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Idiom of the Day: Smell a Rat

Average: 2.3 (235 votes)

Have you ever felt that someone is telling you something that is not true? Perhaps they are trying to lie to you. In that case, you smell a rat!

When we feel that something someone or something is not honest, we smell a rat.

"I smell a rat. If John was off from work all week because he was sick, why has he got a suntan?"

Much or Many?

Average: 3.5 (273 votes)

We use use much and many in questions and negative sentences. They both show an amount of something.

Use 'Much' with uncountable nouns

We use much with singular nouns.

Question: "How much petrol is in the car?"
Negative clause: "We don't have much time left."

How to use Articles

Average: 3.6 (221 votes)

What's wrong with this sentence?

"Boy played in the park."

The problem is that the noun 'boy' (the subjects) cannot be used without an article. We could say, for example, 'The boy', 'A boy' or 'My neighbour's boy'. Generally, the articles a and the are used with nouns.

When to use The

Use the before singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific.


Average: 3.6 (182 votes)

Native speakers usually use contractions especially when speaking. We make contractions by connecting two or more words together. One or more letters are removed from the words when they are connected.

I contractions

I am → I'm →"I'm older than you."

I had →I'd → "I'd better do my homework."

I have → I've → "I've always liked sushi."

Lonely or Alone?

Average: 4.3 (27 votes)

Let's take a look at a couple of words that are often confused by English learners, alone and lonely.

If you are sitting in a room and there are no other people in the room, you are alone. Alone simply means without other people.

"I used to live with my parents, now I live alone."

In the News: Google Glass

Average: 4.4 (20 votes)

On Wednesday, Google finally _1_ its latest much-talked about product, 'Google Glass'.

Hear or Listen?

Average: 3.5 (23 votes)

A while ago we looked at how to use look, see and watch; today we at two other verbs connected to our senses: hear and listen.


We use hear for sounds that come to us when we are not expecting to hear them, i.e. we are not trying to hear something. We hear something without trying to.

Three meanings of Afraid

Average: 4.2 (19 votes)

On Sunday my young daughter asked what afraid means. Good question. I was going to say it means 'scared' until I realised that it has more than one meaning.

Afraid is a useful word for English learners to know because it can be used in a few different ways. Let's take a look.

Afraid as 'scared'

When we are afraid we have a fear of something or are scared.

Are you afraid of dogs?
Yes, I am very afraid of dogs.

Unless and If

Average: 3.4 (334 votes)

Often when we are talking about present situations, we use unless instead of if...not.

Unless means except if or simply it means if...not.

Both of these examples have the same meaning and refer to the present time.

Word of the Day: Fan

Average: 3.9 (23 votes)

screw up

Today's joke is based on the double-meaning of fan.

The big objects you can see in the picture are wind turbines. They look like large fans - the machines you use to keep you cool.