December 29, 2012

Weekly Finds: December 29, 2012

A Man With Magnifying Glass by digitalart
Image courtesy of digitalart /

Every week, we’ll be sharing a list of posts, stories, news, or opinions that we've run across the Internet during the past week or two. We won't be discussing them in detail here, but we do encourage you to check them out as they could contain valuable ideas and insights for your IELTS exam.

If you're ready, here we go...


ENGLISH QUIZ: Test your tenses!

Answer these questions and find out just how good you are with the use of tenses in English!


13 Little-Known Punctuation Marks We Should Be Using

Because sometimes periods, commas, colons, semi-colons, dashes, hyphens, apostrophes, question marks, exclamation points, quotation marks, brackets, parentheses, braces, and ellipses won’t do.


What's the rule: Use one space or two spaces after a period? The author provides the answer.

Grammar Practice Sheets: Apostrophes, Quotation Marks and Underlining (and others)

The author shares practice activities on punctuation. Check them out.


Want to Read Faster? Stop Saying The Words in Your Head As You Read

When you read, do you hear the words in your mind or even subconsciously say them under your breath? Break this one habit, called subvocalization, and you can double or even triple your reading speed.


Your Brain Can Fool You Into Hating Something You Actually Like

Our brains love playing tricks on us, and the results can be detrimental. Because of how we remember certain events, even a good experience can be recalled as an awful one because of one little problem.

Top 10 Ways to Make Yourself Look (and Be) Smarter

Whether you're trying to survive an intensive college schedule or just want to seem smarter in front of your friends, you can do a lot of things to both look and be smarter. Here are ten simple tricks for boosting your real (and perceived) brain power.

Humor for writers – A dangerous book …

There was once a mild-mannered man who read a book of assertiveness. Learn what happened after he put the tips into use.

19 Ways to Bounce Back from Just About Anything

Want to bounce back better and faster when life hits you with unexpected surprises? Here’s a quick list of some of the most useful tips to get back on your feet.

Language Learning Makes the Brain Grow, Swedish Study Suggests

At the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy, young recruits learn a new language at a very fast pace. By measuring their brains before and after the language training, a group of researchers has had an almost unique opportunity to observe what happens to the brain when we learn a new language in a short period of time.

The curious imperative

Now that information is ubiquitous, the obligation changes. It's no longer okay to not know.


Communicating without words

It turns out that your body language also shapes who you are (not just how others feel about you, but how you feel about yourself)...


4 Tools for Building Academic Vocabulary

Technology is an effective and engaging tool that can be used to improve vocabulary acquisition for all learners.

50 Nautical Terms in General Use

The vocabulary of sailing has enriched the English language with the development, by analogy, of new senses for nautical terms. Here are fifty such words with their original meanings and their landlubber connotations.

“Bring” vs. “Take” differences in UK and American English

Both are about moving something. Do note the differences though.

Immigrate, Emigrate, Migrate

These three words look similar and have similar meanings. The author explains the meanings and differences between these three commonly mixed-up words.

Phrasal verbs with live

Here is a list of phrasal verbs using the word live. Each phrasal verb is followed by its definition and example sentences.



How to curb your addiction to commas.

3 Types of Accidental Writing to Avoid

Alliteration, punning, and rhyming are a trio of tried-and-true techniques for letting your prose out of the pen, introducing levity (perhaps at the expense of brevity). When inadvertently applied, however, they can distract readers because their use is inconsistent with a writer’s tone, or because the application is excessive. Here are some comments about proper and improper use of these writers’ tools.

Signposts in academic writing

Signposts in academic writing are as important as grammar and vocabulary! In western academic writing the reader is guided carefully through an argument. Nothing is a surprise when you are reading an academic text! International students who are writing at university need to be aware of signposts.

December 22, 2012

Weekly Finds: December 22, 2012

A Man With Magnifying Glass by digitalart
Image courtesy of digitalart /

Every week, we’ll be sharing a list of posts, stories, news, or opinions that we've run across the Internet during the past week or two. We won't be discussing them in detail here, but we do encourage you to check them out as they could contain valuable ideas and insights for your IELTS exam.

If you're ready, here we go...


How to correct 90 percent of grammar mistakes with a single piece of jewelry.

This real necklace is an efficient, subtle new way to tell the world your you're tired of its lazy attitude toward the English language, without even having to speak it.

The Verb To Do

The verb to do is another common verb in English. It can be used as an auxiliary and a main verb. It is often used in questions.

Question Tags in English

Guide to the use of question tags in English for ESL and EFL learners. Question tags are explained including variations on meaning through pronunciation, as well as examples of question tags in a variety of tenses.

Comparative and superlative adjectives

This are very handy tools for your writing and speaking exam.

Funner Grammar

The author shares his thoughts on the word "funner."

The Fundamentals of Verbs

This post outlines the basic principles of the verb, the workhorse of language.

