Category: English in use

Celebrate National Poetry Month with us!

What are our favourite poems?

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we here at Oxford Dictionaries decided to gather together everyone’s favourite poems. From Roethke to Frost, here is a quick overview of our favourite verse! You can click on the poems’ titles to read full versions. “The Puddock” by John M. Caie This is my favourite poem to recite. […]

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The question of astronomy vs astrology perplexes some, but really represents a very big difference.

Astronomy vs astrology?

What’s the difference between astrology and astronomy? The words are similar and can be confused, but are very different things – though a closer look at the history of the words reveals that this hasn’t always been the case. The difference between astronomy and astrology Let’s clear this up first. Astronomy is ‘the branch of […]

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Why English is hard: words ending in ‘-ough’

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Shakespeare's Globe

How Shakespeare spoke: Original Pronunciation, rhymes, and puns

We’re all familiar with at least some Shakespeare, but the chances are that we’ve only either read his words on the page, or heard them spoken with modern pronunciation. This, however, does not entirely match how Shakespeare and the original casts of his plays would have spoken. Even modern British English is not the same as what […]

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words ending in ‘ster’

55 words ending in ‘ster’ you didn’t know you needed to know

Ask people to say words ending in ster and you might get hipster, prankster, jokester, or gangster. A handful of words formed by the addition of the suffix –ster are still in common use; with some, like spinster, the origin may no longer even be apparent, as the word no longer primarily means ‘a woman […]

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Words containing 'mother'

Mother’s milk, mother wit, and other words containing ‘mother’

This Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day, also known as Mothering Sunday, in the UK: that day of the year on which mothers are particularly honoured by their children. In North America and South Africa, Mother’s Day is on the second Sunday in May instead. According to A Dictionary of English Folklore, Mother’s Day as we […]

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Make sure you get your politics words pronunciations correct!

Avoid sounding foolish when talking politics

Have a political opinion you want to voice? Do you want to take a stand on an issue? Don’t discredit yourself by pronouncing a word incorrectly. Even if you have seen a word a million times in newsprint, it may not mean you have the pronunciation down pat. Before you charge ahead into a political […]

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Maybe

15 ways to say ‘maybe’

We’ve already given you the lowdown on the many and various ways you can say ‘yes’ and ‘no’, and now we want to liven up the vocabulary of the less committed. What happens if you want to stay on the fence and say ‘maybe’? Don’t worry; we’ve got your back. Peradventure Archaic or humorous now, […]

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