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Varieties of English Spelling

There are several major varieties of English‏‎: American, British, Australian and so on.

This article looks at differences in spelling between these. It is a general guide which covers the majority of cases, however remember that there are exceptions which will need to be taught to your TEFL class on an as-needs basis.

On that note, in general it does not matter which variety of English spelling…

How many words do you know?

How many words do you know?

There’s a fascinating web project which hopes to find out not only how many words you know, but how many words everyone else knows as well.

Since it began it’s measured over 2 million people and the results have just been published. They make fascinating reading, especially as it’s divided into native speakers of English as well as English language learners…

Compound Words in English

A compound word is a word made up from two or more other words joined together. They are often created to describe a new concept or idea and are thus neologisms‏‎.

As a simple example, take the words foot and ball. These were brought together to describe the game: football. Likewise the following are just a few of the many, many compound words in English:
eyesight, airport, overtake, earthworm…

Abbreviations in English Writing

An abbreviation (from the Latin, brevis, meaning short.) is a shortened form of a word or phrase used almost exclusively in print. For example:
LOL = laugh out loud
mins = minutes
abbrv = abbreviation
As you can see, abbreviations are often either the full word shortened or the first letter of each word in the phrase (aka acronyms). They can contain letters and numbers, upper and lowercase.
BBI5 =…

Converse Terms

Converse Terms are pairs of words which refer to the same thing but from opposite sides.

Take for example the picture on the right. There is one action taking place here: a balloon is being passed between two people. However, we can describe this action in different ways depending on whose perspective we look at it from:
The boy gives the balloon to the girl.
The girl takes the…


Homographs are words which have the same spelling but different meanings. They may or may not have the same pronunciation.

Here the word has the same spelling and pronunciation, but different meanings:
bear – beə (a big animal living in Yellowstone park)
bear – beə (to carry a burden or weight)
But in this case the word has same spelling but different pronunciations and meanings:
bow – bəʊ (used…

Roots and English Words

A root is the very simplest form of a word without any affix‏‎es or changes. It cannot be made any smaller and is sometimes known as the base word.

For example, take the word important. This consists of 3 parts:
im (a prefix) + port (the root) + ant (a suffix])
So the root of the word is simply: port.

Often you will find that the…

Synonyms in English

A Synonym is a word which has almost exactly the same meaning as another word. For example:
student – pupil
old – ancient

Note: Compare this with antonyms‏‎ which are words of opposite meanings.
In English, there are no perfect synonyms. Two words may be very similar and appear identical in meaning, but they will be used in slightly different contexts or have a very subtle difference…

A Word A Day

A Word A Day is a simple daily email which anyone can sign up to which sends out a word and definition each day which is useful to help enrich and enlarge vocabulary.

For TEFL teachers it is ideal; with students it is perhaps better suited to advanced learners.

The email is sent out to over 600,000 people daily and consists of

the word…


Homophones are words that sound the same but with very different meanings.

The words are usually spelt differently or, if they are spelt the same, come from different roots. For example, the words may be spelt the same, such as rose (as in the flower) and rose (as in the past verb form‏‎ of rise), or differently, such as two and too.

Homophones are often used…

Antonyms or Opposites in English

An Antonym or Opposite is a word which – generally speaking – has the opposite meaning to another word. For example, the following are antonyms:
big ↔ small
fat ↔ thin
tall ↔ short
old ↔ young
male ↔ female
Some words will have more than one antonym depending on context. For example
big ↔ small, tiny, miniature
And the antonym of antonym? That’s synonym which describes a word having the same meaning…

Sentences‏‎ in English Grammar

A sentence is a group of words‏‎ beginning with a capital letter‏‎ and ending with a full stop/period, exclamation mark or question mark.

It is the written equivalent of an utterance‎.
My name is Conan.
We won!
Is July going to be hot here?

Sentence Types
There are a number of different sentence types in English‏‎ and we use them for different purposes.
To give information…

False Friends in TEFL

False Friends are pairs of words‏‎ or phrases‏‎ in two different languages which look and/or sound similar but which have very different meanings. False Friends are sometimes known as False Cognates.

Learners will often assume the corresponding word or phrase in the target language will have the same meaning as the word or phrase in their mother tongue‏‎. This often leads to mistakes.
Examples of False Friends…