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paired stories, second series
: whistle blowers
a: Satyendra Dubey
grammar and meaning notes
beginners' version

annotated version
vocab list #1
vocab list #2
vocabulary quiz

Satyendra Dubey: grammar and meaning notes

1 —
was born
• This is the past tense of the
set passive verb 'be born.' A set passive is a passive form that has a special meaning.
• 'Born' is the past participle of the irregular verb, 'bear.' In the past, this verb was used more or less as a
synonym of 'carry.' The verb, 'bear,' is not now very common in the active voice and when it is used, it is usually in a metaphorical way as in "Jane bore her troubles very patiently." (The meaning of, 'bear,' when it is used in this way is similar to the meaning of 'tolerate' or 'put up with.')
• As well as being used to mean 'carry,' the verb was also used, in the past, to refer to what happens when a woman has a baby, as in "Jillia bore twins while she was working in the garden." Now the verb is almost never used in this way — in the active voice — to talk about birth. But in the passive voice, it is the standard way of talking about birth in English — as in the sentence, "Jill's twins Tom and Dick were born in a hospital."
• 'Born' is actually a special form of the past participle of 'bear.' When 'bear' is used to mean 'carry' or 'tolerate,' and a past participle is required, it is spelled 'borne,' as in, "Jane has borne all her troubles very patiently."

2 — in a sugar mill
A sugar mill is a building or group of buildings where plants such as sugar cane are 'ground' into small pieces and 'processed' in other ways in order to make 'granular' sugar — sugar made up of small hard pieces (or 'grains') for use in cooking etc. The word 'mill' is also used to refer to small machines, such as 'pepper mills' that are used for grinding work in kitchens.
• 'Mill' can also be used as a verb, but it is common now only in the
phrasal verbs 'mill around' and 'mill about,' used to refer, metaphorically, to the unorganized movements of a group of people, as in "Jack and Jill walked quickly through the large crowd that was milling around at the entrance to the restaurant."

3 — he was admitted to the Indian Institute of Technology
• This means approximately the same thing as "He was allowed to become a student at the Indian Institute of Technology."
• The verb here is the
prepositional verb, 'admit (to)' — which has a very different meaning from the
transitive verb, 'admit,' which means 'to agree that you have done something wrong' — and which is normally complemented with a 'that'- clause.
A noun form, 'admittance' is also used in the clausal verb, 'gain admittance to,' as in, "When they visited the castle, Sarah and Jack were not able to gain admittance to the library.")

4 — the first person from Shapur ever to do this
'To do this' is a 'to'-infinitive adjective clause. It is used here as replacement for the standard adjective clause, 'who did this.'
• 'To'-infinitive adjective clauses are normal in this sort of
context. For example, in the paired story, "Eric Weihenmeyer," the following sentence appears, "He was the first blind person to do this." (In other words: "Eric Weihenmeyer was the first blind person to climb Mount Everest.")

5 — the most prestigious technical school in the country
'Prestigious' is the adjectival form of 'prestige.' A prestigious school is a school that 'has prestige.' When we say that something has prestige, we are saying that people in general believe the school is very good and, — most important — that it is where rich and powerful people would like their children to study.
• The word 'prestige' is connected to the word, 'reputation.' A prestigious school is one with a special kind of good reputation.)

6 — a highly-paid job with a corporation
A corporation is a business with special rights given to it by law. According to law, corporations are separate from the people who own them. They are thought of as a special kind of 'person' that can, for example, have debts or be sued. The people who own corporations have 'limited liability.' This means, for one thing, that if a corporation has debts, the individual owners are responsible only for the amount of money that they put into the corporation.
• Although corporations can be of any size, the word is usually used to refer to
very large businesses.
• The adjectival form of 'corporation' is 'corporate.'

7 — he took and passed the exams
'Taking' an exam means 'writing' (or 'doing') the exam. 'Passing' an exam means 'succeeding' in the exam.
• The word to use, if you
don't succeed in an exam, is 'fail.'
• Students of English often make the mistake of saying they are going to 'pass' an exam when, what they want to say is that they are going to 'take' it. Here is an example that might be worth memorizing: "After she took the exam, Jane was sure she had passed, but the next day she discovered that she'd failed."

8 — in charge of public building projects
In charge of' is a set prepositional phrase.
Someone who is 'in charge of' something, is 'responsible' for that thing. In other words, it is their 'duty' to do it, look after it, etc. (Often this responsiblity has been given officially to that person, but this is not always the case: one person in a family can be 'in charge of' cooking the meals, for example.)
• Notice that, in the text, it is a government department, not a person, that is 'in charge of' building projects.
• Notice that the prepositional phrase 'in charge' can be used by itself without any
complementation (and without the preposition 'of') in sentences like, "When he first started to work in the office, Jack didn't realize that Jill was in charge."