Past Perfect – English Grammar

The past perfect is “the past before the past.” You can use it to talk about an event that happened before another event in the past. The past perfect is formed with: had + past participle.

Use of That

Sometimes it's OK to omit the word 'that'; sometimes it isn't. Read this post to learn more.

Poor grammar, not accents, lead to misunderstanding

A new study suggests grammar and vocabulary, not pronunciation, are key to effective oral communication.

We were stood at the bar talking about continuous tenses. . .

The author asks whether there is a decline and fall in the use of continuous tenses.

Prepositions of Time in English

Learn the difference between on, in, at, before, ago, after, later, by, until, and other prepositions of time in English.


Punctuation pet peeves, and more

The author shares her top 4 punctuation pet peeves; plus good reads from Amy Wallace, and more.

Colons: Don’t Let Them Be a Pain in Your Ass

Here are the latest, greatest rules about colons from Grammar Girl and CMS 16 (that’s the sixteenth edition of the Chicago Manual of Style for those of you who aren’t in the know) about COLONS.

The Evolution of the Emoticon

Who uses the nosed and the noseless varieties of emoticons?


Your Body Language Speaks for You in Meetings

You have to mind how you talk to people at least as much as what you say to them.


We all want our presentations to go well, but often times there are barriers that get in the way of us reaching our presentation destination from fear to self-limiting beliefs.

Five Keys to Using the Power of Your Voice for Public Speaking Success

Your voice is a powerful tool in creating the success of your speeches and presentations. Just on its own, it can make or break your public speaking. Use these five tips to learn how to harness the power of your voice.


Don't Be An Idiom: Explaining "Three Sheets to the Wind"

The author started the first in an ongoing series of pieces that will attempt to explain where some of the phrases we frequently use first originated.

Words matter: illegal or undocumented?

The connotations between the two words are vast.

Grammar Gremlins: Some words sow confusion

The words "myriad" and "enamored" can cause confusion because we hear and see them used two ways.

New words, new concerns: Changes in language reflect the post-recession economy

Recent additions to the dictionary reflect many of the changes brought by the Recession.

The Importance of Building Your Vocabulary (And 5 Easy Steps to Doing It)

The authors talk about removing another kind of filler from our speech (and our writing as well): empty words. They believe that just like empty calories have the form of food but offer no nourishment to the eater, empty words take the form of verbiage, but offer no substance to the listener – leaving them hungry for meaning and details.

Fear of having no mobile phone rises

What does 'nomophobia' mean?

Don't forget the words... keep your vocab muscles strong

The author suggests 3 things: Read, write, and rehearse.


Confessions of an English Tutor: The Two Writing Errors EVERYBODY Makes

The author shares that everywhere she looked people were making the same mistakes with regard to run-ons and fragments.

December 15, 2012

Weekly Finds: December 15, 2012

A Man With Magnifying Glass by digitalart
Image courtesy of digitalart /

Every week, we’ll be sharing a list of posts, stories, news, or opinions that we've run across the Internet during the past week or two. We won't be discussing them in detail here, but we do encourage you to check them out as they could contain valuable ideas and insights for your IELTS exam.

If you're ready, here we go...


Irregular verbs, dialects, and sockpuppets

The author shares his thoughts with regard to three posts at the Macmillan Dictionary Blog.

It’s All Grammar—So What?

The author shares his thoughts on the various definitions of grammar.

Knowing a language

If you say that you 'know' a particular language, what does that mean to you?

5 ways to eliminate prepositions

This guide can help you minimize their presence and strengthen your writing.

40 Pinterest Pins for Proud Grammar Nerds

While Pinterest may more often be used to collect inspiration for DIY projects and drool over insanely expensive couture, it is also an excellent resource for getting nerdy about grammar.


Do babies speak with an accent?

For a long time scientists presumed that infants' brains could not process sounds at all, but that's not true.

4 Qualities of Amazing Public Speakers

Want to become a great speaker? Develop these four essential qualities, and you'll be able to influence, inspire, and make a meaningful impact on your audience.

How to Use Quotes in Your Speech: 8 Benefits and 21 Tips

8 benefits of using quotations in your speech, and 21 tips for superpowering your presentations with effective quotes.


Literacy, Do We Need it Today?

The author discusses the benefits of being literate.

3 Keys To Full Potential Living

Begin - Believe - Become

Level Up Your Knowledge with These 6 Excellent Websites

Have you known a knowledgeable friend and wish you could be like them? Check out the 6 great websites that will boost your knowledge within 7 days!

300+ Educational Twitter Hashtags Being Used Right Now

There’s a Google Doc available to the public from Chiew Pang that lets you help build a useful database of helpful hashtags.

Ramp Up Your Writing Skills – Six Resources for Word Nerds

The author shares some resources for our grammar skills.

