What’s the difference between deception and deceit?

difference between deception and deceitHere’s another confusing pair of words. Deceit and deception are both nouns, both loosely used to describe the act of deceiving. The act of deceiving being the act of concealing the truth or otherwise being misleading or false. In many situations the words can be used interchangeably – grammatically speaking it is rare that you will find a sentence where both words do not fit in the same sentence without the same general meaning. However, the sentences may offer different connotations. Continue reading

Halloween Vocabulary Exercise

halloween vocabulary exerciseIt’s that fun time of year where the English speaking world prepares for Halloween – with scary stories, films and costumes. Which means it’s also the time of year to practice our Halloween vocabulary – words which cover a range of frightening topics, emotions and mythical creatures! Build your vocab with my nasty nouns and abysmal adjectives, then see if you can complete the exercise below.

Mixed Halloween Vocabulary Exercise

Match the following descriptions with the words below.

  1. Something that is not from this world.
  2. The practice of magic or sorcery.
  3. An ugly, giant creature.
  4. A very old person who wants to suck your blood.
  5. Dead people who refuse to stay dead.
  6. A box to bury dead bodies in.
  7. Illumination from the moon.
  8. A characterisation of Death.
  9. A carved pumpkin that we put a candle in.
  10. The worst kind of dream.
  11. The remains of a person without flesh or muscles.
  12. A home where you find ghosts (or worse!).
  13. A magical person with wings.
  14. An enchantment, poems or other words that create magic.
  15. A person who changes into a wolf.
  • a. fairy
  • b. witchcraft
  • c. werewolf
  • d. moonlight
  • e. spell
  • f. zombies
  • g. haunted house
  • h. skeleton
  • i. coffin
  • j. jack’o’lantern
  • k. the grim reaper
  • l. nightmare
  • m. ogre
  • n. supernatural
  • o. vampire

Answers to the Exercise

  1. n – supernatural
  2. b – witchcraft
  3. m – ogre
  4. o – vampire
  5. f – zombies
  6. i – coffin
  7. d – moonlight
  8. k – the grim reaper
  9. j – jack’o’lantern
  10. l – nightmare
  11. h – skeleton
  12. g – haunted house
  13. a – fairy
  14. e – spell
  15. c – werewolf

10 Easily Confused Sets of Words and Phrases Explained

easily confused words and phrasesA few weeks ago I wrote an article about the differences between the words plain and plane; it’s one of many articles I have on this site exploring confusing, or easily misunderstood, words and phrases. With so much content on this site, I thought it was time I created a quick, simple list of such articles so you can quickly learn the differences. I’ve placed example sentences beneath each heading so you can get an idea of what you’ll learn.  Continue reading

Christmas Vocabulary – a list of words to bring you joy

christmas vocabulary listIt’s fast approaching what the English speaking world sometimes call the most wonderful time of the year (as in a classic Andy Williams Christmas song). We are already in advent, the 24 days leading up to Christmas itself – so it’s time to brush up on some Christmas vocabulary, and get in the spirit of talking about nothing else until January! Here’s a list of some important Christmas words, and considerations for their wider use: Continue reading

How to choose between “In particular” and “particularly”

particularly in particular difference

Particularly and in particular are used in English when we want to highlight something important, or individual. Both uses of particular have the same meaning, but are used in different ways. We could also say in specific and specifically (which is more formal but has the same meaning). Continue reading

The difference between ‘few’ and ‘a few’

difference between few and a fewOften, the gap between intermediate and advanced use of English is knowing the subtle differences between almost identical words and phrases. One example is the difference between the word few and the phrase a few. Both can, essentially, refer to the same number, but they have opposite implications: few is generally negative (drawing attention to a low number), and a few is generally positive (suggesting the low number is not a problem). These examples should help explain: Continue reading

Brighton Fringe and Brighton Festival: Reading and Vocab

brighton fringe festival

A brief description of the Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe. For general information or as reading practice for learners of English. I’ve included some descriptions of the language in use below to help develop vocabulary skills.

