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Commonly Confused Words: All together vs. Altogether

What does each word mean? All together means ‘all at the same time’ or ‘all in the same place’. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is all together used in some example sentences: Because they shared a car, they all arrived at the function together. It was lovely to have the family all together again. We’ll perform the final number all together. Click here to create a Spellzone vocabulary lists featuring the word all together. Altogether is an adverb that means ‘completely’ or ‘in total’. The word is also used to mean ‘on the whole’. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is altogether used in...

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Six Ways to Spell the Long A Sound

One of the reasons why English spelling is so difficult to learn is because often the same sound is spelled in a variety of ways. Click here to read about the different ways to spell the long /e/ sound and here to read about the long /o/ sound. Here are the six ways of spelling the long /a/ sound: 1) Just the Letter A Some words spell the long /a/ sound with just the letter a. Here are some example: acorn apron alien agent basic basin data fatal 2) A – E Words Sometimes, to spell the long /a/ sound, you use an a in the middle of the word and an e at the end. Here are some examples of long /a/ words spelled with an a in the middle of the word and an e at the...

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Idioms and Expressions about the Theatre

a dog and pony show – an elaborate presentation or campaign a hard/tough act to follow – an achievement that sets a high standard that other success will struggle to compare to ‘Break a leg!’ – ‘Good luck!’ class clown – a student who makes jokes and/or plays pranks footloose and fancy free – free from commitment number – a song/dance/performance out of step – not conforming to what others are thinking showstopper – a scene or song that receives a long applause from the audience/something that is very popular showbiz – show business star-studded – featuring many famous people the show must go on – an event or activity must continue despite hindrances/problems to be in the...

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Six Ways to Spell the Long O Sound

A few weeks ago we looked at seven common ways of spelling the long /e/ sound. Scroll down to read about six ways of spelling the long /o/ sound. Just the Letter O In some cases, the long /o/ sound is spelled with just the letter o. These are often but not always words that are more than one syllable long. Here are some examples of long /o/ words spelled with just the letter o: oval hotel program total yoga no ago gecko O – E Words A very common way of spelling the long /o/ sound is with an o in the middle of the word...

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Commonly Confused Words: Council vs. Counsel

What does each word mean? A council is an administrative body that manages or advices people. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is council used in some example sentences: I have to apply to the local council to get a parking permit. The school council is elected by the students and is in charge of representing student issues in front of the faculty. The Council of Elrond was called in Rivendell to decide what should be done with the One Ring. Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word council. The word counsel is usually used as a verb meaning ‘to give advice to’. The word can also be used as a noun meaning...

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Spooky Spelling

There’s no doubt that spelling is scary. But fear not – Spellzone is here to help. With Halloween just around the corner, we’ve noticed many of our users are looking at spellings related to the spooky celebration: The Halloween word list was created by one of our users – you can find it here or, if you’d prefer, you can create your own word list here. For some advice on how to get the most out of our word list feature, click here. If spooky spellings aren’t for you, find some of our other favourite word lists here. Once you’ve found the perfect spelling list for you, click on the ‘eye’ icon at the top of each list to take a ‘Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check’ test; click on the ‘ear’ icon...

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30 Idioms about Books and Reading

a closed book – a topic or person about which/whom very little is known an open book – a topic or person that/who is easy to understand or about which/whom a lot is known book smart – possessing knowledge acquired from reading or study but lacking common sense bookworm – a keen reader by the book – in accordance with the rules ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover!’ – the outward appearance of something or someone is not a reliable indication of its/their true nature every trick in the book – all available methods of achieving what’s desired in my book – in my opinion in someone’s good/bad books – in favour/disfavour with someone on/off the books – officially on...

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Commonly Confused Words: Heal vs. Heel

What does each word mean? To heal means to recover and become healthy again. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is heal used in some example sentences: He was known for healing mild illnesses with herbal remedies. It took six weeks for her ankle to heal enough for her to go running again. Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word heal. A heel the back part of a foot below the ankle. The word is also used to describe the bottom back part of a shoe or sock. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is heel used in some example sentences: These shoes give me blisters on my heels....

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The Seven Ways of Spelling the Long E Sound

If you struggle with spelling – you’re not alone. One of the reasons why English spelling is so difficult is because of how inconsistent it is. This week we’re looking at the long /e/ sound and the seven different ways of spelling it. Just the letter e In some cases, the long /e/ sound is spelled with just the letter e. This is usually the case in words that are more than one syllable long, but exceptions include some very common words like ‘me’, ‘be’, ‘we’, ‘he’, and ‘she’. This spelling of the long /e/ sound is used for prefixes ‘re-‘, ‘be-‘, and ‘de-‘. Here are some examples of long /e/ words spelled with just the letter e: evening emergency become between ...

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Commonly Confused Words: Draw vs Drawer

What does each word mean? Draw describes the act of marking paper with pens and pencils and the act of pulling or dragging something. As a noun, draw can mean randomly selecting something, something that attracts people to an event, or an even score at the end of a game. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is draw used in some example sentences: Our teacher has asked us to draw self-portraits for Art. The townspeople draw their water from a well. Let’s draw names out of a hat to decide who will go first. The library is one of the city’s biggest draws. The football match ended in a draw. Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists...

