Saturday, 30 June 2018


Ellipsis is when there is an omission of some words that are superfluous or that can be understood from the context.
Where’s my pen? On the table!
How did you do in your test today? Passed.
Alice wasn't there for ballet class today and nor was Sally.
Jenny promised to bring the food for the picnic and I the drinks.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Correlative Conjunctions

These are conjunctions that are commonly used together:

  • Not only ...  but also, e.g. Not only was he stupid but also arrogant.
  • Neither ... nor, e.g. That is neither here nor there.
  • Either ... or, e.g. They are either very gifted or very well trained.
  • Both ... and, e.g. Peter was both excited and delighted.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Did you know ?

  • That the word Nicotine is derived from the name of the French diplomat, Mr Jean Nicot, who introduced tobacco to France?
  • That the concept of the Teddy bear came about after President Theodore Roosevelt spared the life of a young bear while hunting?
  • That the guillotine was invented by Joseph Guillotin?
  • The snack Sandwich was created by the Earl Of Sandwich?
The common thread in these tidbits is that they are EPONYMOUS- they are named after a person connected with them.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Egyptian words used in English

There are several words from Ancient Egyptian that are used in English:
1) Egypt: A corruption of Hikuptah, which itself is a corruption of Hwt-ka-Ptah. Now Ptah happens to be one of their gods.
2) Pharaoh: comes from a modification of the Hebrew word, paroh which is derived from the Egyptian Pra-a, meaning palace.
3) Gum: came from the Egyptian word qym.t.
4) Desert: comes from the word deshret,  which means barren.
5) Sphinx: derived from the word Sheshpankh. which means living image

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Avoiding Chinglish

Henry has started the School yesterday.
Henry started school yesterday.
Edison discovered many machines
Edison invented many machines
Susan, can you borrow me your book?
Susan, can you lend me your book?
Karl never listens his parents.
Karl never listens to his parents.
My legs are painful.
My legs are paining.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Euphemisms 2

Phrase                 Meaning
catch a cold -      with a zip undone
campaign wife -  a mistress
Derbyshire neck - a goitre
fraternal assistance - an invasion

Saturday, 23 June 2018

The difference between forego and forgo

Forego is something that happens before, e.g. It is a foregone conclusion that a patriarch will clash with a rebel.
Forgo is to sacrifice, e.g. I must forgo dessert to lose weight.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Awhile , A while

The two words do not mean the same thing: 
awhile means for a short time, 
e.g. Let's wait awhile
a while means for some time
e.g. She's been gone a while.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Did you know?

  1. What is a busman's holiday? It is to spend a holiday doing what you usually do at work
  2. What are Rag-tag and Bobtail? Everyday commonplace things
  3. To keep one's breath to cool ones porridge? To not argue when it useless to do so.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

The prefix cata

worsening of something , e.g. health
mixed metaphor
a flood
underground graveyard
a platform for a coffin
reverse evolution
the most familiar word here; chemical that starts a reaction
waterfall or clouded lens of the eye
state of low energy
state of nervous rigidity
list of products
a device for propelling stones
a kind of mental illness
runny nose

The prefix 'Cata' means a lowered state.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The importance of Proofreading

In 1631, a Bible was published that listed the Seventh Commandment in Exodus 20:14  as "Thou shalt commit adultery", mistakenly having omitted the word 'not' in the commandment. Naturally, the Church was not amused and fined the publishers severely!
Proofread at least twice, especially if it is a legal document or a document that will be read by the public to avoid extreme embarrassment, if not a lot of money too.

Sunday, 17 June 2018


A Euphemism is a figure of speech which describes an unpalatable situation in a palatable way. Some of them are given below in no particular order:
Above your ceiling - Promoted to a level beyond your abilities
Brick short of a load - Of below average intelligence
Costume wedding - Mariage of a pregnant bride
Dark moon - A wife's secret savings
Hang in the bell-ropes - To be dumped 

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Redundant Phrases 2

Continuing with more redundancies:

  • Cash money - Cash is always money, delete any one of the words.
  • close proximity - Ever heard of far proximity? Drop close.
  • closed fist - A fist is always closed, if not it is a palm. Drop closed
  • combined together - What's combined must be together. Get rid of together.
  • completely unanimous - Wonder what partly unanimous would be?  Drop completely.
  • Cooperate together - Can you cooperate separately? Drop together.

