February 23, 2013

Weekly Finds: February 23, 2013

A Man With Magnifying Glass by digitalart
Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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...


The Greengrocer's Apostrophe, and Why You Shouldn't Buy It!

For those who don't know, greengrocer's apostrophe is a term used in Britain (and maybe elsewhere) to describe the incorrect use of apostrophes in plurals.

Gerunds - Do You Use Them Correctly?

A gerund is a present participle used as a noun and end in "-ing." Do you know how to use them properly?

Changing from Singular to Plural in English

In most cases it's easy to change from the singular to the plural form of a noun - just add 's' to the end of the word. However, there are exceptions to this rule depending on whether the word ends in 's', 'ch', 'sh', etc., in which case we add 'es' to the word. Learn all about the rules for changing from singular to plural, as well as the exceptions.


Humor for Writers – Writer's Wedding

Find out what happened at the wedding of this successful Sci-fi writer.

News English Lessons

Here are some reading, listening, and vocabulary exercises.


Nervous? Don't sweat it.

The author shares a few do's and don'ts to help us out in speaking.

This Is Your Brain on Fear (Infographic)

A look at what happens inside your brain when you're afraid.


People vs. Persons

What’s the difference between people and persons?

Medicine or Medication?

What's the difference between medicine and medication?

Difference between ago and before

What's the difference between ago and before?

On culinary vocabulary

The author discusses why some food names are weird.

Dolch Sight Words Flash Cards

Free printable Dolch sight words flash cards for fun words learning activities. Check out some deas that could be played using the cards.

Words in the News: Frankenstorm

What is the meaning of the word Frankenstorm?

Removing "Retarded" From Our Vocabulary

The author writes: "We've all but eliminated racial slurs from our vocabulary but for some reason, we support the use of the word retarded. It's time to re-evaluate our words."

Where does the expression 'to mind your Ps and Qs' come from?

The concept seems reasonable enough– behaving well and not giving offence – but quite what the letters P and Q have to do with this is a little more mysterious. Why not B and D, or M and N, or any other combination

Prepositions: Vocabulary for Beginning Readers

Basic vocabulary, like knowing prepositions, is necessary for beginning readers. Teach prepositions with this simple game.

How to Acquire Vocabulary

The author shares three easy ways to help you acquire vocabulary fairly fast.

Words and Their Stories: Military Expressions

The author shares a number of terms associated with the military.



writing mistakes that can hurt your reputation.

Keeping it formal – your academic writing

The author shares some tips for keeping your academic writing formal and appropriate.

February 16, 2013

Weekly Finds: February 16, 2013

A Man With Magnifying Glass by digitalart
Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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...


Grammar Jokes

The author shares some grammar jokes to make us laugh.

Dummy Prepositions

The author shares: "It can be tricky identifying these 'dummy' prepositions. It’s easy enough to discard clear cases of meaningful prepositions, in verb phrases like walk to school, but it gets harder as the prepositionals become metaphorical, in phrases such as stare at him."

Dis and Dat

How do we solve the problem of having unreferenced demonstrative pronouns?

Basic English Grammar – Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb

What is a noun? What is a verb? What is an adjective? AHHHHH!!! Learn how to recognize nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in this important basic grammar lesson.

Apostrophes, Bloody Apostrophes!

Apostrophes are probably the most misused punctuation marks in contemporary written English. When used correctly, they enhance language by providing extra information in a sentence to better convey your meaning. When not used correctly, they can muddle your message.

Verbing the Nouns

The author writes: "We comedy Wednesday? Really? We comedy Wednesday! Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you: since when is comedy a verb?"

The world's worst typos – in pictures

A new book details the crime de la creme of typographical errors, from hotel brochures advertising a 'French widow in every bedroom' to Tea Party signs declaring President Obama's 'crisis of competnce'. Here are some of the finest.

Ain't This Good English?

Do slang and vulgarity belong in the dictionary?


9 Ways to Bring the Joy of Reading Back Into Your Life

Try these ideas to rediscover the joy of reading books.

Twitter’s Number One Gift To The World Is The Art Of Brevity

The author shares the benefits he's received from using Twitter.

Hijack! How Your Brain Blocks Performance - Forbes

How people get mentally stuck, why, and how it happens.

The One Drawback of Going All Digital

For productivity and collaboration, using digital tools to jot down notes is great. But there's one thing that will surely suffer.

Spotting specific language impairment: signs for teachers to look out for

Language difficulties may not be as high profile as dyslexia or autism, but they should be say Dorothy Bishop and Becky Clark.