Ten Daily Habits That Make a (Good) Writer

The author shared an excerpt from A Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves.


English test No. 93280: Investigation

Learn new vocabulary on investigations.

10 Sets of Doublet Nouns

The store of nouns in English, just like that of English verbs, is enhanced by the language’s generosity in permitting adaptation of words from other tongues more than once. In the case of most of the word pairs listed [in the post], the terms were introduced at different periods of history, hence their slight differences in spelling.

The Ways in Which We Mistake Our Words

Misuses of words are fast and frequent and come in any number of varieties. They are not all the same. Here are a few of the most likely ways we confuse our words, with examples to learn from.

5 Archaic Food Words That Should Be Revived (Or That Would Make Great Restaurant Names)

The author shares 5 words that she'd like to see brought back into usage.

Finding Meaningful Vocabulary in Daily Activities

The opportunity to learn is everywhere! Yes, opening a dictionary and looking up definitions and reviewing synonyms is important- you can’t always expect to know the exact meaning of a word without ever looking it up- but the key to being able to communicate in English, or in any second language, is to know how words are used in context.

Etymology of Swag

Learn why the "swag" is a misunderstood word.

Is “legitimize” legitimate?

The story of how to legitimate became to legitimize.

Different Suffixes for Different Contexts

Many words derived from Latin have two (and occasionally three or more) possible plural forms. The distinction is usually between popular usage based on English plural endings grafted onto Latin terms and scientific or technical form based on a traditional reading of the original language. Here are discussions of alternatives for plural forms of six types of word endings.

Language tip of the week: maybe and perhaps

Here is some advice about using the adverbs maybe and perhaps.

How ‘Shrek’ Persuaded Me to Let the Words Fly

The author shares how "Shrek" author William Steig inspired her to use a more broad and extravagant vocabulary around her children.

Britishisms and the Britishisation of American English

There appears to be little that irks a British language pedant more than Americanisms entering the British vocabulary. But it is also happening the other way round.

December 8, 2012

Weekly Finds: December 8, 2012

A Man With Magnifying Glass by digitalart
Image courtesy of digitalart /

Every week, we’ll be sharing a list of posts, stories, news, or opinions that we've run across the Internet during the past week or two. We won't be discussing them in detail here, but we do encourage you to check them out as they could contain valuable ideas and insights for your IELTS exam.

If you're ready, here we go...


Changing Rules

The author expresses his dislike of word usages that have become acceptable just because they have become so common.

The Fundamentals of Nouns

Parts of speech serve our communication needs with hardly a conscious thought on our part, but they operate according to a complex, interdependent set of rules and procedures. Here are the basic principles of the noun.


Writers' Favorite Punctuation Marks

The author gathered some thoughts on punctuation favorites from a few of her favorite writers and word-minded folks around the web.

Humor for Writers - Punctuation Parable

The author shares 2 letters in the article and asks what percentage depends on punctuation.

4 Punctuation Marks for Forming Appositive Phrases

An appositive phrase extends a sentence by adding more information in apposition (meaning “related to” or “juxtaposed with”) to a word or phrase preceding it.

Hyphens and Dashes

Hyphens and dashes are two distinctly different punctuation marks and a proper understanding of each will avoid embarrassing mistakes in your writing.


5 Quick Hacks to Kill Your Excuses and Pursue Your Dreams

Making excuses is easy, but taking action is hard. The stars will never align and the conditions will never be perfect, so you might as well get started now.

How to Practice the Art of Detached Focus to Achieve Your Goals

Having the ability to decide at each moment what merits your attention is to me one of the secrets of success. It’s been proven time and again by sports stars and high achievers If there is something you want, fearlessly focusing on it will give you a much higher probability of achieving it.

Improve Your Memory with The Chunking Technique

Most of us are able to store only about four to seven different items in our short-term memory. One way to get past this limit is to use a technique called chunking.


Eight Tips to Decrease Public Speaking Anxiety

We could pick up valuable tips in this article for our IELTS Speaking exam.


Flew v. Flied

The author studied the number of incidents these words were used.

The astonishing life of “Wow!”

What is “wow” supposed to be? An expression of disbelief? Surprise? Awe?

The Longest Word in English (Pronounced)

The chemical name of titin has 189,819 letters.

The Whys and Hows of Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing, rewording of spoken or written content, is a necessary skill for every writer. This post discusses the purposes of process of paraphrasing.

Language Use Is Simpler Than Previously Thought, Study Suggests

For more than 50 years, language scientists have assumed that sentence structure is fundamentally hierarchical, made up of small parts in turn made of smaller parts, like Russian nesting dolls. A new Cornell study suggests language use is simpler than they had thought.

The Secret Lives Of Little Words

What's that word doing there? When it comes to spoken language, nothing is accidental. Linguists are working on finding meaning in every 'oh,' 'um,' 'well,' and 'okay.' The results might surprise you.