For anyone lucky enough to be in Brighton during May, both the Brighton Festival and Brighton Festival Fringe are almost upon us. Founded in 1966, these massive events span the whole city, running for most of of the month of May, and were previously combined to form the largest multi-form art festival in England. They divided to form 2 separate festivals in 2006, though both festivals cling to the largest festival claim.

Brighton Fringe

As a completely open access festival, anyone can put on an event in Brighton Fringe, with inclusion in a brochure and listing on the website. For a fee. All art forms are included, with no judgement criteria to limit involvement. It helps both new and established artists attract fresh audiences, press and promotion.

More than half of the talent involved in Brighton Fringe is home-grown, from Brighton and Hove. In 2012 it included 743 individual events, 171 free events, and 3622 performances spread over 193 venues. The numbers for 2013 are expected to be much higher! It includes tons of free events, as well as affordable ticketed ones. Check out the specifics of what’s on here.

Brighton Festival

The difference between Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe is the open-access element.strange float at the brighton childrens parade Brighton Festival is a curated event, so the performances and events involved are all commissioned and supported by the festival organisers. There is a lot of overlap between the sort of events you will see at Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe, but the Brighton Festival ones have the potential to be larger. For instance, the Brighton Festival opens with the Children’s Parade on May 4th, a huge event where the children of local schools march through town with a host of extravagant floats.

Other events you can expect to see at both events include theatre, film screenings, dance, art, stand-up comedy, opera and kids events in both indoor and outdoor venues, day and night, throughout the city. Check out more Brighton Festival events here.

Example Vocabulary Explanations


almost upon us – almost here, used to say something is happening soon, or will come soon.

founded – started or originated.

span the whole city – to span is to cover, or spread across, so this means it stretches across the city.

cling – hold onto.

open access – when access is open, anyone can gain entry.

inclusion – the noun form of include, to be made a part of.

judgement criteria – the items/values that something will be judged on.

home-grown – something that is locally produced.

curated – to curate is to care for, but we use it to refer to a person responsible for  locations and events. Most commonly a curator organises exhibitions, for instance ina  museum.

commissioned – something that is officially requested.

potential – possibility

extravagant floats – extravagant is something very elaborate and fancy. A float is usually a large handmade display in a parade.

Reflexive pronouns – uses and exercises

reflexive pronounsReflexive pronouns are used in English to refer to a noun, adjective, adverb or pronoun when the subject is the same as the object in a clause. Here’s an example: Bob dresses himself. The subject, Bob does the action to him, also the subject, but the pronoun changes to a reflexive pronoun because he is the object, too. You might remember it like being a mirror image – He sees himself – the subject and object refer to the same thing, but himself represents a reflection of the subject.  Continue reading

Adjectives and Adverbs: a brief guide


adjectives and adverbs, good well

Adjectives and adverbs are describing words. For definitions of words, see here, or for examples, see this extensive list. They add details to other components of a sentence. They can be used in a variety of ways, and some uses have regional variations. Generally, however, the simplest way to think of them is that adjectives describe nouns (subjects, objects, things), whilst adverbs describe almost all other word types. The following rules should help you choose when you need to decide on an adjective or adverb: Continue reading

Best English grammar book for learning and practice

best english grammar bookWhenever I recommend just one English grammar book, I suggest Raymond Murphy’s English Grammar in UseThe English Grammar in Use series covers all areas, Basic, Intermediate and Advanced, though the one I find most useful is Intermediate. The large selection of grammar points in the Intermediate book is suitable for students of all levels above elementary, either to learn more or to review. Each point has easy-to-follow examples and exercises. It works as a useful accompaniment to test the lessons taught in The English Tenses.

Though it is excellent for self-study, I sometimes also use this book for teaching, as the grammar rules are clear and well-organised. Continue reading