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.

November 24, 2012

Weekly Finds: November 24, 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...

Learning A New Skill – Not What You Expected?

If you’re learning a new skill, breaking a new habit, or simply trying to change yourself for the better, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen if you commit.

In Grammar, Possession is Less than Nine-Tenths of the Law

The author shares a good guide to avoid confusion on possessive punctuation.

The Life of a Cask From Wine to Whiskey

An infographic on the life of a cask, from wine to whiskey. Find out where casks start their life and see how Scotch is dependent on Sherry. This could be helpful for your describing a process or object in IELTS Writing.

The oddest English spellings, part 21: Phony from top to bottom

The author discusses spellings involving words with "ph."

Ten facts about the word ‘chocolate’

The author looks at ten facts relating to the word ‘chocolate’, and how that word has contributed to the English language.

Idioms Referring to Colors of the Rainbow

The six colors of the spectrum have contributed significantly to expressions and turns of phrase that are themselves often quite colorful. Here’s a sampling of idioms employing the words for colors.

A Listening procedure step by step.

The author discusses the basic framework for listening skills work that provides a step-by-step procedure for teachers and the opportunity for children to gain confidence through successful task completion.

26 Beatnik Slang Words and Phrases We Should All Start Using

Plenty of phrases from the first self-described hipster generation have lasted into modern conversation: people still get bent out of shape, annoying people bug us and muscular guys are still built, just to scan the b-words. Here are 26 words and phrases that don’t get much use today, but are worth sneaking into conversation.

10 Phrasal Verbs in Conversation

Learn 10 English phrasal verbs from examples of everyday conversations.

4 easy ways to practise your speaking confidence off the stage

Learn some practical ways to practice your speaking skills.


You don't have to let shyness cripple you. If you follow these three steps, you can start building your confidence today.

Presenting vocabulary

This article looks at what needs to be taught when teaching vocabulary and ways to present and teach vocabulary.

The Fallacy of Not Splitting the Infinitive

The author shares the tale of splitting infinitives.

Getting lectured by people who don’t know English

The author reacts to a comment on his old blog post that talked about "one of the only."

35 Fossil Words

Here is a list of some of our language’s fossil words with definitions and the idiomatic phrases in which they appear.

Why the Adverb Isn’t as Dead as Mark Twain Would Like

The author shares the view that writers need to be even more dedicated in stamping out the adverb.

Some / Any / No + Exercises

Learn how to use them. Check out the exercises.

Me, myself and I

Learn how to use them.

Body Language Mistakes: 5 Ways to Destroy Your Own Message

Body language can help give you presence and charisma. But it can also undermine your message. Learn 5 mistakes you should avoid!

My Best Advice for Becoming a Better Speaker is. . .

Like all the skills you now own, The Learning is in the Doing! If you want to be a writer - Write! If you want to be a piano player - Play the Piano! If you want to be a Speaker - Speak! - Speak! - Speak!

November 23, 2012

2013 IELTS Test Dates - IDP Philippines

Am I organized?
Photo credit: koalazymonkey on Flickr.


2014 IELTS Test Dates now posted. Read here.

The IDP Philippines has posted the 2013 IELTS Test dates on its Facebook Page.

A copy of the said schedule is posted here for reference. Regularly check and verify the schedules at the IDP Philippines website for any changes.


October to December 2013

August to October 2013

2013 IELTS Test Dates - IDPPhils - Aug-Oct

June to September 2013

2013 IELTS Test Dates - IDPPhils - Jun-Sep

2013 IELTS Test Dates - IDPPhils - Mar-Jun by HighPoint IELTS Preparation Services, Inc.

2013 IELTS Test Dates - IDPPhils - Jan-Apr

2013 IELTS Test Dates:

- British Council


November 17, 2012

Weekly Finds: November 17, 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...

Yes, people do judge you by your grammar

The authors share some of the common grammar errors that they've seen around their site, ActiveRain.

3Qs: Neologisms for the internet age

Northeastern University office asked Heather Lit­tle­field, asso­ciate aca­d­emic spe­cialist and head advisor of the lin­guis­tics pro­gram in the Col­lege of Sci­ence, to com­ment on our modern taste for dig­ital jargon.

Homophones, Homonyms, and Homographs

Find out what the differences and similarities are and pick up tips for remembering them.

Does ‘decimate’ really mean ‘destroy one tenth’?