9 — the capital city, Delhi
• The 'capital' of a country or part of a country is the city where the government is located.
• In the text, the word 'capital' is used as a
noun-modifier, modifying the word 'city,' but it would have been equally correct to say 'the capital, Delhi' or simply 'the capital.'
• The English word, 'capital' comes from the
Latin word 'caput' meaning 'head.'

10 — private contractors
In this context, 'private' means 'privately owned.' In other words, the work on the highway was being done by ordinary, profit-making businesses. The government was only paying for the work, organizing it, and supervising it.

11 — he conscientiously checked
'Conscientiously' is the adverb form of 'conscience.' Your 'conscience' — as we think — is the part of your mind that tells you whether it is right or wrong to do something. When you do something 'conscientiously,' you do it because your conscience 'tells' you to. (The adjective form is 'conscientious.')

12 — Satyendra first encountered corruption
In this context, 'encounter' has the meaning of 'experienced' or 'came into contact with.'
When we speak of two people 'encountering' each other, 'encounter' has approximately the same meaning as 'meet' but it has special nuances: we only say we 'encounter' someone if we meet them by chance, not when we have arranged to meet them. Also, when we say that two people 'encounter' each other, we are suggesting that there was something unfriendly or at least unpleasant about that event.
• In the text, however, Satyendra does not 'encounter' a person but an activity, a type of behaviour. In this context, 'encounter' is much more appropriate than 'meet' , because 'meet' would suggest that we are talking about something that happens between

13 — corruption...bribe
'Corruption' is dishonest behaviour by government officials or other people in authority. It is the noun form of 'corrupt' which is both a verb and an adjective.
Usually a 'corrupt' person is influenced by a 'bribe' — money or some other reward that is offered to them by someone who wants something — a contract for example — which they cannot get in the proper, legal way.

14 — he was completely disillusioned
Someone is 'disillusioned' if they have lost their 'illuions.' Illusions are false beliefs — epecially beliefs about the goodness or honesty of other people, or the amount of justice and fairness in society.
• For example, s
omeone who believes that other people are mostly honest and that society is generally fair and then later comes to believe that people are not mostly honest and that society is not generally fair, has become 'disillusioned.'

15 — a strict system of bidding
'Bid' can be used as a noun or a verb. The clausal verb, 'make a bid' is also common.
• When a government or a corporation wants to make a contract, it is common for them to ask for 'bids.' The companies that bid for the job describe how they are going to do the work and say how much it will cost. The job will be given to the company that makes the lowest bid (as long as they make it clear that they will do the job well) this practice of 'competitive bidding' is especially important if contractors are being hired by a
government. The work will be paid for with the people's taxes, and it is important for a government to be able to show that it is not wasting public money.

16 — contracts were awarded
'Award' is the correct verb to describe what happens when, after bids have been made, one of the bidding companies gets a 'contract.' This is not so much because 'award' has a specially appropriate meaning but because there is a custom of using the two words together — as a verb-object pair.
•The connection between 'contract' and 'award' is a good example of a
There would be nothing ungrammatical or unclear in speaking of 'giving' or 'granting' a contract, but those ways speaking would probably sound strange to a native speaker. Advanced learners who want to speak and write English more naturally should try to learn as many collocations as possible.
• Although it is correct to speak of 'awarding' contracts, it is quite formal language. It is also correct, and less formal to say that a company 'gets' a contract.

17 — but despite that
'Despite' is a preposition indicating a contrast between its object and something else. In the text, the object of 'despite' is the pronoun, 'that'. 'Despite' is used to indicate a contrast between the sort of companies that were supposed to be doing the work and those that were actually doing it.
• 'Despite' can take a
noun phrase as its object,n as in "Despite her sore feet Jill walked all day," or an 'ing'-clause as in "Despite walking all day, Jill did not have sore feet.." 'Despite' can also be combined with 'the fact that' to form a sort of conjunction as in "Despite the fact that she had been walking all day, Jill danced until dawn." (Here, 'despite the fact that' has approximately the same meaning as 'although.')

18 — forged documents
The verb 'forge' means to write something — an official document, or a signature — without having the authority to do so. For example, "Harry stole all Jane's money by forging her signature on several cheques."
• The
noun form of 'forge' is 'forgery.'

19 — involved in the corruption
'Be/get involved in' is a set passive. To say that the National Highways Authority was 'involved in' the corruption is approximately the same as saying they were 'participating' in the corruption. But it is more natural to say 'involved in' because that verb is quite strongly collocated with 'corruption.'
• 'Be/get involved in' is often used when the activity is — or is thought to be — illegal or immoral as in "Jack told Harry he didn't want to get involved in anything that was against the law."
• As well as being a set passive 'be/get involved in' is also a
prepositional verb. There is another set passive prepositional verb 'be/get involved with' which is usually used to describe a romantic and sexual relationship. When this verb is used, there is a strong suggestion that the connection is immoral or at least dangerous. For example: "Jane was in love with Dick, but she didn't want to get involved with him because he had a wife and four children."
• There is an ordinary transitive verb, 'involve' which has a similar meaning to 'led to' or 'include.' For example, "When Sarah agreed to do the job, she didn't realize how much work it would involve."

