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In the news: an emoji wins word of the year!

Average: 4 (7 votes)

Every year The Oxford English Dictionary announces its Word of the Year. The word need not have been coined within the past twelve months but it does need to have become prominent or notable during that time. The chosen word is considered the most important word or expression during the specific year.

Brush off/aside/up/with

Average: 4 (7 votes)

You may know about brushing your hair with a brush or that you brush the dirt off a seat before you sit down, but do you know these other brush words?

Brush with

A brief encounter with something notable or unpleasant is a brush with. It's used for situations in which you experience or nearly experience something.

Being interviewed by a local TV station was my only brush with fame.

If for example you nearly die, you have a brush with death.

Idiom: In a state

Average: 3 (7 votes)

In a state, particularly in British English, is used informally for a couple of situations.

When someone becomes nervous or upset, they are in a state:

Nervous: She gets herself into a real state worrying about her exams.

Upset: James has been in a terrible state since his girlfriend broke up with him.

State is also used casually to describe something that is messy, untidy or chaotic.

Un Prefix

Average: 3.5 (80 votes)

Un is a prefix meaning not. It's used to give opposite and negative meanings to adjectives, adverbs and nouns.

10 Common Un- Prefixes


Root word: Able.

Meaning: To not be able to do something.

Example: She's unable to attend tomorrow's meeting.


Root word: Aware.

Meaning: To not know something.

Example: I was unaware the plans had changed.


Root word: Beat.

In the news: books you can drink!

Average: 3.6 (58 votes)

They say that reading is good for you, but did you know that it can also _1_ your life?

The Drinkable Book is a new _2_ that is both a water filter and an instruction manual for how and why to clean drinking water.

In developing countries, access to clean water is _3_. According to the World Health Organization, more than 3.4 million people _4_ each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene related causes. Nearly 100% of deaths occur in the developing world.

What does No-brainer mean?

Average: 3.4 (19 votes)

Two news articles caught my eye (attracted my attention) today:

Washington Post Headline
Why accepting the Iran nuclear deal is a no-brainer

The Guardian Headline
Harry Kewell says joining Watford to coach their Under-21s 'was a no-brainer'

What does no-brainer mean?

When something requires little or no thought, it is a no-brainer. It's an easy decision or choice to make.

No-brainer is a noun, the plural form is no-brainers.

In the news: a new flag for New Zealand

Average: 3.5 (19 votes)

The people of New Zealand are being given the chance to choose the design of a new flag. The Flag Consideration Project set up a website for people to design and upload ideas for a new national flag.

What are proper adjectives?

Average: 3.4 (16 votes)
In English most nouns are common nouns: house, car, grass, and dentist.

Other types of nouns are proper nouns (or real nouns).

Real nouns start with a capital letter: Spain, Brad, and Pizza Hut.

What are proper adjectives?

This is the same with adjectives.

Most adjectives are common adjectives: slow, modern, red, and exciting.

Proper adjectives start with a capital letter: Spanish, Martian, and Russian.

Proper adjectives are usually derived (formed) from proper nouns.

Spain = Spanish

Mars = Martian

10 sentences, 10 mistakes! But can you find them all?

Average: 3.4 (102 votes)

Below are ten sentences. Each sentence has one mistake. Only choose one option per sentence.

Use the comments area to explain what the mistakes are, why they are mistakes and what the correct sentence should be!

Which question is the most difficult? We think number nine!

What are minimal pairs?

Average: 3.6 (15 votes)

A minimal pair or close pair consists of two words with sounds that are very similar but have different meanings.

For example, rot and lot may sound similar, especially to some non-native English speakers.

Below are ten other examples of minimal pairs, in the each sentence choose the correct word. Try saying the words out aloud, do you notice how similar they sound?