Thursday, 30 November 2017

Peculiar Plurals

Now, in general, we know that to make the plural form of a noun we add either an 's' or an 'es' to the singular. But we have some rather special nouns that don't follow this rule:
Singular                   Plural
man                          men
child                        children
woman                    women
ox                            oxen
mouse                      mice
louse                        lice
goose                       geese
tooth                        teeth
foot                          feet
cod                           cod
trout                         trout
salmon                     salmon
sheep                       sheep
deer                         deer
oasis                        oases
radius                      radii
bacterium                bacteria
antenna                   antennae
focus                       foci
syllabus                   syllabi  or syllabuses
terminus                  termini  or terminuses
alumnus                  alumni

This is not a complete list, but it lists some of the more common plurals that are a bit strange

Wednesday, 29 November 2017


So, have you been properly introduced to a Participle?
It is a word that is partly a verb and partly an adjective. That's the simplest definition. 

If you want a complicated one here it is - "A participle is that form of a Verb that partakes of the nature both of a Verb and of an adjective".
There are 3 kinds of participles:-
Present Participles:-
We met a girl carrying a bunch of flowers.
Loudly banging on the door, the policeman asked to be let in.
The gazelle, realising that the cheetah was spent, trotted off to safety.
Past Participles:-
Terror-stricken, he fled the cave.
Driven by ambition, he toiled day and night to achieve his aim.
We saw a convoy of military trucks drive by, laden with ammunition.

Perfect Participles:-
This represents an action completed sometime in the past. 
Having eaten, we took a short nap. 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The case of the confusing carbuncle

The word carbuncle is a really strange word! It is strange, not because it has 2 meanings , several words in English have 2 meanings- but it is strange in the complete diversity of meanings of the word!!
One meaning is - a bright red gem, in particular a garnet cut en cabochon.
The other is - a multiple boil or severe abscess on the skin - ew!

So be careful how you use the word, you might sound very wierd if the context does not make the meaning crystal clear !!!

Monday, 27 November 2017

Parenthetical Expressions

These are expressions, bounded by commas, which give clarity to a sentence. 
A example is :
" Yoghurt, on the other hand, is a fine substitute for ice-cream".

Some other common parenthetical expressions are :
after all
by the way
for example
in my opinion
of course
on the contrary
on balance
to tell you the truth
in fact
honestly speaking
bluntly speaking
in short
Yes, we have all heard them and used them; this is their proper name!

Thursday, 23 November 2017


Not talking about the LOCH NESS monster😀 

The suffix 'ness' indicates 'a state of' when it forms a word, for example:
'weightlessness' derived from the adjective 'weightless'
'happiness' derived from the adjective 'happy'
'sadness' derived from the adjective 'sad'
'firmness' derived from the adjective 'firm'
'calmness' derived from the adjective 'calm'
and so on.
The first example in this list is an example of suffixes used in tandem, the first suffix is 'less' and the second is 'ness'.
There are several words like this:
'Listlessness' derived from 'listless'
'Restlessness' derived from 'restless'
'Carelessness' derived from 'careless', etc.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Check this out!

These are the different ways in which prepositions are used  with the verb 'check':
1) to check on - to observe or follow someone or something.
2) to check with - to confirm with someone if some fact is correct                                  or not.
3) to check into - to use the booking you may have made in a hotel                               or motel. 
4) to check out of - to leave a hotel/ motel after completing your                                     stay and after making the necessary payment.
5) to check up - to confirm if factual or not.
6) to check in - to go to an airport and collect your boarding card                              for a flight. 

Friday, 17 November 2017


These are words that are spelt the same , sound the same , but have different meanings. Some of them are given below:-
1) Pole - a straight rod, often placed erect in the ground
    Pole - an native inhabitant of Poland.
2) bear - a large furry and fierce animal that loves honey and fish,
    bear - the ability to accept, tolerate, carry a load,
3) can - a tin /aluminium container, 
    can - the ability to do something. 
4) stall - to delay something 
    stall - a kiosk at a fair
The Dictionary is full of them! Send us a few at to get a free Skype lesson of 30 minutes on conversational English! Offer valid till 30/11/2017.  

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Do you know what is an Irish beauty?

If you are imagining a flaming redhead with green eyes, a la Scarlett O'Hara, 

you're going to be sadly disappointed!

This is what an Irish beauty is - a person with 2 black eyes, having obtained them at the wrong end of a brawl!

Friday, 10 November 2017


So what's the big deal about 'Commas'? You often hear that they are so important and can change the meaning of a sentence. 
The comma and its cousins, the Colon and the Semicolon are all about pauses in a sentence.
here's how you set the pauses :
for a comma, count up to one in your mind
for a semi-colon, count up to 2 in your mind
for a colon, count up to 3 in your mind.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Future in the Past context

Whoa, hold it there! what sort of time travel is this? None, there are times when we are talking of something that happened in the past context, but had not happened but would have happened.

Confused? Let me clarify with an example 
"I said that we would be bringing two bottles of wine, and wanted to know what kind of wines Jeremy would prefer?".

Note that this is in indirect speech, where the person is reporting about the past (the past context) about something that had not happened as yet (the future).

Another example:-
She knew that Robert would be unhappy about that.

However this is also used for typical or habitual situations :-
When October came, big celebrations would be held for the Mid Autumn Festival.
Anne was a loyal friend, she would always stand by you during hard times.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Raining cats and dogs

Of course,  this idiom means that it is raining very heavily! But how did this come about? The short answer is that nobody knows !! One guess is that it is a corruption of the Greek words 'cata doxa' , which means 'beyond belief'. Another guess is that it is from the Norse belief that cats could influence the weather and that dogs were a signal of storms.
Maybe the rain falling on the roof was so loud that it sounded as if cats and dogs were fighting on the roof!!! Who knows?
The phrase was first published in  book of poems in 1661, so it has been around for a while😀

Monday, 6 November 2017


These are sets of words used in everyday conversations but not formal or literary in their nature. An example that you may have come a cross "Come on, shake a leg" which is an invitation to a modern dance!
Some lesser known ones of Cockney origin are :
Use your loaf = Get smart, use your brains
Chew the fat = have a chat
not a dickey = not a word

In New Zealand, you will find young people saying "Wicked!" in reaction to what they really like and what they really mean is "Cool"/"Fashionable". 

Every country has its own set of colloquialisms as because English is quite a malleable language , they are too many to list completely.