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Commonly Confused Words: Bated vs. Baited

What does each word mean? If something is bated, it means it is diminished or moderated. The word is rarely used outside of the expression ‘bated breath’. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is bated used in some example sentences: He waited with bated breath to see what she would say next. The audience watched with bated breath as the chase scene unfolded. Click here to create a Spellzone vocabulary list including the word bated. If you bait something, it means you are lure, entice, or trap it. If you bait someone, it means you taunt or harass them. If something is bait, it means it is the thing being used to lure or entice. Click here for...

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Words with Sneaky Past Tense Forms

When forming the past tense, words are split into regular and irregular verbs. In the case of regular verbs, the past tense is formed by adding ‘ed’ to the end of a verb (or just the letter ‘d’ if the verb ends in the letter ‘e’). Irregular verbs, on the other hand, do not follow the normal rules. This week, we’re taking a look at five words with confusing past tense forms. Is it ‘spelt’ or ‘spelled’? We couldn’t resist starting with this one! ‘Spell’ is one of a few verbs that has both a regular past tense form and an irregular one. The past tense and past participle of this word can be either ‘spelled’ or ‘spelt’. For example: I spelled three words incorrectly in my test. I...

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Other Ways of Using Hyphens

A hyphen is a short dash which is used to link words together. Last week, we learned how to use hyphens in compound words. Today, we will look at how to use hyphens when adding a prefix to another word, how to use hyphens to denote word breaks, and how to use hyphens to stand in for repeated parts of words in lists. Using Hyphens to Join Prefixes to Other Words What is a prefix? A prefix is a collection of letters that is added to the beginning of a word in order to modify its meaning. Prefixes are not usually words in their own right. Here are some examples of prefixes: un- pre- multi- post- super- Do I need to use a hyphen every time I add a prefix to a word? As with...

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Hyphens in Compound Words

What is a hyphen? A hyphen is a short dash which is used to link words together. There are three main situations in which hyphens are used: in compound words, when adding a prefix to another word, and to denote word breaks. This week, we will look at how to use hyphens in compound words. What is a compound word? A compound word is a word that is made up of two or more other words. Hyphens are often used in compound words either to show that when the included words are together they have a combined meaning, or to show the relationship between the included words. There are different types of compound words and you don’t need to use hyphens in all of them. Compound Adjectives Hyphens...

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Apostrophe Errors

The apostrophe is perhaps one of the most-often misused punctuation marks. In one of our previous blog posts, we shared ten tips for using apostrophes correctly. This week, we are going to take a look at some of the most common mistakes people make while using apostrophes so that you can avoid making them too. Never use an apostrophe to form a plural One place where people often add unnecessary apostrophes is in plurals. You never need an apostrophe to form a plural. This includes the plurals for abbreviations, letters, numbers, spans of years, and surnames. For example: cars not car’s ifs and buts not if’s and but’s DVDs not DVD’s Ps and Qs not P’s and Q’s 9s not 9’s the...

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Spelling Using the Senses

Here at Spellzone, we encourage our students to learn spelling using as many senses as they can. By learning in this way, we are able to connect as many associations as possible with the spelling of a particular word. These associations should help trigger our memories when we are trying to remember spellings. So how we can be aware of the five senses when learn spelling? SIGHT When learning a word, LOOK closely at it. Then cover it up and try to remember how the letters are positioned on the page. Picture your own handwriting and the way the letters look beside each other. Sometimes if you spell a word in a few different ways, one of the spellings will LOOK more familiar than the...

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Commonly Confused Words: Elicit vs. Illicit

What does each word mean? The word elicit means ‘to call forth’ or ‘to draw out’. It is used to describe the calling forth of emotions, opinions, responses etc. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is elicit used in some example sentences: The museum elicited huge media interest. She tried to elicit a smile from her crying friend. Click here to create a Spellzone vocabulary list including the word elicit. The adjective illicit is used to describe activity which is done in spite of accepted morality, law, or convention. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is illicit used in some example sentences: ...

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Grammar and Punctuation Tips

The summer holidays are coming to an end and if you’re not back at school yet, you will be soon. To help you prepare, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite posts on grammar and punctuation. Commas are confusing, but luckily we’re here to help. Click here to learn how to use commas to separate clauses, here to learn how to use commas as part of a list, and here to learn how to use commas in direct speech. If you think commas are difficult to use, you’ll probably think semi colons are worse. This punctuation mark is used to denote a break that has more emphasis than a comma but is less final than a full stop. In this article, we look at the two common circumstances in which it is...

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Words People Often Say Wrong

A few years ago, we looked at 20 words that are often mispronounced. One of the reasons English is such a difficult language to learn is because you can neither rely on the pronunciation of a word to work out its spelling, nor can you rely on the spelling to work out the pronunciation. This is because English has evolved from a variety of different languages. Take a look at the following ‘ch’ words: cheese, champagne, chaos. While they’re all spelt with the same first two letters, the start of each word is pronounced differently: ‘ch’, ‘sh’, and ‘k’. This week we are going to look at 20 more hard-to-pronounce words, but it’s important to emphasise that pronunciations vary from region to...

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Twenty Idioms about Friendship

a shoulder to cry on – someone who listens sympathetically birds of a feather flock together – people who have the same outlook/tastes/interests will be found in each other's company close-knit – very close like two peas in a pod – very similar through thick and thin – through all circumstances no matter how difficult to be as thick as thieves – to be very close or friendly to be joined at the hip – to be inseparable to be on the same page/wavelength – to be in agreement to build bridges – to promote friendly relations between people or groups to bury the hatchet – to end a conflict to clear the air – to defuse the tension to get on famously – to get on very well...

