Stuart Cook's Posts

4 phrasal verbs with “look”

4 phrasal verbs with “look”

Phrasal verbs are tough to learn. There are so many of them! And phrasal verbs can also be confusing – from just one verb we often have several phrasal verbs, all with different meanings. Take put as an example – there’s put up, put off, put out . . . and many, many more. I’ve chosen phrasal verbs with look for this post. But instead of giving you a long list, I’ll ex... »

Confusing words: high vs. tall

Confusing words: high vs. tall

We use tall to say that something is above average height. High means ‘having a large distance from top to bottom’ or ‘a long way above the ground’. We often use high when we speak about inanimate things (non-living things). If you’re not sure whether the adjective you need is high or tall, try thinking about the overall size of the object: We use tall mainly for thin... »

How to spell: words ending in -ly, -ely and -lly

How to spell: words ending in -ly, -ely and -lly

Do you ever have problems spelling words ending in -ly? If you do, you’re not alone. Adverbs such as definitely, probably, absolutely, likely, reasonably and hopefully often cause problems when it comes to spelling. We often ask ourselves the same questions: Is it -ly or -lly? Do we write -ely, or just -ly? Normally we just add -ly to an adjective to get the adverb: quick becomes quickly, da... »

Confusing words: rubbish, trash, garbage

Confusing words: rubbish, trash, garbage

In this post I’m going to talk rubbish. Does that mean I’ll be talking nonsense? No, actually I’m going to look at vocabulary connected to rubbish in the sense of household waste, including synonyms and related words. So, rubbish is the stuff that we throw out of our homes. You may also have heard other words for the same thing: garbage, refuse, trash, litter, as well as words li... »

“Can I” or “May I”? Which should we use?

When we ask for, give, and refuse permission, the words we most often use are can and can’t: Can I speak to Dave Williams, please? You can help yourselves to tea and coffee. I’m sorry, you can’t smoke here. You’ve probably also heard may used in requests and when giving/refusing permission: May I take a message? Passengers may not leave the airport while waiting for a connecting flight... »

Apostrophe s = is or has infographic

It’s = “it is” or “it has”: how to tell the difference

The short form of it is is it’s. But it’s can also mean it has. Likewise, he’s can mean either he is or he has. The problem is this: How do we know whether the writer means it is or it has, or he is or he has? The trick is to look at what follows the ’s: When followed by an adjective or adverb ’s = is. adjectives = tall, young, hungry adverbs = here, there, etc. She’s tired today. (she’s = s... »

Dynamic verbs for describing a graph and making a clear presentation

Here’s a short but informative video explaining which verbs we can use in sales and marketing presentations to describe degrees of change in graphs. The video was posted on Youtube by Roxana Pascariu, an English teacher from Romania. Roxana avoids the usual—and, frankly, rather dull—verbs go up and go down. Instead she uses verbs such as rise, fall and plummet. She also explains how we can follow ... »

Build your English vocabulary: 10 alternative words for “thing”

The word thing is ubiquitous, i.e. it’s everywhere. A good thing, a bad thing, many things, something, anything, everything; we use the word a lot. And the reason thing is such a common word? Well, it’s a short and quick substitute that we can easily insert into a sentence when we’re unable to think of—or don’t know—the word we need. So how can we better express ourselves by replacing thing ... »

Eggheads, couch potatoes, tough cookies: eight English food idioms

The number of categories for English idioms is seemingly endless. We have weather idioms, where we might hear that it’s raining cats and dogs; colour idioms (such as ‘green as the grass’ or ‘blue in the face’); animal idioms; money idioms … the list goes on. Food, being as popular as it is, also provides its fair share of idioms. The big cheese and the top banan... »

Chips vs. fries: the top 5 differences between American and British food vocabulary

Chips vs. fries: the top 5 differences between American and British food vocabulary

In most cases Americans and Britons have the same words for speaking about food. A steak is a steak, apples are apples, and potatoes are potatoes. Most of the time it doesn’t matter which side of the Atlantic you’re on – you’ll be understood when you order your food and buy your groceries. But watch out – sometimes there are differences. Let’s look at the most c... »

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