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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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Confused Words: Poll vs. Pole

A poll is a way of looking into the public opinion of something by gathering information through votes or interviews. The word can also be used as a verb to describe the act of gathering this information. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is poll used in some example sentences: It is imperative that you go to the polling station and vote in the election. He took a poll to see which members of the group used Apple products. They polled a sample of the public in attempt to predict the outcome. Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word poll. A pole is a long rod, usually round and made of wood, metal, or...

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Idioms about Science and Technology

a cog in the machine – an insignificant member of a huge organisation or system a well-oiled machine – an organisation that operates smoothly acid test – a test of something’s value or success as bright as a button – very intelligent bells and whistles – extra features and trimmings cutting edge – advanced and innovative in tune with – in agreement or harmony with someone or something it’s not rocket science – it’s not difficult on the ball – alert on the same wavelength – to be in agreement/to have similar views and ideas to blow a fuse – to lose your temper to button your lip – to stay quiet to get your wires crossed – to have a misunderstanding to have...

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Commonly Confused Words: Who vs. Whom

Over the last few weeks, we’ve looked at subject and object and subjective and objective pronouns. In most cases we know whether to use a subjective pronoun or an objective pronoun instinctively, but there are two pairs of pronouns that people often confuse: I vs. me and who vs. whom. This week we’re going to look at when to use who and when to use whom. To learn about when to use I and when to use me, click here. When should you use the word ‘who’? You should use who when the word you are referring to the subject of a sentence. Learn more about subjects and verbs here. Here is who used in some example sentences: The two women, who have known each other since childhood, are turning...

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Commonly Confused Words: Wait vs. Weight

What does each word mean? The word wait refers to the act of staying in one place in anticipation or expectation of something happening. The word also describes the act of serving food when in relation to a waiter or waitress. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is wait used in some example sentences: We waited for the bus. She decided to wait until she’d read the book before watching the film adaptation. He had an evening job waiting tables. There’s an hour-long wait to go on the rollercoaster. We had a long wait at the airport. Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word wait. The weight of something refers...

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Subjects and Objects

In our last blog post we looked at subjective and objective pronouns, but what do we mean when we refer to the ‘subject’ or ‘object’ of a sentence? Read on to find out! What does the term ‘subject’ mean? The subject of a sentence is the person or thing that the sentence is about. All verbs have a subject, and the subject is usually the person or thing doing whatever action the verb indicates. Here are some examples of subjects (bold) and verbs (underlined) in sentences: Katie threw the ball. My mum and dad almost missed the party. Thomas and I love action films. Sometimes, the subject of a sentence is implied. For example: ‘Throw me the ball!’ vs. ‘Katie, throw me the...

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Pronouns

A few weeks ago, in part two of our series on Word Classes, we looked at pronouns. A pronoun used in a sentence to avoid repeating a noun that has been mentioned before. We use the term personal pronoun to describe pronouns used to replace words for people or things. Personal pronouns include: I, me, mine, you, yours, his, her, hers, we, they, and them. Personal pronouns can be categorised into the following four groups: Subjective Pronouns The term subjective pronoun is used to describe the pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, and they. This is because these pronouns work as subjects of verbs in a sentence. Here are some examples of subjective pronouns: She threw the ball to...

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Tips for Formatting Speech

A few weeks ago we looked at how to use commas in direct speech. This week, let’s take a look at the other things to be aware of when formatting speech correctly. Before we begin, let’s remind ourselves on the differences between direct speech and reported speech: The term direct speech refers to when the actual words of a speaker are quoted in the text. For example: ‘I love you,’ he said. Reported speech (also known as indirect speech) refers to when someone’s words are described rather than quoted. For example: He told her he loved her. This article will focus on how to correctly punctuate direct speech. There are no special rules to bear in mind...

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Three Eggy Idioms for Easter

Happy Easter! If you need a break from all the chocolate, why not have a look at these eggy idioms and their origin stories? A bad egg A ‘bad egg’ is someone who is disappointing or a bad influence. Here is the idiom used in an example sentence: James fell in with a group of bad eggs who got him in trouble. The idiom certainly derives from the irritation felt when cracking an egg only to find it has gone off. One early use of the phrase is in this 1856 issue of the Milwaukee Daily American: "Mayor Wood is moving heaven and earth to procure his renomination. One of his dodges is, to get up letters in the newspaper, pretending to emanate from 'distinguished...

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Use Commas in Direct Speech

Commas have a variety of functions and many people are uncertain of how to use them. The main purpose of a comma is to clarify meaning by grouping together specific parts of the sentence. Each group within the sentence is separated by a comma which marks a slight break. Earlier this year we looked at how to use commas in a list. Scroll down to read about how to use commas in direct speech. What is direct speech? In writing, there are two types of speech: direct speech and reported speech. The term direct speech refers to when the actual words of a speaker are quoted in the text. For example: ‘I love you,’ he said. Reported speech (also known as indirect speech)...

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Commonly Confused Words: Son vs. Sun

Now that springtime is finally here, we thought we would look at a weather-appropriate word! Scroll down to read about the differences between sun and son and for tricks to help you tell them apart. What does each word mean? The word son is used to describe male offspring. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is son used in some example sentences: They had two sons and one daughter. The son and daughter each inherited an equal share in the family business. Click here to create a Spellzone vocabulary list including the word son. The sun is the star at the centre of our solar system. It is the source of light and heat for the planets. The...