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Commonly Confused Words: Flair vs. Flare

What does each word mean? If you have flair, it means you have natural talent for something or a distinctive and stylish elegance. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is flair used in some example sentences: It was only the pupil’s first piano lesson, but the teacher could already tell he had a flair for music. Her clothes have such flair, don’t you think? Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word flair. If a something flares, it spreads outwards. The word is often used to describe sudden bursts or light, fire, or emotion. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is flare...

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Guide to Spellzone Word Lists

For Spellzone users, word lists are a vital part of learning how to spell. While most of our students are looking to improve their spelling, it is important to remember that not everyone will find the same words difficult to learn. Students studying different subjects at school may also have different sets of vocabulary that they are required to be familiar with – it is unlikely that someone studying Biology will need to know the same terms as someone studying Drama. Our word list feature is a great way to adapt Spellzone to your specific needs by creating lists featuring the words you personally struggle with. Click here to learn how. We also have a huge collection of existing word...

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Idioms about Cats

a cat may look at a king – someone of low status still has rights a fraidy/scaredy-cat – a timid/fearful person all cats are grey in the dark – if the qualities distinguishing people can’t be perceived, they don’t matter cat burglar – an agile, stealthy, and unnoticed burglar who climbs up walls and through windows to enter buildings cat call - a shrill shout or whistle expressing either sexual admiration but in a predatory and victimising manner or disapproval cat got your tongue? – a question posed to someone who remains silent when expected to speak catnap – a short sleep during the day copycat – someone who copies another’s behaviour/clothes/ideas/work curiosity killed the...

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Avani Shah, Spellzone writer - audio book - BAME Short Story Prize 2017

We are delighted that Avani’s short story which has been shortlisted for the ‘The Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize 2017’ is now available as a free audio book from Audible. Some wonderful stories well worth a listen – Avani’s story ‘Greed’ is Chapter 4. If you are viewing on a laptop go here. If you are viewing on a mobile device go here. See previous blog for more information....

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Commonly Confused Words: Hear vs. Here

What does each word mean? If you hear something, it means you are perceiving a sound with your ear. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is hear used in some example sentences: She heard the rumble of the approaching train. Did you hear what happened at the party? She didn’t want to hear what they were saying about her. Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word hear. The word here is used by a speaker or writer to refer to the place or position they are currently in. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is here used in some example sentences: We’ve been meeting...

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Commonly Confused Words: e.g. vs. i.e.

What does each word mean? The abbreviation e.g. is used in a sentence to indicate that you are about to provide an example. Here is e.g. used in some example sentences: When applying for a job, make sure you check everything your potential employer will see (e.g. your CV, cover letter, application form, etc.) for spelling mistakes. Spellzone has a variety of features that will help you improve your spelling, e.g. spelling tests, spelling games, and spelling lessons. You should never use e.g. at the start of a sentence. The abbreviation i.e. is used to clarify the information provided in a sentence. Here is i.e. used in some example sentences: When applying for a job, make...

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Commas and Clauses

Do you find commas confusing? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Commas have a variety of functions yet many people are uncertain of how to use them. So far this year we’ve looked at how to use commas as part of a list and how to use commas in direct speech. Today we’re taking a look at how to use commas between clauses. What is a clause? A clause is a group of words containing a verb that can either stand alone as a complete sentence or make up part of a more complex sentence. Complex sentences are usually split into main clauses and subordinate clauses. Subordinate Clauses A subordinate clause doesn’t make sense on it’s own – it needs the main clause to add meaning to it. Adding a...

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25 Idioms about Dancing

dancing in the streets – very happy footloose and fancy free – free from commitment it takes two to tango – both people/parties are responsible for the argument/problem to be all-singing, all-dancing – to have a large range of impressive features/skills to be light on one’s feet – to be nimble to step out of line – to behave inappropriately/to break the rules to dance on air – to be very happy to dance to someone’s tune – to comply with someone’s demands and whims to drag one’s feet/heels – to stall to land/fall on one’s feet – to have good luck to follow in someone’s footsteps – to do the same thing/make the same choices as someone else did before to get into a...

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Spellzone Writer Shortlisted for Prestigious Prize

We are delighted to announce that one of our writers Avani Shah has been shortlisted for the 2017 Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize. The prize is now in its second year and, according to Danuta Kean, writing for The Guardian, was ‘set up in 2015 to find “fresh compelling writing” by minority ethnic writers in the wake of the Writing the Future report of 2015, which revealed the poor representation of black and Asian writers of fiction in the UK.’ You can find out more about the prize here. Avani, who holds a Master of Arts with Distinction in Creative Writing (Prose Fiction) from the University of East Anglia, has been writing for Spellzone since 2013. She says, ‘It wasn’t...

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Commonly Confused Words: Flaunt vs. Flout

What does each word mean? If you flaunt something, it means you are displaying it in an ostentatious manner. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is flaunt used in some example sentences: He flaunted his new shoes. Having saved up for months, she was looking forward to flaunting her new iPhone. Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word flaunt. If you flout something, it means you are disregarding a rule or convention. The word is also sometimes used to mean ‘mock’ or ‘scoff’. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is flout used in some example sentences: She decided...

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Spellzone is used by students aged seven to adult to improve their spelling, including those learning English as a foreign language and those with dyslexia.

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"I would like to thank you so much for this great website. I have always been ashamed of my spelling but after a few lessons I am already better. It is filling in all the gaps. Thanks."
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