Category: Grammar and writing help

book review

How to write a compelling book review

Summer is a time when many of us have a little extra time for reading. For me, that means Go Set a Watchman, some Haruki Murukami and James Lee Burke, plus summer mysteries and thrillers. It means catching up on what local authors and friends have published. And it means reading new books in my […]

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dictionaries creative

The Vital Spark: dictionaries and creative writing

I love dictionaries and thesauruses: they’re dazzling and thrilling and useful. I own a ridiculously large number (seven currently on my desk, though most of them are downstairs). I use them, for work and pleasure, all the time. But now Vineeta Gupta, Head of Oxford Children’s Dictionaries, has asked me a question about them that’s […]

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Video: ‘I’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’

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Into or in to? Learn the rules of splitting them up or keeping them together.

Into or in to

A horse walks into a bar. The barman comes up and says ‘Why the long face?’ I’m rather fond of all those ‘A man/horse/alien etc. walks into a bar’ jokes, aren’t you? Some are particularly amusing, such as the following one, which fellow language-lovers should appreciate: Past, present, and future walked into a bar – […]

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Husky is a notable contraction word.

6 hidden contraction words

We’re all familiar with contractions. Plenty are signalled by an apostrophe and others don’t hide their origins with any notable ingenuity – such as I’m, you’re, they’ll etc. But some everyday words have dispensed with markers of their shortenings, to the extent that you may well not have realized that they ever started as anything […]

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Video: ‘could of’ or ‘could have’?

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Desert and dessert

9 awkward mistakes your spellchecker will miss

Your spellchecker cannot always save you. After all, one of the gimmicks of the English language is the fact that you can switch two or three letters around and end up with a different word. Say you’re trying to type the word being and you muddle a few letters: benig may not be a word, […]

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There are lots of difficult words to spell in English - the word 'recommend' is among them.

23 difficult words to spell

Of course, not everyone spells these words wrong – but lots of people do! Let’s take a look at a few words that are always putting our spelling to the test. From sneaky silent letters to devious double letters, English sure doesn’t make spelling easy. 1. weird (wierd) Breaking everyone’s favourite spelling rule – ‘i’ […]

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