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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 confused...

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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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Commonly Confused Words: Rain vs. Reign vs. Rein

What does each word mean? The word rain is used as both a noun (to describe water that falls in drops from the vapour condensed in the atmosphere) and as a verb (to describe the act of water droplets falling from the sky). Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is rain used in some example sentences: The rain was heavy in the morning but slowed to a light drizzle by lunchtime. It rained heavily in the morning but at lunchtime the sun came out. The soldier dodged the bullets raining down on him and searched for cover. Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word rain. As a noun, reign refers to the period during which...

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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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English spelling blog Older Blogs


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
Top Tips from the Archive
Commonly Confused Words: Coarse vs. Course
Idioms about the Sea
Words from Around the World
Thirty Idioms About Talking
Articles on Interesting Origins
Commonly Confused Words: Broach vs. Brooch
Capital Letters
Commonly Confused Words: Ascent vs. Assent
Twenty Five Idioms and Expressions about Chance, Luck, and Opportunity
Commonly Confused Words: Cereal vs. Serial
Five Tips for Adding Suffixes
Commonly Confused Words: Dual vs. Duel
Commonly Confused Words: Commonly Confused Words: Borne Vs. Born
Twenty Five Idioms about Keeping and Spilling Secrets
Commonly Confused Words: Who's vs. Whose
Commonly Confused Words: Pore vs. Pour
What is the correct plural of 'octopus'?
Commonly Confused Words: Affect Vs. Effect
Useful Idioms for the World of Business: Part 2
Useful Idioms for the World of Business: Part 1
Word for Wednesday: Health
I before E except after C: The Most Famous English Spelling Rule and its Exceptions
Word for Wednesday: Sugar
Word for Wednesday: Mumuration
Word for Wednesday: Deal
Confused Words: Aisle vs. Isle
Word for Wednesday: Button
Five Tips for Spelling Words with Silent Letters

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