Eyes like a hawk.

Day 7 and time to get honest. Hands up if you have ever handed work in without reading it through first. Tired from writing and hoping for the best? Yep, we’ve all been there.  It’s not wise to return though. They say the devil is in the detail, and it really is.  Careless errors give a poor impression, even if your ideas are outstanding. So do yourself justice and make proofreading a priority. Continue reading


Don’t be a pigeon when you can be a peacock.

In any writing we need to show off the best language we have to offer.  We also need our language to accurately portray our ideas. The adjectives ‘good’, ‘bad’ and ‘interesting’ are used so often and so broadly that they have become, quite frankly, dull. Continue reading

“All past events are historical, but only the most memorable ones are historic.”- William Safire

Day four’s bitesize morsel is related to those pesky words that seem the same, but in actual fact are not.  Take the two adjectives from the title.  Historical merely states that something happened in history, whereas historic describes something that happened as being important in history.  Continue reading

Work, work, work work, work

You can always learn a lesson from Ri Ri. Work and job are probably two of the most often confused words and this confusion often sneaks through into higher levels.  Time to stamp it out.

Key things to remember about WORK:

  • As a verb it describes the general activity and you can also say you work as a magician.
  • As a noun (uncountable) you use work when you are describing the activities that you do within your job role/ at your place of work.
  • Go to work (no article ever, ever, ever).
  • Be at work (no article ever, ever, ever).
  • Finish/start work (no article ever….you get the gist).
  • Being a student is like having a job, so you can say you have lots of work to do (uncountable), but if you want to specify individual things, you need to use the countable words: assignment, project, task, exercise or activity, or say piece of work.
  • As a noun (countable) you use work(s) when referring to the arts. Eg. Picasso produced many great works of art.


Key things to remember about JOB:

  • Only a noun (countable).
  • Referring to what work you do, the word job describes your profession.
  • At home we often say we have some (odd) jobs to do when we refer to chores.


With today being International Workers’ Day, you can have the day off, but for extra collocations check out Espresso English’s page on work, job and career.

No picture for this post.  What image would you put for work?


What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Cock-a-doodle-do! Day 2.

Many Spanish students learn the spelling rule ‘gallina, huevo, tortilla’ to remember the order of letters in words such as light, fight, bright, sight etc.  It’s a great little mnemonic, but as we progress we need to recognise where it works and where it doesn’t.  If we take a look at those words, the ‘gh’ does not make a sound, but it makes the vowel change from a weak to a strong sound. The ‘t’ is sounded at the end of the word.

Compare with words such as length and strength.  Here we have made an omelette without breaking an egg.  What we need to remember is that this type of word is the noun form of the adjective. Strong- strength and long- length. As the adjective ends with ‘g’, this is retained in spelling and sound, and the ‘th’ is added to finish the transformation into a noun.

The ‘th’ ending is a common one for nouns describing qualities:

  • long- length
  • strong- strength
  • wide-width
  • broad- breadth

Nevertheless, ‘height’ and ‘weight’ have a foot in both camps. They follow the ‘ght’ pattern so only the ‘t’ is sounded, yet they are similar to the qualities we’ve just looked at. What’s more ‘height’ is pronounced /haɪt/, whereas ‘weight’ is pronounced /weɪt/. Sorry!

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions” – Ken Blanchard.

Writing is often thought of as one of the tasks that you can just get on with on your own, yet it can actually be quite daunting as there are so many things to take into consideration, especially in exam conditions.  Therefore, feedback is essential.  We can’t reach perfection overnight (basically because it doesn’t exist), but we can be constantly improving.  So, after a bit of a hiatus, I’m back with some ways to tidy up and improve our written tasks.  I’ll be giving you a daily dose of fresh feedback for 7 days to clear up doubts relating to spelling, confusing words and how to upgrade certain sentences in a natural way.

So let’s start with day one. Take a look at the words with some bold highlighting.  Different spelling, exactly the same pronunciation though.  Why? Languages are not something that sprung up one day, rather they are the amalgamation of other languages and have always influenced each other. These different endings very much depend on the Latin root.

However, the general rule is simple. Use -cial after a vowel (exceptions: commercial, financial, pronvincial) and -tial after a consonant (exceptions: initial, spatial).  The last exception there is actually just an alternative spelling.

Ever been in a quandry as to whether you should use the adverb especially or specially? It’s a tricky one as their meaning can overlap.  Settle any doubts you might have here: What’s the difference between especially and specially?

“There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance.”


So this week in CAE Compact we looked at feedback on our essays on poverty. The students’ ideas were great, but with a little tweaking to the language used, and including more variety, their essays would have been truly great.

Mother Teresa said, “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” In my view no thesaurus should suffer this plight. A thesaurus can give your language such richness. For example, instead of always saying ‘poor’ we could use: Continue reading