Among the growing number of 'Top 10 lists' at Merriam-Webster online dictionary are two sets on confusing words. Here are a couple of exercises based on them.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
Practise using some, any, somebody, anybody etc, with these gapfull exercises. And also check out some related idioms and expressions.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Christmas cracker jokes are written almost to a formula, and make great use of corny puns. We like to groan at how awful they are, but they are a quintessential part of a British Christmas. Some are on Christmas themes, many are not. I found most of the jokes here in several places on the Internet, so I don't think I'm treading on anybody's copyright toes.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
These three nouns often have very similar meanings, but are sometimes used in slightly different ways. Judging by the number of questions asked about them on forums, learners can find them quite confusing. In fact I think it's even difficult for a native speaker to explain the difference; we just trust our instincts. So let's try to work them out.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
A recent discussion at GrammarGirl (link below) about the active voice talked a lot about unaccusative verbs and semantic patients in its explanation. I'm not convinced of the wisdom of using these specialist linguistic terms on a website read by a general audience of native speakers and learners. I have a slight suspicion that more than a few will have been more confused at the end than they were at the beginning.
But in the interests of understanding, I've tried to put these terms into some sort of scheme, while at the same time looking at different terms used for types of verbs, both by linguists and by more general grammar books. I hope this will be interesting, but I'm not suggesting that there is any need for the general reader or learner to learn these specialist terms.
Disclaimer - Please don't take this as any kind of gospel. As usual, I make no claims to be either a grammarian or a linguist. This is simply my way of trying to work it all out. Any linguists who might happen to stumble on this are welcome to let me know if I've gone wrong.
We'll be looking briefly at the following:
- Main (lexical) verbs and auxiliary (helping) verbs
- Transitive, intransitive verbs and linking verbs
- Subjects and objects, agents and targets (patients)
- Ambitransitive and ergative verbs
- Unaccusative verbs and unergative verbs
- Empty verbs and inchoative verbs
- Dynamic and stative verbs
- Finite and non finite verbs forms