Confusing Word Pairs

In English, there are a number of words that share similar spelling or meanings that can make them hard to differentiate from each other. Here we will be looking at some commonly confused word pairs that can be tricky to master, even for those who speak English as a native language.   Confusing Lose and…

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Abbreviations

As a general rule, you should avoid abbreviations in formal writing unless you are sure that the abbreviations you are using will be familiar to your audience. The situation is somewhat different in scientific and technical writing. Depending on your specific field, it may be acceptable or even preferable to use agreed upon abbreviations for…

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Writing Out Numbers

In the English language, there are rules to when you should write out numbers as words (twenty) and when you should write numbers as numerals (20). How do you know the difference? We’re going to look at some general guidelines now, but keep in mind that these rules might differ from the rules used in…

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Politeness in American English

Modern American English has few official rules for how politely you should address a given individual in a given situation. In French, Portuguese, and Spanish, for example, a second person singular pronoun takes different forms depending on who you are addressing. This formal/informal pronoun distinction is entirely absent in English, though there are some basic…

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December Quiz

Test your knowledge of some of the tricky pairs and groups of words that are common in the English language. For each sentence, choose the correct word or words from those in brackets. Answers and explanations can be found at the end of the quiz. If you have trouble with any of these words, feel…

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Negative Questions

A negative question is worded in a way that requires a “no” response for an affirmative answer whereas a “yes” response would give a negative answer. In short, negative questions switch the “yes/no” response order of regular, or positive, questions. Here is an example of a negative question: Would you mind driving me to my…

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Holiday Vocabulary: Halloween

With the holiday season once again upon us, we’re going to revisit the meanings of some important end-of-year cultural and religious holidays observed in the United States. If you need more help with vocabulary or any other aspect of the English language, contact the English Island in Atlanta. Our passionate ESL teachers offer a variety…

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Irregular Plural Nouns Quiz

Test your knowledge of irregular plural nouns with this short quiz. Each sentence below has a singular noun in brackets. Replace this noun with its correct plural form to successfully complete the sentence. Keep in mind that irregular plural nouns in English can take many forms. Some of these nouns follow alternate pluralization rules. Other…

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Even More Words Whose Meanings Have Changed Over Time

Even More Words Whose Meanings Have Changed Over Time   This week, we’re going to look at another five words whose meanings have changed over time. English, like any living language, continues to grow and change. New words are created, old words fall out of use, and existing words take on new meanings. Many common…

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Gerunds Quiz

This week’s lesson is a short quiz on one of the first topics we covered: gerunds.   Gerunds are verbals made by adding “-ing” to verbs. Verbals are words made from verbs that function as other parts of speech. Gerunds are derived from verbs but are used as nouns. They can fulfill all the same…

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