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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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Four Ways to Spell the Long U Sound

One of the reasons why English spelling is so difficult to learn is because, a lot of the time, the same sound is spelled in a variety of ways. In the past we’ve shared blog posts on how to spell the four other vowel sounds: the long /a/ sound, the long /e/ sound, the long /i/ sound, and the long /o/ sound – this week we’re finishing the series with how to spell the long /u/ sound. The long /u/ sound is pronounced like the word ‘you’. Here are four ways of spelling it: Just the Letter U Some words spell the long /u/ sound with just the letter u. These words are usually more than one syllable long with the long /u/ sound in the first syllable. Here are some...

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How to Use Commas as Part of a List

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. 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. Over the year we’ll share tips and advice on the different uses of a comma. This week we’re starting with how to use commas as part of a list. A comma should be used between the different parts of a list. For example: We need to buy potatoes, spinach, soap, and nail polish remover. Next week I’m working on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Do I...

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Commonly Confused Words: A Quick Reference Guide: Part 2

Click here for Commonly Confused Words: A Quick Reference Guide: Part 1 Confusing Words Tricks To Help You Tell Them Apart Adverse vs. Averse Think of the following sentences to help you remember that adverse relates to conditions and averse relates to people: The drugs had adverse side effects. The adverse weather conditions ruined our day. Even though she had a terrible voice, she wasn’t averse to singing the verse. Affect vs. Effect Affect is a verb and is used to describe an action. Effect is a noun and is used to describe the end consequence. Think of the phrase ‘cause and effect’ – use the E at the end of cause to remind you that you need to begin...

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Janus Words

If you’ve read our blog post on where we get our names for the months of the year from, you will know that the month ‘January’ takes its name from Janus the god of beginnings and transitions. Janus’s image – usually depicted with two heads, one looking back into the past and the other looking forward into the future – is often found carved over doorways and gates. A Janus word is a word with contradictory meanings. These words are also known as contronyms and auto antonyms. Here are 20 examples of Janus words used in sentences: Bolt: to fasten/secure, to flee We bolt the door at night. The cat bolted away. Bound: to tie someone or something to a particular spot or thing,...

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17 Spelling and Grammar Goals for 2017

Will 2017 be the year you start working on your spelling and grammar? We hope so! Here are seventeen spelling and grammar goals for 2017: Take the Spellzone Spelling Ability Test New year, new start. Use our test to find out the best point for you to start the Spellzone course from. Find out more about how the test works here. Complete at least one Spellzone unit a week If you’re feeling enthusiastic, set your target number of units per week even higher. Begin a spelling log Create a log of the words you find difficult and learn as much as possible about them. If you know, for example, the word you are trying to spell is a loanword, you can assume it might not follow usual...

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2016 Spellzone Blog Round Up

Happy New Year! Whether you are a regular user of our site or someone who’s just signed up, we hope 2017 will be a great year for improving your spelling. If you’re feeling daunted, perhaps some of these spelling-related New Year’s resolutions might help. In 2016, we launched a new spelling ability test to help users determine the best point to start our spelling course from. Here are some of our other favourite blog posts from over the year: As always we looked pairs and groups of words which are easy to mix up, and we shared tips and tricks to help you remember when to use which word. This year we looked at: aisle vs. isle , affect vs. effect, coarse vs. course, cue vs. queue, adverse...

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Tis the Season for Christmassy Idioms

This year, to get us in the festive spirit, we’ve made a list of all the Chritmassy expressions we could come up with – can you think of any others? a grinch – a grumpy and mean-spirted person a white Christmas – a snowy Christmas all the trimmings – all the traditional accompaniments (usually used in reference to a meal) Bah humbug! – a phrase used to express grumpiness and disdain for Christmas Boxing Day – the day after Christmas (which is a public holiday in Britain) Christmas comes but once a year – since Christmas is celebrated only one time a year,we should make the most of the occasion (this expression is either used to persuade people to help those in need or to persuade...

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Commonly Confused Words: Dear vs. Deer

What does each word mean? Dear is a term of endearment used to refer to a beloved person or to show affection to someone. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is dear used in some example sentences: ‘Pass the salt, dear,’ said Timothy to his daughter. Her late aunt was very dear to her. A dear friend recommended this restaurant to me. Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word dear. Deer are a type of four-legged hoofed animal, the males of which are known for their branchy antlers. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is deer used in an example sentence: In...

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Six Ways to Spell the Long I 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. In past blog posts we’ve looked at how to spell the long /a/ sound, the long /e/ sound, and the long /o/ sound. Here are the six ways of spelling the long /i/ sound: Just the Letter I Some words spell the long /i/ sound with just the letter i. These words are usually more than one syllable long with the long /i/ sound is in the first syllable. Here are some examples: item idea iron irate crisis final pilot silent A few of the words that spell...

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English spelling blog Older Blogs


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Six Ways to Spell the Long A Sound
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