3 Reasons Why You’re Hardwired to Learn the Hard Way

We all tend to think we’re invincible until, well, life happens. If only we had listened to sage advice. But the truth is, we’re not hardwired to learn that way.

The Thinking Mindset vs. The Doing Mindset: Pick One (And Only One)

The motivation to think and the motivation to act strike us at different times. Plan your day accordingly.


7 Surprising Truths about Body Language

The author shares his findings on body language.

Eliminating the Dreaded "Um"

The author offers tips for public speaking and removing filler words like “um” from your speech.


Dude, I Kind of Dig the Word "Dude."

The author shares her views on the word "dude."

Words that are often confused

Some words are often confused by language learners – because they are similar to another word or because they look like a word in your own language but have a different meaning. Here are some words that often cause confusion.


Oddly enough, it may be that the word 'Nincompoop' has biblical associations.

Ghost Words

Sometimes dictionary entries have errors, and sometimes those errors turn into real words. Find out which words that you use had such an inauspicious start.

5 Fantastic Ways How Not to Learn English Words

The author shares some typical mistakes when English words are learnt and how to avoid them.

Multi-word verbs: Methods and approaches

The author shares some methods to help students deal with problems about multi-word verbs.

19 Confounding Discrepancies Between American English and British English

The author shares a number of words and their corresponding translations.


Blog better! The nine most common writing errors you can easily avoid starting right now

If you're a writer, blogger or journalist, pay close attention to this list so that you can avoid these common writing errors in your own work.

February 9, 2013

Weekly Finds: February 9, 2013

A Man With Magnifying Glass by digitalart
Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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...


Doom and Gloom for Whom?

One clear lesson about language is that it's ever-evolving, but at the same time, the more things change, the more things stay the same. Take the case of whom.

Times more / less than

Grammatical question: can something be hundreds of times slower than anything else?

Charge up your writing with vibrant verbs

Ditch the stodgy 'to be,' and shift your text into high gear.

A really close look at usage

Check this short discussion about "real close" vs. "really close."

7 quick and easy (and controversial) rules for commas

It’s the most divisive punctuation mark, and not simply because it separates independent clauses. Here’s a cheat sheet to help—and maybe spark an argument.

Grammar lessons from a bacon-loving sixth-grader

Check out this child's grammar skills.

A Short Post on Commas

The author shares this advice: "Read the sentence out loud and any time you pause, put a comma there."

Are Region Names Capitalized?

Grammar Girl explains when you should capitalize region names such as "Twin Cities" and "Bay Area."

Standing proud for adjectives

The author shares her view on adjective use.

Misplaced Modifiers: Avoiding Possible Dire Circumstances for the Subjects in your Sentences

When using a modifier as an introductory participial phrase, the subject must be doing the action in the phrase.

And...and more

When to use "and" in sentences and at the beginning of sentences.

How to punctuate however

Learn how to properly use however.


The Smartest People Prefer Twitter To LinkedIn And Facebook, Research Shows [STUDY]

Psychometric testing company Onetest surveyed 2,851 graduates from around Australia, exploring the outcomes (life satisfaction, salary and career progression) of people who had entered the workforce between 2002 and 2011, before cross-referencing this data against their social network of choice. Read the article for the results.


Make up your mind! How to make the process of decision making easier

Making important decisions can be stressful, but being organized with your approach can make the decision-making process easier.


If you chase experiences and not things, those experiences will change you, the wisdom gained will be internalized, and that will be your greatest reward.

Think Like a Surfer and Take Important Risks

Surfing is a challenging sport that requires perseverance and risk. Srinivas Rao, writing for productivity and ideas blog the 99u, found it to be an apt metaphor for the risks we need to take in life.

10 Things Winners Do Differently

Anyone can give up, and lots of people do, because it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to keep going when everyone would understand if you stopped, that’s what winners do differently.



Where should I start? What should I say? What if I mess up? What if I trip? What if I freeze? What if people laugh when they’re not supposed to? What if I disappoint the audience? Learn to own speaking uncertainty.


15 most unbelievable words in English [infographic]

Check out some of the strangest, and very rarely used, English words.

The Coolest Word in the English Language

Read the results of Grammarly's Facebook Page poll on the coolest English word.

Lite or Light? Which Spelling Is Right?

The American Psychologist Association asks: "Which spelling should be used, lite or light?"

I admit it . . . I’m dog-given

Check out a number of idiomatic expressions that rely on the dog.

The Brit List: 10 American Words or Phrases Adopted by Brits

Check out some of the linguistic contributions America has given to the world.