The complaint about the word typically centers on the fact that decimate is used improperly to refer to ‘destroying a large portion of something’, when the ‘true’ meaning of the word is ‘to put to death (or punish) one of every ten’.

Proper Use of the Ellipses

The author discusses the proper use of the ellipses, along with a little insight as to where it's most commonly used.

The Serial Comma

Learn how to correctly use the serial comma.

Common Errors in English: Ask + Prepositions

Learn the difference between ask, ask for, ask to, and ask about - to avoid this common error in English with prepositions.


Read the author's discussion of the subjunctive mood.

If One Were to Use the Subjunctive Mood Properly

Here's another discussion on the subjunctive mood. This could be useful for Part 3 of the IELTS Speaking Exam.

Answering Students’ Grammar Questions: When Do I Use “All of the,” “All the,” or “All”?

Which is correct: all of the people, all the people, or all people?

Take Massive Action – Steps to Help You Achieve Excellent Results!

When you take little or no action, you will receive little or no results. This is the law of the universe, and there isn’t anything that you can do to change it.

A cautionary vision of things to come

Here's a funny article about the word "literally."

The language of criminals

We English speakers owe so much to our roguish forebears, who revolutionised our language.

Using the Correct Word

The author discusses the misconjugation of the verb "dive."

Common Comma Usage

This post presents 11 rules (with accompanying examples) for comma usage in English.

The Secret to Being Self-Taught: Curiosity

One thing most self-taught (and self-made) people have in common is curiosity—immense, driving curiosity. If you can develop your curiosity and have patience, you can learn anything on your own.

Grammar habits are too hard to break: Jarvis DeBerry

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

Why We Have Both “Color” and “Colour”

Find out why Noah Webster simplified American English spelling--and what differences weren’t his idea.

Watch Out for Those Progressive Verbs

The author discusses the importance of progressive verbs.

Reading Your Way to Better Writing

The author shares three tips to help us get better with writing.

November 10, 2012

Weekly Finds: November 10, 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...


Life is not about how many times we fall down, but how many times we get back up. As long as the second number is higher than the first, we’re doing just fine.


Amidst the debate of English's place within Chinese lexicography, here are the top ten English phrases of Chinese origin, with a few that may surprise you.

The 8 parts of speech—do you know them?

When asked this question by her fourth-grade daughter, the author blanked on three of them. She offers a refresher—with examples from a maritime author (yes, you read that correctly).

11 puzzling phrases and their meanings

From the ‘bee’s knees’ to ‘seeing a man about a horse,’ here are the definitions and origins behind some time-tested (and worn) phrases and words.

Words for Your Writing Toolbox: Get Rid of “Get”

The author shares this advice: "Get rid of get!" Check out her recommended substitutes.


The author shares the value of constructive criticism.

Guess Which Tech Words Are Now In the Collins Dictionary?

Here are 29 tech-related words that you may now officially add to your vocabulary list.

Amazeballs and 85 other words enter Collins online dictionary

MORE than 80 words and terms including "blootered", "amazeballs" and "mummy porn" have been added to an online dictionary.

Plain English good. Basic English diabolical.

Plain English is both clear and precise. Basic English is fiendishly difficult for EFL and ESL users. And Global English works for everyone.

Dating Slang Terms

What slang or colloquialisms do you use when referring to dating and relationships?


The author shares a simple process she uses to pursue her personal passions and visions, despite her fear.

4 Words That Someone Should Have Invented by Now

The author shares some words that he coined.

Back in the day, revisited

Where does the expression back in the day come from?

It's actually quite interesting

Are the words actually and really interchangeable?


The author shares tips on how to perform impromptu speeches.

November 3, 2012

Weekly Finds: November 3, 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...

Make Your Stress Work for You

We all face times when seemingly negative feelings—stress, impatience, nervousness—affect our ability to perform at our best, or simply rob us of our peace. But what if we could turn this around? What if those same feelings could actually be positive, or at least wield less negative influence?

When I split an infinitive, God damn it […] it will stay split

The author discusses split infinitives.


If you're 'Left in the lurch', what is it exactly that you're left in?

5 great ways to improve your English!

The author discusses five great ways to improve your English. All aspects are covered: reading, writing, grammar, and speaking. There is no end to what you can learn, and no reason why you can’t have fun doing it!

The Most Annoying, Pretentious And Useless Business Jargon

Note these workplace words.

