Stuart Cook's Posts

Pies and pie idioms

Pies and pie idioms

Apple pie, meat pie . . . Pies are popular in British cuisine: we eat apple pies, mince pies, chicken and mushroom pies, and many other kinds. We have them during the day; we can have them for dinner. We eat them alone; we eat them with side dishes. The pie tradition goes back a long way and I suppose that explains why we have so many idioms centred around pies. We’ll have a look at five of ... »

Spend time/money on

Spend time/money on

We use the preposition on when we talk about spending time or money. We say spend money on something and spend time on something. In the US, it is common to replace on with for: spend money for something. Spend on: examples Notice how on is followed by a noun in each example: Political parties spend millions on their campaigns. The school spent its annual budget on computers and technology. My dau... »

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... »

Hanged vs. hung – not the same!

Hanged vs. hung – not the same!

The verb hang can be a bit tricky to use correctly. What we need to remember is that hang actually has two meanings. And the problem is that each meaning has its own past tense form. Hanging a picture Let’s begin with the meaning of hang which has hung as its past simple and past participle forms: hang, hung, hung. The meaning of this form is “to fasten or fix something at the top, lea... »

“In time”, “on time”: difference

“In time”, “on time”: difference

On time We use on time to say that something happened ‘exactly at the planned time’. We use it when speaking about timetables and arrangements. On time suggests that something or someone is neither late nor early. I want to start the meeting on time so please don’t be late. The films at this cinema never start on time – they always start late because of all the advertisemen... »

Confusing words: forget, leave

Confusing words: forget, leave

We use forget something and leave something differently. Here are the important differences that English learners need to know: Forget something We use forget something to say that we accidentally left something behind. We don’t say where. I’ve forgotten my phone – I’ll have to go back home for it. He got wet because he forgot his waterproof jacket. Leave something We use l... »

Short BBC video news reports to improve vocabulary, listening skills

Here’s our tip for using news reports to increase your English vocabulary. You’ll improve your listening skills at the same time. You may have already used news websites to help improve your English. The problem with this is that news stories are mostly NOT designed for non-native speakers. They’re often long and the vocabulary is difficult. The reporter speaks too quickly or has... »

Using “it” with phrasal verbs

Many verbs are made up of two parts: a verb and an adverb. These verbs are called phrasal verbs. Examples of phrasal verbs include throw away, put in, give up and wake up. One tricky thing when using phrasal verbs is knowing where to put the object of the verb. Do we put it directly after the verb? Should it go after the verb and the adverb? To show you what I mean, let’s use the verb plug i... »

Prepositions with make: “made of”, “made from”

Prepositions with make: “made of”, “made from”

Is made To talk about types of material or to say what something consists of, we often use is made, which is the passive form of make. There are a few different prepositions commonly used after is made, each expressing something slightly different. First, let’s look at the difference between of and from, i.e. is made of versus is made from. Made of We use made of to speak about material: Lego is m... »

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,... »

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