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Commonly Confused Words: Curb vs. Kerb

What does each word mean? The word curb is a verb used to describe the act of restraining or restricting something. As a noun, the word can also describe the restraint or restriction itself. In American English, curb also refers to the edge between a sidewalk (pavement) and a road. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is curb used in some example sentences: He needs to learn how to curb his temper. In England, there are curbs on watching television without a license. Click here to create a Spellzone vocabulary list including the word curb. In British English, the word kerb describes the raised edge that separates a road from the pavement. ...

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Words and Idioms about Mothers and Parenting

Happy Mother’s Day! Here are 20 words and expressions about mothers and parenting. a face only a mother could love – an ugly face a mother has eyes in the back of her head – a mother knows what her children are doing even when she can’t see them a tiger mother – a strict and demanding mother everyone and his mother – lots of people like mother, like daughter – daughters often behave like their mothers did before them mama’s boy – a boy or man who is easily influenced by his mother Mother Goose – a fictitious collector of nursery rhymes from the eighteenth century mother hen – someone who fusses over others in a maternal way mother house – the principle house in a...

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Commonly Confused Words: Complacent vs. Complaisant

What does each word mean? Complacent is adjective that describes one who is ‘contended to a fault with oneself or one’s actions.’ Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is complacent used in some example sentences: After getting a few good grades, I became complacent and now I’m at risk of failing the year. Business is down this year – we can’t afford to be complacent. Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word complacent. Complaisant is adjective that describes someone who shows ‘a cheerful willingness to do favours for others’. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is...

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Tips for Handling Homophones

English is a tricky language to learn and one of the things that makes it so difficult is that it’s full of words that sound the same but have different meanings or spellings. These words are called homophones. In the past, we’ve looked at many pairs and groups of homophones in our Commonly Confused Words series. This week we’re sharing tips for handling homophones – scroll down to make sure you never mix up your meanings again! Use homophones in the same sentence to show their different meanings. For example: Although we had a ball dancing the night away at the summer ball, we were so tired the next day we had to miss our football practice. My grandmother didn’t have a...

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Word Classes: Part 2

A word class is the category we assign a word to in order to show how it functions in a sentence. In the first part of this article, we looked at adjectives, adverbs, nouns, and verbs. Click here to read it. This week we’re looking at conjunctions, determiners, exclamations, prepositions and pronouns. Conjunction A conjunction is a word used to connect different parts of a sentence. Conjunctions are sometimes called ‘connective words’. Here are some examples of conjunctions functioning in sentences: Sarah threw the ball, but Thomas dropped it. The teachers might have to reschedule the picnic if it rains, or perhaps they’ll plan another activity instead. My dream is to go to...

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Word Classes: Part 1

Often, in our Commonly Confused Words and Word for Wednesday blog posts, we use word classes to describe the way a word functions within a sentence. Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going back to the drawing board. What are the main word classes? What are their functions? There are nine main word classes: adjective, adverb, conjunction, determiner, exclamation, noun, pronoun, preposition, and verb. While this list might look daunting, it is very likely that you are already using words within each of these classes instinctively and correctly. Knowing the names of the word classes is useful for describing what a word is doing in a sentence and for helping you tell apart commonly...

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Thirty Idioms about Love

Happy Valentine’s Day! To celebrate, we’re looking at thirty idioms about love. a match made in heaven – a relationship/pairing in which each member/part perfectly complements the other an item – a couple who are involved in an established relationship better half – partner/spouse birds of a feather flock together – people who have the same outlook/tastes/interests will be found in each other’s company blind date –a meeting between two people who do not know each other, arranged in the hope that a romance might develop between them double date – a social occasion attended by two couples head over heels – intensely in love love is blind – when you love someone, you no...

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English spelling blog Older Blogs


Four Ways to Spell the Long U Sound
How to Use Commas as Part of a List
Commonly Confused Words: A Quick Reference Guide: Part 2
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2016 Spellzone Blog Round Up
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Commonly Confused Words: Dear vs. Deer
Six Ways to Spell the Long I Sound
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Six Ways to Spell the Long A Sound
Idioms and Expressions about the Theatre
Six Ways to Spell the Long O Sound
Commonly Confused Words: Council vs. Counsel
Spooky Spelling
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Commonly Confused Words: Heal vs. Heel
The Seven Ways of Spelling the Long E Sound
Commonly Confused Words: Draw vs Drawer
The History of Denim and Other Cloth from Around the World
English Idioms: The Bake Off Edition
Commonly Confused Words: Tail vs Tale
Commonly Confused Words: Defuse vs. Diffuse
Idioms about Transport and Travel: Part 2
Commonly Confused Words: Adverse vs. Averse
50 Idioms about Transport and Travel: Part 1
Commonly Confused Words: Cue vs. Queue
Top Tips for Forming Abbreviations
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Commonly Confused Words: Coarse vs. Course
Idioms about the Sea
Words from Around the World
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Articles on Interesting Origins
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Capital Letters
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Twenty Five Idioms and Expressions about Chance, Luck, and Opportunity
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