Tim Bowen's weekly additions to Your English are sure to stand the test of time as invaluable reference materials for teachers.

During a recent incident involving a helicopter flying to a North Sea oil platform, a number of ships were said to be standing by (ready for action). You can also stand by a person (remain loyal to them) as in 'We knew they would stand by us no matter what we had done' or you can stand by a claim (continue to believe it) as in a recent news report which stated that 'The Minister is standing by his claim that he has done nothing wrong’. Shortly after this, the Minister in question was forced to stand down (leave his position), despite his protests that he was simply standing up for (defending) his beliefs. Until a permanent replacement can be found, his deputy is standing in for him (doing his job on a temporary basis).

Some people dislike politicians and everything they stand for (the principles they believe in or represent) but, to be fair, there are some politicians who stand out for their skill and intelligence (are easy to notice because they are different). For some people, not much stands between them and fame or greatness (prevents them from achieving it). But sometimes it’s necessary to stand back and assess the situation (not become involved so that you can think about things more clearly). It’s hard to do that if someone is standing over you (watching you while you are doing something), especially if they think you are just standing around (doing nothing). Sometimes you have to stand up to people in authority (not allow yourself to be treated badly) and stand up for yourself (defend yourself). Finally, for some people, the worst thing that can happen is when they arrange to meet someone for a date but that person stands them up (fails to arrive).