20 — do his duty
'Do your duty' is a clausal verb. In other words because 'duty' is the object of 'do,' it must be seen as a clause, but at the same time it has a single meaning in the same way single-word verbs do.
• A person's duty is what he or she must do because it is right. We ususally use the verb to describe a situation like the one in the text where someone does what they know is right even though they know it is dangerous.

21 — he had to become a whistle blower
A 'whistle blower' is a person who sees that their employer is doing something wrong (immoral or illegal) and reports this to the government, the police, the newspapers, or to some other authority. Whistle blowers do this even though they know they may be fired or harmed in some other way.
• 'Word.net' gives the following example sentence: "The whistle blower was fired for exposing the conditions in mental hospitals."
• There is a connected
clausal verb, 'to blow the whistle on someone,' as, for example in: "Jack was fired because he blew the whistle on Tom and Dick." It seems that this verb is a metaphor based on a comparison with a referee blowing a whistle to stop a game because one of the players has broken a rule. The verb apparently dates back to the 1930s, but the compound noun, 'whistle blower,' dates back only to the 1970s.
•Sometimes the noun is spelled as one word, 'whistleblower,' and sometimes it is
hyphenated, 'whistle-blower.'

22 — he knew there was a risk
To say there is a 'risk' means there is a possibility of something bad happening. 'Risk' is commonly used both as a verb and as a noun.
• The noun 'risk' can be
complemented with a 'that'-clause as in the text or, for example, in "Dinah knew that there was a risk that the drug she was taking would cause psychological problems"
•'Risk' is also, often complemented with an 'of'-phrase containing an
'ing'-clause. For example, "Tom told Sarah that there was a risk of her damaging her hair with dye."
• The verb 'risk' is complemented with an
ing-clause' as in, "Jane realized that by making that move she risked losing the game," or "Tom was willing to risk losing a lot of money with his investment because he knew that he also had a chance of getting rich."
• There are also two important
clausal verbs, which have more or less the same meaning, 'take a/the risk' and 'run a/the risk.' For example, "Jill told Jane if she went into that part of the city by herself, she ran the risk of getting robbed," or "Harry refused Dick's offer, saying that he didn't want to take the risk."
•There is also an
adjective form, 'risky' as in, "Jill knew that her behaviour at the party was risky, but she was too drunk to care." And there is an adjective phrase, 'at risk', as in "Tom's whole career was at risk because he told the truth to his boss." (The adjective 'risky' is used to modify nouns that refer to behaviour and 'at risk' is used to modify nouns, noun phrases or noun clauses — normally referring to 'things' that may be lost through risky behaviour.)

23 — reprimanding him for breaking the rules
• To 'reprimand' someone means to tell them that they have done something wrong — and to tell them this in order to prevent them from doing it again. It is quite formal, and is usually used in an official context — for example, when a higher level military person 'reprimands' someone at a lower level, or when a school administrator 'reprimands' a teacher.' Often, there is an implication that if the person being 'reprimanded' behaves badly in the future, they will be punished.
• 'Reprimand' is a
ditransitive prepositional verb — 'reprimand [someone] for [something]. In the sentence in the text , the indirect object is 'him' and the prepositional object is 'breaking the rules by communicating directly with the Prime Minister.'
• Other quite formal verbs with a similar meaing are 'admonish,' 'reprove,' and 'rebuke.' 'Reproach' is not official, but still quite formal. 'Scold' is unofficial and quite informal. 'Tell off' and 'bawl out' are very informal
separable phrasal verbs with a similar meaning.

24 — the project was as successful as possible
This is an example of the grammatical structure: ['as' + [adjective/adverb] + 'as' + 'possible']. To say that Satyendra wanted the project to be 'as successful as possible' means that he didn't want there to be any problems that could be avoided. To take another example, to say that you're working 'as quickly as possible,' means that you could not work any more quickly than you are working. In other words, you are saying that you are not wasting any time or working inefficiently.

25 — a rickshaw driver
A 'rickshaw' is a two-wheeled cart pulled by a human being and used as a taxi.
The etymology of the word 'rickshaw' is interesting. It is an abbreviation of 'jinricksha' which comes from a Japanese word — which itself come from three old Chinese words: 'jin' (man), 'li' (strength), and 'sha' (vehicle.)

26 — came forward
'Come forward' is an intransitive phrasal verb. It is often used to describe a situation in which someone who has information about a crime or other troubling event gives that information to the police or to another authority. In such cases, there is sometimes an implication that the person 'coming forward' shows courage or unselfishness in doing so.
• Here is a slightly-adapted sentence from
SARA in which the verb is used in this way:
"The police are asking people who saw the van being parked to come forward."