentence 3 is also incorrect. It is therefore incorrect to say: to emphasise ON something. Eg. Could you empahsise on that? (No please, we won’t do that because we can’t say that!)

However, we can have EMPHASIS with ON. (No ‘e’ at the end and it is a noun not a verb). For this to be correct, we need to use it with a verb such as put, place, establish, is etc.

  • I don’t understand why he is putting more emphasis on the one mistake she made than all the other things she did right that day.
  • Instead of listening to a person’s words, most people place emphasis on the appearance of the person.
  • The school has for a long time had its emphasis on sports.

We hope this lesson was useful. Our next lesson will be on request for. Thank you all for your feedback. Let us also know how these lessons are helping you improve your English and recommend it to a friend. Let’s keep sharing.

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