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The Order of Adjectives

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The Order of Adjectives

Native speakers of any language intuitively adopt many grammar rules without even realizing those rules exist. One such rule is the order of adjectives. Most native English speakers do not realize that sometimes you must put adjectives in a certain order, and other times you can choose your own adjective order. In English, there are…

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Even More English Contronyms

This week we’re going to examine another five commonly-used English contronyms: words with two contradictory meanings. A contronym, sometimes called an auto-antonym or “Janus word” (after the two-faced Greek god), is essentially its own opposite. Accordingly, the meaning that a contronym conveys is entirely context-dependent.   If you need more help with contronyms or any…

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Yet More Fossil Words

In this lesson, we’re going to look at five more fossil words that have been preserved within modern English idioms. These archaic words are rarely, if ever, used outside of the idiomatic expressions in which they are embedded. In fact, an English speaker using an idiom containing a fossil word might not even be aware…

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Yet 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 English words have very different meanings now than they did…

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Tricky Words Quiz

Test your knowledge of some of the tricky pairs and groups of words that we’ve covered in previous lessons with this short quiz. 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 need more help with…

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Tricky Pairs and Groups of Words Part Four

This week, we’re going to clarify several more pairs and groups of “tricky words” that both native and non-native speakers have difficulty using correctly. In our commonly-confused words lessons, we’ve focused on words with similar spellings and/or pronunciations but different meanings. Our tricky words lessons, by contrast, focus on words whose uses are confused for…

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Tricky Pairs and Groups of Words Part Three

In this lesson, we’re going to look at a few pairs and groups of bothersome words that didn’t make it into our previous “tricky words” lessons. English has a large number of words that both native and non-native speakers have difficulty using correctly. In our commonly-confused words lessons, we’ve focused on words with similar spellings…

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When to Use Passive Voice

In one of our earliest lessons, we discussed passive voice and why you should usually use active voice instead. However, sometimes passive voice is either useful or necessary. This week, we’re going to explore a handful of situation in which you should use passive voice.   Active Voice vs. Passive Voice Let’s start with a…

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More English Contronyms

This week we’re going to examine another ten commonly-used English contronyms: words with two contradictory meanings. A contronym, sometimes called an auto-antonym or “Janus word” (after the two-faced Greek god), is essentially its own opposite. Accordingly, the meaning that a contronym conveys is entirely context-dependent.   If you need more help with contronyms or any…

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English Contronyms

This week we’re going to examine ten commonly-used English contronyms. A contronym, sometimes called an auto-antonym or “Janus word” (after the two-faced Greek god), is a word with two opposite meanings. Which meaning a contronym is intended to convey is entirely context-dependent. Because of this, we’re providing both brief definitions and sample sentences for the…

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