Showing posts with label english speakers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label english speakers. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Boom! Crunch! Pop!

Onomato . . . what?

Hard to spell but easy to use, an onomatopoeia (ahn-uh-mat-uh-PEE-uh) is a word that sounds like what it means.

If you think for a minute, you can probably come up with lots of examples. Hiss, snip, thud, clonk . . . Comic books are a great place to look for onomatopoeias in action. Pow!

Or, try thinking about a barnyard. Most languages have onomatopoeic words for the sounds animals make.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


What’s an Idiom?

Broadly speaking, an idiom is a widely used phrase that, when taken as a whole, has a particular meaning that you would not be able to deduce from the meanings of the individual words. The ubiquitous greeting “How are you doing today?” is an example of an idiom. Normally, how means “in what manner” or “to what degree.” Taken literally, the question doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Who vs. Whom

Whom should be used to refer to the object of a verb or preposition. When in doubt, try this simple trick: If you can replace the word with “he”’ or “’she,” use who. If you can replace it with “him” or “her,” use whom.

  • Who should be used to refer to the subject of a sentence.
  • Whom should be used to refer to the object of a verb or preposition.

Who or whom? If you’re like most English speakers, you know that there’s a difference between these pronouns, but you aren’t sure what that difference is.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Three French Phrases English Loves to Borrow

For the third day of LitMas, we’re offering you three French phrases English speakers love to borrow. There’s something kind of glamorous about sprinkling foreign phrases into your conversations every now and then, don’t you think?

1 Joyeux Noël

’Tis the season of wondering what noel means. In French, Noël simply means Christmas. If you’re not sure about joyeux, go ahead and take a guess—you’re probably right.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

First, Firstly, At First…Which Is It?

First and firstly are both ordinal (or ordering) adverbs that English speakers and writers use to enumerate related points (e.g., first…second…third… or firstly…secondly…thirdly…). Because first, second, and third work perfectly well as both adjectives and adverbs, some people find that adding -ly is superfluous and even a little bit pretentious. In other words, it is grammatical overkill.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Farther vs. Further

People use both further and farther to mean “more distant.” However, American English speakers favor farther for physical distances and further for figurative distances.

Ray LeBlond once said “You learn something every day if you pay attention.” Today is the day to learn the difference between further and farther.


Unsurprisingly, farther means “at or to a greater distance.” In Salt to the Sea, Ruta Sepetys uses this adverb to describe the activity of some sea vessels: Some boats eventually floated ashore.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Political Correction: How “PC” and “Reclaimed” Words Got Their Start

Any Google News search for “political correctness” will yield three general groups of results: pieces slamming one public figure or another for their lack of politically correct discourse, thinkpieces describing why the “PC police” are ruining free speech, and articles debating whether certain actions or speech patterns are “politically correct.”

While online pundits and thinkpiece authors spend a lot of energy debating whether terms or usages are PC, or condemning certain figures for their use or avoidance of PC language, there aren’t as many discussions about the history of politically correct language.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What is a Reflexive Pronoun?

Reflexive pronouns are words ending in -self or -selves that are used when the subject and the object of a sentence are the same (e.g., I believe in myself). They can act as either objects or indirect objects. The nine English reflexive pronouns are myself, yourself, himself, herself, oneself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves.

Grammatical terms might seem complicated and a bit arbitrary when you first hear them, but they really aren’t, once you get to know them.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Are You Sending Emoji or Emojis?

What do you call those tiny pictures we all use in texts and chats? Do you opt for the Japanese-inspired “emoji” or the English-focused “emojis”?

The debate between these two pluralizations of emoji has been raging for almost as long as emojis have existed. To quote Bustle writer Lucia Peters, the answer to this question is both “incredibly simple and unexpectedly complicated.”

The Short Answer—Emojis

The Associated Press took a hard stand on this issue in March 2013, making it one of the first style guides to draw a line in the sand in favor of “emojis.” Since then, major publications like The Atlantic and The New York Times have mostly adopted this spelling as well, and the emoji-tracking dictionary Emojipedia has officially supported the “-s” pluralization for ease of use.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Avoidance Tactics: Common English Mistakes

by Laura K. Lawless, writer at

Everyone makes mistakes when writing, sometimes due to simple typos, and other times because they just don’t know any better. Most people can spot their own typos when proofreading, but that only works when you know that it’s a mistake—what about when you don’t? Even native speakers mix up words that either look similar or have similar meanings, but there are simple techniques that can help you avoid some of these common mistakes.