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Questions about English words





SonLight
Some questions about English usage came up in a thread http://www.frihost.com/forums/vt-144435.html. I decided to discuss them here. I am not an expert in English grammar, and my dialect may differ from yours. Feel free to chime in if you disagree with a detail or if you still have questions.

Quote:
What is a little faith?
Where is the big faith?


The expression, "to have little faith", means does not believe in, or does not have much confidence in. There is a distinction between "little faith" and "a little faith". "little faith" is a negative condition. Faith may be entirely absent, but there may be some faith. The lack of the article, a or the, suggests a vagueness. To have "a little faith" means some belief is present, but is limited. "big faith" would seldom (probably never) be used. Instead, to have a great deal of confidence in something is to have "a lot of faith".

Quote:
What is strong believe?
What is weak believe?


To strongly believe something means you have a great deal of confidence in it. To rewrite it as a thing rather than an action, it should be rewritten as "a strong belief". Example, I strongly believe in human rights, or I believe strongly in human rights (sounds better in this context), or I have a strong belief in human rights. The first two use believe as a verb; the last uses belief as a noun. A weak belief would mean only a little bit of confidence. This would seldom be used. I think "his belief is weak" would be more likely, but only if the level of his belief was being discussed.

The word "wisdom" should be distinguished from knowledge and understanding. Knowledge means knowing particular facts; example: 3+2 is 5, 3+4 is 7. Understanding means being able to see patterns or general principles. To understand addition suggests you can use the method to figure out new relationships. Wisdom is much harder to define, but suggests you are able to make good decisions because you understand both the subject matter and how you will be affected by your choice.
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