About English

Choosing the correct preposition is not always easy (for anyone)

Choosing the correct preposition is not always easy (for anyone)

In a Youtube video I watched today, Macmillan Education give an example of how grammar traditionalists will often insist on a particular rule being hard and fast. Common usage, though, sometimes shows that their ‘rule’ is in fact NOT 100 per cent foolproof. (In case you’re wondering, Macmillan uses a list of words, phrases and references – a corpus – to ascertain common usage, or... »

What are the most common words with the suffix -hood?

What are the most common words with the suffix -hood?

In this post we’ll look at common words which contain the suffix –hood. A suffix is something we add to the end of an existing word to form a new word. In some cases, a word ending in –hood suggests a family role (motherhood, fatherhood). Other times it refers to a period of our life (childhood). There are also some –hood words that refer to neither family nor a period of our lif... »

Do we say “historic” or “historical”?

Do we say “historic” or “historical”?

Two words we often see used incorrectly – even among native English speakers – are historic and historical. And with good reason: they don’t have the same meaning and the difference is quite tricky to understand. It may well be that in your native language there is only one equivalent for historic and historical. I’ll have a go at explaining the difference. Historic – ‘full of hi... »

photo of dice

The singular of “dice” is “die”. Who says so?

Dice are small (often wooden or plastic) cubes. Each of the six sides has a different number of dots. Dice are used in board games of chance. The singular form of dice is die, or at least that’s the traditional view. And it’s what I’d use, too. I say: one die, two dice, three dice, etc. Not all authorities agree on this, however. The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary,... »

“Smoke-free” doesn’t mean “smoke freely”, and Russia gets a smoking ban

“Smoke-free” doesn’t mean “smoke freely”, and Russia gets a smoking ban

In the news recently there have been some interesting things about tobacco smoking. We’ve also had some questions about smoking in our English forum, so in this post I’ll be taking a look at some smoking-related words. Russian ban on smoking A BBC article last week announced that Russia is to ban smoking in public places. Over the next year or so it will become illegal to smoke in publ... »

What’s happening to the word “happen”?

What’s happening to the word happen? Well, things that shouldn’t be happening to it, it seems. Happen is a regular verb and one that most learners probably recognise quite early on in their English studies. There shouldn’t be any difficulties with happen but I very often hear it used incorrectly. One of the problems could be that happen is an active verb only, i.e. it doesn’... »

How to steal, rob and shoplift in English (a beginner’s guide)

Stealing is a common crime in many places – unfortunately. And just as there are many ways of stealing so English has a wide range of words to express these methods. Stealing (or theft) is all too often in the news. If you’re learning English – and want to understand the finer details of such news items – ‘stealing/theft’ vocabulary is therefore important. Here are th... »

British vs. American English: 10 different words you might not know the meaning of

On the whole, British and American speakers of English have very few problems understanding one another. Over the last half a century or so television and film have done much to familiarise Americans with British English (BrE) and Britons with American English (AmE). There are actually thousands of vocabulary differences between British and American English. While many of these words can be instan... »

Qualifiers: how to sound more polite in a business meeting

If you often attend meetings and negotiations as part of your job, you will know how important it is to avoid direct disagreement. A disagreement can occur if we make a very direct and simple statement to express what we’re thinking. Statements which are too direct can sound confrontational and as a result the person you’re negotiating with may be offended or get upset. Look at these v... »

2-nil and 3-3: how to say football scores in English

The Euro 2012 tournament in Ukraine and Poland has begun so now is an ideal time to look at how we speak about football scores in English. On television and radio the results are read in a straightforward way: England one, France one; Holland one, Germany two, etc. However, we use a different style when we speak informally about scores. Draws If the two teams have an equal number of goals at the e... »

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