Category Archives: English Vocabulary

How to Tell the Difference Between Libel and Slander

Use libel when you are referring to defamatory comments that are written.

Use slander when you are referring to defamatory comments that are spoken. Hope you’ve got them on tape or some watertight witnesses!

Avoid saying verbal slander because you don’t need to say it to be clear!

Remember this tip if you’re having trouble keeping the two separate in your mind. Think of the “s” for “slander” and the “s” for spoken and you’re set!

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How to Build Your Vocabulary

When you leave school or college, someone will inevitably point out that it is not the end but only the beginning of learning. The speaker is right, of course. No educational process is the end. It is always the beginning of more learning and more living. And that is the case here. What has happened to you as a result of your reaction to the material and suggestion in this site is only the beginning of your development. To stop increasing your vocabulary is to stunt your intellectual growth. But to continue to grow intellectually as long as you remain alive with the momentum that your weeks of hard work have provided will not be at all difficult. You can maintain a clever, astute and erudite persona whether you’re adolescent or octogenarian. This article will spell out how to find, learn, and use, ostentatious words so other people will kick up their estimates of the level of your intelligence. And here is a little secret: If you can learn to utilize words of this ilk, you doubtless are pretty sharp to begin with. Continue reading

How to Teach Vocabulary by Creating a Monster

If your students or children are learning vocabulary, why not try creating a monster for fun? Vocabulary lessons, especially for basic words, can become boring drudgery if not made interesting. Fun, participatory lessons will make it easier for students to learn and remember new words. Because monsters are made up, children and adults alike can have fun inventing crazy features for them to have.

Introduce different body parts in the language you’re teaching. Monsters can have the usual body parts that people have, like faces, feet, arms, ears, hands, and heads. They can also have animal body parts like antennae, fangs, tails, wings, and fur. Especially if you’re working with kids, don’t forget the fun parts, like belly buttons and eyelashes. Basic-building-blocks

Basic building blocks.

Talk about different colors. Body parts on fanciful monsters can come in all kinds of different colors. Red-hair-and-green-fur

Red hair and green fur.

Discuss what monsters wear. Some monsters have terrible fashion sense.


A monstrous wardrobe.

Mix in some other adjectives. Monster parts could be scary or funny, sharp or round, curly or straight, big or small. Be creative, and think of a variety of different adjectives. Brainstorm adjectives together with the class.
Add prepositions if the class is ready for them. Does the monster have blue fur on its big belly? Does it have sharp teeth in its mouth? What does it have in its pockets or up its sleeve? Do-you-know-where-your-monster-is

Do you know where your monster is?

Give students paper and crayons or colored pencils and have fun creating monsters of all sorts.

Have them label the defining features of their monsters. Take turns presenting the monsters to the class.

Turn the activity around. Have everybody write down the description of a monster in words, then trade descriptions and draw somebody else’s monster. Or, have students team up and describe (but not show) a monster they drew. See which team can describe their monsters most accurately to each other.

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How to Use Assure, Ensure and Insure

The definitions of the three verbs assure, ensure, and insure overlap enough to make them synonyms in some cases. This article may assure you of their proper usage, ensure that you know how to use them, and insure you against being accused of poor grammar.

Use “assure” when you want to set someone’s mind at ease. It is the same as “reassure”.

Use “ensure” when you want to provide a guarantee that something is certain or secure.

  • To ensure your cooperation, we have posted armed guards throughout the facility.
  • “To win the War, to overcome the enemy upon the fields cannot alone ensure the Victory in Peace. The cause of War must be removed.” (Haile Selassie I)

Use “insure” when you want to provide a guarantee against a risk of damage or loss. This is generally done through the payment of a premium. It indicates the assumption of liability.

  • Tippecanoe Mutual will insure your vehicle for accidental damage or theft.
  • “Humankind has become so much one family that we cannot insure our own prosperity except by insuring that of everyone else.” (Bertrand Arthur William Russell)
  • An example of all three in one sentence: As your representative, I assure you that I will ensure you can insure your home.

How to Use Than and Then

Many times people misuse the words “than” and “then.” Whether it’s because the words are pronounced similarly in some areas or because people simply don’t know the difference between them, it is important to know in which situations to choose each word. Follow this guide below, and then you’ll be using these words better than anyone you know!

Use than as a word indicating comparison. When you are talking about a noun (thing, person, place or concept) being more, less, better, cooler, dumber, etc. in relation to another noun, the word than is necessary. Use-than-as-a-word-indicating-comparison
Use then as a word indicating time. When you want to tell about a sequence of events or are giving instructions in a step-by-step order, the word then is necessary.

  • First there were four, and then there were two.
  • Wash the clothes, then put them in the dryer.
Pronounce the words differently. Both words contain one gliding vowel, and they are similar. Phonetically speaking, native speakers of English use the schwa (ǝ, kind of like a soft “eh” sound) because it’s more efficient and allows words to be slurred together quickly in daily conversations. Consequently, lots of “a”s and “e”s are not pronounced distinctly.

  • Than is said with the mouth opened widely and the tongue pressed down toward the teeth. The vowel sounds from the back of the mouth and the throat is somewhat constricted.
  • Then is more said with the mouth partially opened. The vowel rises from a relaxed throat and the tongue rests.
Test your usage. Ask yourself these questions when you’re writing a sentence:

  • If I write the word next instead of then, will the sentence still make sense?
    • I will go to the store next makes sense, so here we would say I will go to the store then.
    • I like apples better next papayas makes no sense. So we must be looking for I like apples better than papayas.
  • If I write the phrase in comparison to instead of than, will the sentence still make sense?
    • It costs more in comparison to a new car makes sense, so you’d want to say It costs more than a new car.
    • You’ll never guess what happened to me in comparison to does not make sense at all. Now you’ll know you want to say You’ll never guess what happened to me then!
Recognize incorrect examples and learn from the mistakes.

  • Wrong: I’m a better speller then you!
  • Wrong: I feel that astrophysics is less interesting then horticulture.
  • Wrong: She is going to stop to get snacks, than we’ll go to the library together.
  • Wrong: Our parents used to go out to eat every now and than.
  • Right: Learn grammar rules. Then you will be smarter than your average bear.
Practice frequently. Pay attention when you write essays or letters. Use instant messages, e-mails and text messages to practice your good spelling skills (rather than as an opportunity to neglect them). You never know when you’ll have to use one of those communication methods for something important!