Strutting the boards: what you can learn from acting

The author shares "that public speaking is, or should be, a form of acting. While it’s true you’re playing 'yourself' and not another character, whatever you do up on that stage should be a gift to your audience. It’s all about them – not about you." This could be useful for your IELTS Speaking exam.

What's Your Style?: Style Guides and How to Use Them

The author has compiled a list of the most well known style guides and how to use them.

Use of but, though, in spite of and despite

All of these are words used to express contrast. While but and though are conjunctions, in spite of and despite are prepositions.

Does this excite you?

Are you excited for, by, or about something?

30 Synonyms for “Meeting”

The author shares thirty ways to label a meeting, depending on the particulars.

Get Disciplined, Not Motivated

Learn the drawbacks of merely relying on motivation.

Grammar Fun: Murder of English

Here's a funny infographic on grammar.

Relatively speaking: an untangling of that/who/which

The author answers the following question: "People often say that when referring to others when I believe they should say who or whom, e.g. “there’s somebody over there that I know”. Is this correct? [...] it seems to happen all the time."

15 Reduplicative Doublets

Reduplicative doublets are a small class of idioms in which a word is repeated after the conjunction and; such repetition is intended to provide an emphatic boost to a statement.

May the odds be ever in your favour: the language of The Hunger Games

The author takes a look at the language that brings Suzanne Collins’ world to life.

If Oprah and Michael Jordan Can Find Success.... So Can The Rest of Us

The author shares this important message with us: "Never let those who want to kill your dreams win!!!!"

When its and it's are both correct

The author discusses a rare case where it's and its are both correct in the same context with the same meaning.

Building idioms

Here is a list of idioms built around the names of buildings.

The Politically Incorrect Etymologies of 11 Words and Phrases

Here are some modern English words and phrases with socially insensitive origins.

Estimate vs. Guess

What’s the difference between estimate and guess? The distinction between the two words is one of the degree of care taken in arriving at a conclusion.

October 27, 2012

Weekly Finds: October 27, 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...

A Better Way to Practice

Whether it's learning how to code, improving your writing skills, or playing a musical instrument, practicing the right way can mean the difference between good and great.

Discussing Linguistics with Kanye West

Kanye West decided it was time to have a discussion about profanity in pop music on Sunday, particularly focusing on the way he, and other artists, use the b- and n- words.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

Know the rules on properly using apostrophes.

English Verbs Class | Verb Patterns

The author discusses verbs that go with the to-infintive, the gerund or -ing form, or both.


The author argues: "Language is not static. Language evolves over time. Words come en vogue (or are invented) and some words become passé or archaic. As language changes, so do the 'rules' of its use."

Seven Ways to Overcome Inertia and Get Yourself Unstuck

In order to make changes in your life and achieve your goals, you need to use the law of inertia to your advantage; here’s how.

How to Email Your Professors

The author shares 5 tips to properly use email.

How to Deal With Revision Fatigue

The tip here could be useful for your IELTS Writing practice sessions.

How can I improve my writing?

There’s a lesson for writers… A lot of potential authors are simply too sensitive. As a writer, you need a place to bad, so that you can learn to be good.

How to project your voice

The author, Olivia Mitchell, answers a question: "I always feel that I am not able to project my voice and articulate the words properly. Is there any material / information on how I can improve these areas?"

Throw Your Life a Curve

The author's hypothesis is that those who can successfully navigate, even harness, the successive cycles of learning and maxing out that resemble the S-curve will thrive in this era of personal disruption.

What People in 1899 Thought the Year 2000 Would Look Like

The author writes: "If you asked me back in the year 2000, what 2012 was going to be like, I'm not sure I could have gave you a good answer. So you could imagine how wrong people back in 1899 were about the year 2000."

The Writing Life: The point of the long and winding sentence

Pico Iyer says writing longer phrases is a way to protest the speed of information bites people are subjected to each day.

Five Things I Know About Writing

The author shares his motto: "Tune out the infernal voice of the internal editor and just write. Put pen to paper and let the words flow."

13 signs with unintentionally suspicious quotation marks

The author shares that aside from the apostrophe, there's another punctuation mark out there that sign-makers can't seem to get the hang of, with often disastrous results.

4 Tips to Make the Most of Failure

Don't waste your next failure--follow these steps to make sure you get the most you can out of the experience.

Life as a Walking Typo

Here's a post that tells us why we should keep on trying despite the mistakes.

Grammar-grouching on 'myself' misuse

The author shares a few rules to help you through those times when you're not sure how to talk about yourself.