Friday, 15 June 2018


What does this mean exactly? You see this word often in Newspapers and magazines these days reporting some celebrities words, usually when there is some error in the speech/quote.
What does this mean?
It means 'in these exact words' and by putting this word in the journalist absolves him/herself from the atrocity committed on the English language, transferring the blame to the celebrity.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Did you know?

That 'vermicelli' is Italian for 'little worms'?
That 'spaghetti' is Italian for 'little strings"?

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Crossing of the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
      And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
      When I put out to sea,

   But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
      Turns again home.

   Twilight and evening bell,
      And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
      When I embark;

   For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
      The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
      When I have crost the bar.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tennyson has been a favourite of mine, and the Poem above beautifully captures the practicality of the English culture of that age, a stoic and fearless acceptance of Death.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Redundant Phrases 1

Sometimes, we use phrases that are redundant without realising it.
Some examples are  :

  • advance planning - Planning is always in advance, drop the 'advance'.
  • and also - only one word is necessary, not both.
  • as an added bonus- if something is a bonus, it must be added; delete 'added'.
  • ask the question - You can't ask anything other than a question; drop 'question'.
  • ATM machine - The M in ATM is fo machine, drop 'machine'.
  • basic essentials - If they are essentials, they have to be basic. Drop 'basic".

Monday, 11 June 2018


This is a word for a comic icon, an unscrupulous and unreliable valet to a clown, popularised in English in Punch and Judy shows, where Scaramouche is the valet of Punch.
It originated from an Italian performer, Tiberio Fiorillo, who played Scaramouche in another Italian theatre comedy, who had a long moustache and a goatee beard.
The word has become so much of a tradition that it has become an icon, just like Houdini, Casanova, etc. Do you know any scaramouches?

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Strange words

What is a Knob Kerrie?
  1. Is it a town in Ireland?
  2. a term used by builders?
  3. a round-headed stick used as a club and a missile?
Send us your answers to info@theenglishlearningchannel for a prize!

Saturday, 9 June 2018

I keep six honest serving men

I keep six honest serving men
    (They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
     And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
     I send them east and west:
But after they have worked for me,
    I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
   For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch and tea,
   For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
   I know a person small-
She keeps ten million serving men,
  Who get no rest at all!

She sends'em abroad on her own affairs,
  From the second she opens her eyes-
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
   And seven million Whys!

From the "The Elephant's Child" by Rudyard Kipling

My note: These men are of the Grammatical species 'Adverbs'

Friday, 8 June 2018


Grammar is a word of Greek origins and is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses. phrases and words in any given natural language. Why Grammar? It is necessary to have these rules to understand the meaning of what is being communicated. Take for example the sentences below:
Boy the green shirt wearing is a.
The boy is wearing a green shirt.
Both sentences have the same words. The second sentence makes it clear that the boy is the one wearing the green shirt, while the first seems to indicate that the green shirt is male if anything at all. 
Very different meanings!

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Appositive phrase

An appositive phrase is one that is used just for description and is usually set off by commas.

Example: "The Dead Sea Scrolls, written by an ancient people called the Essenes, shed an interesting light on early Christianity."

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Mnemonics for spelling words that begin with 'b', 'c' and 'd'

These are some mnemonics for words that begin with the alphabets beginning with - 'b', 'c' and 'd'.

  • believe: "Don't believe a lie."
  • business: "I often take the bus in my business."
  • calendar: "January is the first month of the calendar." 
  • cemetery: "Epitaphs are found in a cemetery."
  • defendant: "At a picnic, it would be hard to defend an ant."
  • dilemma: "Emma faced a dilemma."
  • doctor: "Get me to a Doctor or else!"
I know this is particularly difficult in English as many words are derived from the languages of the various conquerors of the British Isles, the Saxons, the Vikings, the Angles (yes, there were a people called that and I'm not sure if they were very geometric!😀), the Normans, the Romans and that is why you will often find several words that mean the same thing. 

Monday, 4 June 2018


What is a cliché?

A cliche is a clever turn of phrase that has become so familiar that it does not seem so clever any more.
Examples of clichés are :

  • Slippery as an eel 
  • Pretty as a picture
  • Happy as a lark
  • Sharp as a tack
  • Blind as a bat
Most grammar authors advise you to avoid them, especially in academic writing;  but in business writing, they do not seem to mind as long as the meaning conveyed is clear.