Monday, November 26

Basic Law Words

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Today we’re going to learn a set of words that's a little different from the usual.

First of all, do you remember our previous lesson on the word “Blame?”

If you still haven’t read it or if you've already forgotten, try to refresh your memory by visiting that topic first, then come back here.

Just click this link: 

Like I said, our target words for today are different from the usual.

They are:

suspect, accuse, charge, and arrest

Why? What makes these different from other words?

Well, although the word “Suspect” is also used to talk about average, everyday situations:

Ex. I suspect that it will rain.

often it can have this meaning: 

You believe that a person is guilty of a crime.

The same is true with the other words that we have today: “Accuse,” "Charge,” and “Arrest.” All of them talk about crime and law.

On the other hand, the word “Blame” cannot have this kind of meaning.

Please compare:

(1)    I suspected him of stealing the bag. = Ok

(2)    I blamed him for stealing the bag. = X

This is why we can hear our 4 words in news reports about criminal and legal matters – or cases that involve the police and the law.


  • Suspect = to believe that a person is guilty of a crime

  • Accuse = to say that a person has committed a crime

  • Charge = to say officially that a person has committed a crime 

  • Arrest = (of the police) to take a person to a police station because they believe he or she has committed a crime 

How to Use in a Sentence

Step # 1: You have to remember that our 4 words are used with Prepositions. And take note: not just any Preposition is Ok. We have to remember the exact Preposition that matches the Verb.

Just like what we studied in our lesson on “Blame,”

Blame + for

the formulas for our 4 topic words today are:

Suspect + of

Accuse + of

Charge + with

Arrest + for

Like I said, you have to remember the correct Preposition and not mix them up. Don’t use a different Preposition because it won’t match the Verb.

*Note: In the case of “Arrest,” other Preposition Phrases are also possible:

Arrest + for

Arrest + in connection with

Arrest + on charges of

Arrest + on suspicion of

But it would be better for a learner like you to concentrate on practicing the first one: the Preposition for” together with “Arrest.”

Step # 2:  Don’t forget to add an Object after our 4 words.

Like this:

Suspect + somebody + of

Accuse + somebody + of

Charge + somebody + with

Arrest + somebody + for

Why? This is because the 4 words above are very often Transitive Verbs. So they need an Object (somebody) after them.

But what about on TV? You might ask. Perhaps in a news report you’ve heard these 4 words used without Objects.

Actually, they still have Objects in news reports. But they're all being used in the Passive structure.

Take a look:

                            Active                                   Passive

The police suspected him of robbery. = He was suspected of robbery.

The police accused him of robbery. = He was accused of robbery.

The police charged him with robbery. = He was charged with robbery.

The police arrested him for robbery. = He was arrested for robbery.

As you can see in our examples above, there’s still an Object in all our sentences (the Object is “He”). But because the sentence pattern is Passive, the Object moves to the beginning of the sentence and becomes a Subject.

The Passive structure is a very common sentence pattern in news reports, so please familiarize yourself with our examples.

Here are more Passive sentences:

They were suspected of murder.

Michael Jackson was accused of child molestation.

I was charged with drug possession.

He was arrested for domestic violence.

All our examples are followed by Nouns (murder, child molestation, drug possession, and domestic violence).

But because we're using Prepositions, we can also put Gerunds or V+ing after them:

She was suspected of stealing all the data.

We were accused of uploading illegal content.

You are charged with speeding.

I will be arrested for drink driving.


There are many other terms you need to learn if you want to know legal English (or legalese). This is a whole new set of expressions used in legal situations, and government and official documents. This English is often the kind used by lawyers especially.

The few words above are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

Other examples of legal English include Terms and Conditions, Disclaimer, and Data Use Policy. They’re the seemingly obscure documents full of specialized, high-level words that you get from websites and other apps. 

(I hope you don’t just click "Agree" to them all without reading because it’s important that you understand their content first.)

This is Facebook's Data Use Policy 

In addition, you can see legal English in the contract that you get when you enter a new company, buy or rent an apartment, etc.

So, I hope you’re interested in learning more English terms for legal matters, and that you’ll keep studying higher-level words.

Hope you learned something!

Keep on learning !

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