What Is the Plural of Scissors?

Get Grammar Girl's take on the plural of scissors. Learn why scissors and pants always seem to be plural.

Actually, Literally, What Your Crutch Word Says About You

The author shares her list of frequently used crutches, and what your crutch of choice has to reveal about you.

The Most Taboo Word in Our Vocabulary

The word "need" is being disgraced from our vocabularies -- which to me is erasing the humane component out of humanity. If properly embraced, it's what makes us human.

Breaking Stereotypes: A Vocabulary Lesson at the Flea Market

Have you misjudged anyone lately? Learned any new words? Seen a callipygian? Experienced pareidolia?

How to Coil Rope So It Doesn’t Get Tangled

You might say that rope's natural state is tangled. It's tangled when you're not using it, and tangled when you need it. But it doesn't have to be that way. You could get some tips here so you'd be ready when you're tasked to describe a process in IELTS Writing Task 1.

English Verb - To Spread

Learn about the various tenses for the verb "to spread."

More Reading for Better Writing

There's a lot you can do to develop better writing, like write every day and proofread your work. But the number one way to improve your writing is to read.

October 20, 2012

Weekly Finds: October 20, 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 Learn in Your Sleep

Research published in Nature Neuroscience shows that we can learn entirely new information while we snooze.

The 5 Most Annoying Grammar Mistakes

The author lists some offences to the English language which she considers as simply inexcusable.

ENGLISH QUIZ: Can YOU crack these conjunctions?

The author invites us to answer some questions and find out just how good we are with the use of conjunctions in English grammar.

Clause I Said So: A Refresher Course On Sentence Types

The author focuses on the largest piece of the sentence’s construction—the clause.

Using Proper Grammar Through Social Media

The author believes that there are many common Internet terms that you will come across through your online work. She thus argues that not only is spelling important but the punctuation and consistent style are also important.

Memory Enhanced by a Simple Break After Reading

If you find it difficult to remember what you’ve read, try this easy technique.

Unique Words in the English Dictionary

Some words in the English dictionary are truly unique. English words found in the English dictionary aren’t always of English or American origin. Some words which were included were derived from the different languages from around the world.

How to talk about your friends in English

Will you play with me? Will you be my friend? Learn how to speak like an adult when you talk about your friends.

Slang Words: Relationships

Learn 10 American English slang words and expressions about relationships.

20 Redundant Phrases to Eliminate from Your Writing

Keeping your sentences crisp and clear can add punch to your writing, helping you get your point across more effectively.

Brain learns while you snooze

Even while in a deep slumber, people can still learn brand new information. Sleepers soak in new associations between smells and sounds, knowledge that lingers into the next waking day, researchers report online August 26 in Nature Neuroscience.


Find out how the author handles this.

Finding the right word

How do you choose the right word? Some just don’t fit what you’re trying to convey, either in the labor of love prose for your creative writing class, or the rogue auto-correct function on your phone.

Going to the movies

This post presents cinema related vocabulary, discussing synonyms for the word movie and vocabulary related to different types of movies.

25 Synonyms for “Delete”

Learn them all. Read on.

What are the 5 steps for changing bad habits into good ones?

The author shares her ideas on bad habits and good habits and suggests the best ways to turn one into the other.


Here's a list of some of the new words added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online.

Grown and growner

The author responds to the following remark made by TM:
A language anomaly of sorts that has entertained me for some time is the term "grown man."

First, it's a term that we use ONLY in circumstances where someone is, in fact, not acting like a grown man; yet the use of the term is literal, not ironic. E.g., "I can't believe that a grown man would act this way." The term is not used in any other context, as far as I know.

Second, there is no such term as "grown woman." No one ever says that.

Plural jam

Learn how to make compound words plural.

i.e. and e.g.: What they mean and how to use them

Here's a good discussion about the abbreviations i.e. and e.g.

6 Ways to Change Your Attitude Right Now

Want to change your attitude quickly? The author suggests six tricks to change your mood right now.

One Point English Lesson: Because, Since, & As

When you want to say the reason something happens, you can use because, since, or as. The author teaches us how these words are used.

Bad English is the lingua franca of science

Read the author's discussion on the widespread use of the English language in the field of science.

Why is something that is the very best known as ‘the bee’s knees’?

Read some interesting trivia about this expression.

How to Express and Accept Compliments in the English Language

Enrich your vocabulary by learning how to give and receive a compliment in English.