Category: English in use

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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shipping forecast

‘Rain later. Good, occasionally poor’: what does the shipping forecast mean?

Listeners to BBC Radio 4 have a strange affection for its shipping forecast. Although it is basically just a weather forecast, the hypnotic sounds of its intoning, occurring at the same extremely precise four times every day, recalls the chanting of the monastic hours. Its lyrical qualities have been the inspiration of poets such as […]

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The Watergate scandal in 1972 gave us one of the most widely-used political terms: the -gate combining form.

12 overused political terms

With the 2016 Presidential primaries kicking into high gear, the US should prepare itself for a deluge of slangy political terms. From older, tired terms to new, shinier ones, here are several words and phrases that will undoubtedly grate on the ears of those following the scramble towards party nominations. 1. flip flopper Although US […]

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Dad's Army

10 words you need to know before watching Dad’s Army

A while ago I tried to explain to my American colleague why the words “Don’t tell him, Pike” would bring a wry smile to any Brit’s face. I don’t think I succeeded brilliantly. If you’re not familiar, the clip below will let you know what I’m talking about – sorry for spoiling the punchline – […]

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