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The History of Denim and Other Cloth from Around the World

Corduroy The word corduroy has been used in the English language since 1780. While some origin stories like to suggest that the word derives from ‘corde du roy’ meaning ‘king’s cord’, the actual etymology of the word is much less interesting. Corduroy is most likely a combination of the words cord (twisted string or rope) and duroy (a coarse woollen fabric). Denim While jeans didn’t become popular until the nineteenth century, people have been wearing denim since the seventeenth century or earlier. The word comes from the French ‘serge de Nîmes’ – serge cloth from the town of Nîmes. The word was corrupted in English to ‘serge de Nim’ and then to just denim. Gingham Gingham is a cotton...

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English Idioms: The Bake Off Edition

Surely we can’t be the only ones who are obsessed with The Great British Bake Off? We’re so obsessed, in fact, that we found ourselves wondering how baking has influenced the English language over the years. Below is a list of the baking-related idioms we came up with – can you think of any others? a piece of cake – very easy a piece/slice of the pie – a share of what’s available a smart cookie – a clever person as easy as pie – very easy as flat as a pancake – very flat as slow as molasses – very slow as sweet as pie – very sweet bread and butter – the necessities bread and circuses – entertainment/policy that is used by those in power to keep the masses docile bread...

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Commonly Confused Words: Tail vs Tale

What does each word mean? A tail is a flexible part of an animal that extends past the rest of its body. Tail can also be used figuratively to refer to any part that extends past the main body of whatever it is attached to. As a verb, the word describes the act of following someone. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is tail used in some example sentences: The dog wagged her tail in delight. He wore a tailcoat to the gala. The police officer tailed the suspect. Click here to create a Spellzone vocabulary listincluding the word tail. Tale is another word for story. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. ...

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Commonly Confused Words: Defuse vs. Diffuse

What does each word mean? If you defuse a situation, you make it less tense or dangerous. The word is also used to describe the act of removing the triggering device from an explosive. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is defuse used in some example sentences: He told a joke to defuse the tension. Specialists were called in to defuse the bomb. Click here to create a Spellzone vocabulary list including the word defuse. If you diffuse something, you spread it over a wide area or between a large number of people. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is diffuse used in some example sentences: The...

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Idioms about Transport and Travel: Part 2

Read part one of our fifty idioms about travel and transport here. to cross that road when you come to it – to deal with a problem if and when it occurs rather than planning for it to drive a hard bargain – to be unwilling to compromise when making a deal to drive someone up the wall – to irritate someone to fall off the wagon – to give in and drink alcohol after trying to abstain to get the show on the road – to put a plan into action to go down a rocky road – to move into a difficult/challenging period to go to town – to go about something enthusiastically/extravagantly to hit a roadblock – to reach a difficulty/challenge that stops you from making progress to hit the...

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Commonly Confused Words: Adverse vs. Averse

WHAT DOES EACH WORD MEAN? The word adverse is used to describe something that is contrary to your interests or welfare.  If something is adverse, it is unfavourable or harmful and it might prevent your chances of success. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is adverseused in some example sentences: The new medication may have adverse side effects. Despite the adverse weather conditions, they decided not to cancel the bike trip. Click here to create a Spellzone vocabulary list featuring this word. Averse (usually followed by ‘to’) is used to describe the feeling of strongly disliking or being strongly opposed to something....

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50 Idioms about Transport and Travel: Part 1

all hands on deck – immediate involvement of everyone present asleep at the wheel – not attentive at a crossroads – at a point where an important decision must be made at fork in the road – at a point where an important decision must be made backseat driver – a passenger in a car who gives unwanted advice/someone who gives unwanted advice cart before horse – in the wrong order clear the decks – to prepare for a task by getting rid of or tidying up anything that might hinder the process cool your jets! – calm down! country mile – a long distance fifth wheel – someone who is superfluous full throttle – using all the available power highways and byways – major and...

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Commonly Confused Words: Cue vs. Queue

What does each word mean? The word cue had two meanings: a tapered wooden rod (used to strike a ball in pool or billiards), and a signal or reminder (usually given to an actor who has forgotten his or her lines). If you cue someone, you give them a signal. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is cue used in some example sentences: The dancers waited for their musical cue to come on stage. I have a list of moments in the script where I might have to cue you. The snooker player had a lucky cue. Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word cue. A queue is a line of people or vehicles waiting for something or...

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Top Tips for Forming Abbreviations

Should you capitalise an abbreviation? Does it need an apostrophe? What about full stop after it? This week, we’re looking at the different types of abbreviations and how to write each type correctly. Whether or not you should capitalise or use a punctuation mark will depend on the type of abbreviation you are dealing with. Acronym A word made up of the first letters of other words is called an acronym. An acronym is always pronounced as a word and not as separate letters. Most acronyms are written either with the first letter capitalised or with all the letters capitalised. You don’t need to use a full stop after an acronym (unless it is the last word in a sentence). For example: ...

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Top Tips from the Archive

Over the years, we’ve shared plenty of advice to help you get to grips with some of the trickier aspects of the English language. This week, we’ve compiled a handy list of these tips to make them easier for you to find. Ten tips for using apostrophes One of the most common mistakes people make when using apostrophes is breaking the following rule: NEVER USE AN APOSTROPHE TO FORM A SINGULAR PLURAL. But when should you use an apostrophe? In this list of tips, we go over the appropriate situations in which to use an apostrophe and some common situations in which people incorrectly use them. Capital letters While you probably know that you should use a capital letter at the...

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English spelling blog Older Blogs


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