Ten-dollar words

What is the origin of the phrase “ten-dollar word”?

Do you know your -ibles from your -ables?

Check out this discussion on a pair of endings that many people find confusing: -able and -ible.

February 2, 2013

Weekly Finds: February 2, 2013

A Man With Magnifying Glass by digitalart
Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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...


Active or Passive Voice? Take a Side.

Unless you have a good reason for doing otherwise, express verbs in the active rather than the passive voice. Don't know the difference? Read this post.

Ingenious Ideas For The English Language Arts Classroom

This week's Ingenious Ideas feature National Book Month and Grammar Ninja.


Learn more about prefixes and suffixes.

Present perfect tense

The present perfect tense is used to talk about actions or situations that started in the past and has continued up to the present. It can also be used to talk about finished actions or events that are connected with the present in some way. The present perfect tense is made by putting the past participle form of the verb after has/have.

How Long Should a Paragraph Be?

A paragraph should consist of six to seven sentences. No, it should be no longer than three sentences long. Actually, it should include a topic sentence, several supporting sentences, and possibly a concluding sentence. Sigh. Can I end this paragraph yet?


The author shares a list of English language mistakes.

Interview with a semicolon

Gather insights on how to properly use a semicolon.


Language structure arises from balance of clear and effective communication

When learning a new language, we automatically organize words into sentences that will be both clearly understood and efficient (quick) to communicate. That’s the finding of a new study reported today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) which challenges opposing theories on why and how languages come to be organized the way they are.

Scott Kim’s symmetrical alphabet

The author shares a perfectly symmetrical mirror alphabet from puzzle-designing wizard Scott Kim.

Breakthrough in world's oldest undeciphered writing

The world's oldest undeciphered writing system, which has so far defied attempts to uncover its 5,000-year-old secrets, could be about to be decoded by Oxford University academics.


How to Teach Yourself to Trust Yourself

There is a simple remedy to the insecurity of being ourselves: stop asking. Instead, take the time, and the quiet, to decide what you think. That is how we find the part of ourselves we gave up. That is how we become powerful, clever, creative, and insightful. That is how we gain our sight.

How to get more from last-minute studying

The author shares some tips for studying.


Tips for improving your public speaking

It's amazing how many higher-level people have the attitude that they don't need to improve. But self-perceptions don't always reflect reality. Executives are often not nearly as good as they think.

Speech Anxiety: Use "Grounding" to Look and Feel More Confident

Suffer from speech anxiety? Your ability to feel confident and project power depends upon your being "grounded." Discover how in this article.


How it works: The technology of touch screens

This is a good resource for your Reading and Academic Writing Exam. Take a look at the technology of mobile touch screen displays -- resistive vs. capacitive, single-touch vs. multitouch and how companies are working to reduce weight while improving quality.

Collection of Useful Phrases

Discover some phrases that you could use when you want to write a letter of recommendation.


Follow These Twitter Dictionaries To Be A Logophile

You might think that 140 characters just doesn’t cut it when you have to pick a word apart, and get to its meaning and usage. But let’s leave some room for surprises because Twitter and the Twitter dictionaries bring real-timeliness into learning new words. Here are a few usual and a few unusual dictionaries on Twitter. Follow them and wax lexical.

The 9 Weirdest, Most Controversial Words Added To The Dictionary

No single dictionary ever saw a controversy like the nationwide freakout that greeted Webster's Third, which achieved its status as the most controversial dictionary ever by appearing to endorse vulgar English as good English.

20 Animal Idioms in English

Add these expressions to your vocabulary.

5 Everyday Things You Won't Believe Are Copyrighted

Since all of human history consists of people thinking of ways to take good ideas and make them terrible, these days copyright laws have been taken to absurd extremes.

"Ironic" Versus "Ironical"

Grammar Girl defines the difference between "ironic" and "ironical."

Google’s Updates Ngram Viewer, Showing How Words Have Evolved Over time

In a nutshell, Ngram Viewer lets you find and visualize how words and phrases have developed and been used over time using the 30 million print books Google has scanned working with libraries located around the world as its dataset.

Watch Your Language! (Usage)

Test yourself on 10 stick English usage questions to help boost your written communication skills.

Barbaric vs. Barbarous

What’s the difference between barbaric and barbarous? The terms are nearly interchangeable, though for two connotations, one term is preferred over the other.

100 Culinary Terms To Help You Talk, And Cook, A Lot Smarter

So you think you know the true meaning of “spa” and “mother”? Think again. Food Republic is here to help brush up your kitchen vocabulary with a composite of 100 of our best Words of the Day.