There’s a First World. There’s a Third World. Is There a Second World?

We often hear about the plights of the Third World, and most of us have our share of First World problems. But is there something in between—a Second World?

Wednesday Words: Touchception, Politico Hipsters and More

Time NewsFeed's weekly highlight of our vocabulary includes useful, new and surprising words (as well as some that are just fun to say)...

Eschewing Comfort Words in Legal Writing

Vice President Biden’s convention speech illustrated the problems comfort words pose to persuasive legal writing—literally.

When Did Yoda Start Writing CEO Speeches?

The "backloaded business sentence" must. Go. Away.

Classical Words of the Day

Improve your vocabulary with these classical words.

Vocabulary Word of the Day - Dunderhead

Did you know that “Dunderhead” is an actual word?

Vocabulary Test: Know Your Psychoses

It's amazing how loosely the terms in this post are used (and misused) in everyday writing and conversation. Take this vocabulary test.

Language Evolution in 50 Words

How did structure evolve in human language?

20 Words the English Language Borrowed from Others

The words in this post are 20 loanwords and phrases used in the English language that have undergone little or no modifications from the donor language.

December 1, 2012

Weekly Finds: December 1, 2012

A Man With Magnifying Glass by digitalart
Image courtesy of digitalart /

Every week, we’ll be sharing a list of posts, stories, news, or opinions that we've run across the Internet during the past week or two. We won't be discussing them in detail here, but we do encourage you to check them out as they could contain valuable ideas and insights for your IELTS exam.

If you're ready, here we go...


Individual discount rates and future reference in English

The author shares his thoughts on future time references.

4 Grammar Podcasts To Improve Your Language Usage

The author shares grammar and language podcasts he constantly listens to.

Grammar battle is unwinnable, but the fight goes on: James Gill

Interesting article about the use of "who" vs. "whom."

OMG! How NOT to write business web content

Guest Author Gini Dietrich of Spin Sucks discusses how poor spelling, grammar, and texting jargon are detrimental to both business and Web writing, however social.

Sentence Structure Chart: Positive, Negative and Questions in all 13 English Tenses

This sentence structure chart provides an overview of the thirteen present, past and future tenses including the continuous and perfect forms.

Participles & Participial Phrases

Learn how to correctly use them.

7 Ways Twitter Sharpens Your Writing

If you want a great tool, try Twitter for writers. This post will show you exactly how to user Twitter to sharpen your writing.

How to Use the Preposition On

The preposition 'on' has many uses in English. This post summarizes the uses of 'on' as a preposition and provides examples for each type of use.

Restrictive or Not—When Do Clauses Need Commas?

Learn to use commas correctly with restrictive or essential clauses. Non-essential and non-restrictive phrases and clauses typically get the commas.

English Lesson Prepositions with Time: On Time or In Time

Do you usually arrive at school or your office on time, in time, or just in time?

After, Before, When: Key Time Expressions used in Adverb Clauses

The time expressions after, before and when are used in adverb clauses to indicate when something occurs. This guide provides explanation of tense usage and context with numerous examples for in-class or self-study use.

Use Adverbs to Create Music for Your Readers' Ears

Sometimes the adverb is useful if only for its sound.


7 Movie-Title Mistakes

Check out some movie titles with grammar and punctuation errors.


Creating Success

The author argues why simply visualizing success is not enough.


Bill Clinton: Now, Listen to This!

Bill Clinton rocked the Democratic National Convention by explaining the country’s situation in a direct and conversational way. A look at The Atlantic Wire’s transcript of his speech shows how he drew his audience in.

How to tame your fears of public speaking

If you're one of those who get nervous when speaking, look at some strategies to help you manage your fears.


Exploring the Character of a Bad Word

The author gets to dissect a vulgarity in a linguistic way.

“Quash” vs. “squash”

The author answers this question: "Any comments on 'quash' vs. 'squash'? I rarely hear anyone use the former. The latter sounds gauche to me, even absurd, in a sentence like 'My boss squashed the rumor.' I would, however, accept 'The landlady squashed the roomer.'"

Origin of the Word Upset

In sports and in politics, an upset is to defeat a seemingly better opponent. The author discusses its usage and origin.

Can we please stop crowdsourcing the English language?

Does anyone know what all this oojamaflip that's been zhooshing up the Collins Dictionary actually means?

20 Synonyms for “Shortage”

There’s no shortage of synonyms for shortage, and though many of the terms are close in meaning, the variety of connotations is sufficient to merit this list.

Crowdsourcing the lexicon

Words have the meanings they do because people use them with those meanings.


Where did it come from?

Using Context Clues for Word Studies

This tip provides a sample lesson and a chart that can be used to teach students how to use context to understand an unknown word.

10 Most Beautiful French Words And Stories Behind Them

Take a look at the list.