Stuart Cook's Posts

8 uncountable nouns and common mistakes learners make when using them

8 uncountable nouns and common mistakes learners make when using them

Here’s a list of eight common uncountable nouns and some common mistakes learners make when using them. »

How to use: adjectives for probability

How to use: adjectives for probability

To speak about probability we can use adjectives such as probable, likely, possible and certain. It’s a short list, and one that learners can quite easily memorise and use. The opposites are easy to get too, simply by using prefixes: possible ⇒ impossible likely ⇒ unlikely probable ⇒ improbable. Scale of probability Let’s look at scale of probability, going from inevitable (meaning ... »

Prohibit and forbid: what’s the difference?

Prohibit and forbid: what’s the difference?

Prohibit and forbid: the same meaning, but . . . Prohibit and forbid have the same meaning, but we use them differently. Examples Children are forbidden to chew gum at school. The dissident was forbidden to leave China. Prisoners are prohibited from smoking in their cells. The restaurant is prohibited from selling or serving alcoholic beverages to customers for one month. From + -ing Don’t forget ... »

Forget something, leave something

Forget something, leave something

Forget or leave something? We use forget to say we accidentally left something behind. We usually say leave if we mention the place. Oh no! I’ve forgotten my book. Oh no! I’ve left my book at school. Nice and simple, eh? Photo: m01229 »

Idiom: to take something with a pinch of salt

Idiom: to take something with a pinch of salt

take something with a pinch of salt to not automatically believe something, not immediately assume that someone is telling the truth You should take what she says with a pinch of salt – she’s always exaggerating. Photo: PSC1121-GO »

How to tell if a word is countable or uncountable

How to tell if a word is countable or uncountable

This is one of my students. And he has a typical grammar problem: “Help – I don’t know if this word is countable or uncountable!” Actually, it’s not just one of my students – most of my students get confused over countable and uncountable nouns when they first meet them. Recognising if a word is countable or uncountable can be tricky. Here are two tips I usually give my stu... »

Idiom: to bite off more than you can chew

Idiom: to bite off more than you can chew

to bite off more than you can chew to undertake more than you can manage Dave really shouldn’t have taken out such a big mortgage. He’s really bitten off more than he can chew, I think. »

Idiom: an uphill task

Idiom: an uphill task

When something is an uphill task or an uphill struggle, it’s a difficult thing to do. This is usually because of obstacles put in your way by other people. When you face an uphill task, you feel that however hard you try, the task will not get any easier. Image: CatOrTwo Example The company is facing an uphill task in its efforts to expand into China. The Chinese authorities refuse to allow ... »

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... »

Fell or felt?

Fell or felt?

Fell and felt are past simple forms of two different verbs. They are often confused because they sound (and look) very similar. Fell is the past simple form of fall. fall ⇒ fell ⇒ fallen Here are some examples: All the fruit fell from the tree during the strong winds. He slipped from the roof and fell three metres to the ground. Paul and Jemma fell in love at first sight. Michael fell off his bicy... »

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