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 English Topics and Tips

Pronunciation…the most difficult words

Below are the 20 English words people say incorrectly.

Many are spelled with old-fashioned letter combinations, or have letters that are difficult to say when connected.

Give them a try!

1. Phenomenon (fi-nom-uh-non)

2. Anaesthetist (uh-nes-thi-tist)

3. Remuneration (ri-myoo – nuh-reyshun)

4. Statistics (stuh-tis-tiks)

5. Ethnicity (eth-nis-i-tee)

6. Philosophical (fil-uh-sof-i-kuhl)

7. Provocatively (pruh-vok-uh-tiv)

8. Anonymous (uh-non-uh-muhs)

9. Thesaurus (thi-sawr-uhs)

Grammar Lesson: maybe v. may be

Maybe is an adverb that means “perhaps”.

A: “Do you want to see a movie tonight?”

B:Maybe. What do you want to see?”

A little trick to help: replace maybe with perhaps and see if it still works…

A: “Are you going out tonight?”

B:Perhaps. I’ll see how tired I am later.”

If this sounds OK, then maybe is correct!…fun!

Have you heard of the site

They show photos of the funny mistakes foreign advertisers make in English.

For more advanced English students, see if you can find the mistakes in the ads!

It is a good way to test your vocabulary.

Grammar lesson – shall

Americans and Canadians do not use shall very often, but it is common in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.

We can use it to make offers and suggestions and to ask for advice, usually at the beginning of a sentence.

Shall I turn the TV on?”

Shall we start the meeting?”

Shall I invite Rob to dinner?”

The negative of shall is shall not.

Vocabulary Lesson: fake v. false

fake (adj) = a copy of something that appears to be like something else (usually something expensive)

“I don’t understand why people buy fake designer handbags.”

“We spray fake snow in the window for Christmas.”

false (adj) = artifical/not real

“My grandfather has false teeth.”

“This city is dangerous so you should not have a false sense of security.”

false (adj) = not true

Can I start a sentence with BECAUSE?

Yes…and No!

We do NOT say:

“The party is going to be indoors. Because it is raining.”

“I’m not inviting Adam to the party. Because he’s a troublemaker.”

You DO say:

Because it is raining, we are having the party indoors.”

Because Adam is a troublemaker, I’m not inviting him to the party.”


The ‘must have’ student tool….your dictionary!

While learning English, your dictionary is the most important tool you need.

It is important to buy a dictionary for your level of English. If you are a low-level speaker, get a learner’s dictionary. If you are intermediate or higher, get an advanced dictionary. You can also buy a business English dictionary if that is what you are studying.

Look for these important things before you buy a dictionary:

English Tongue-Twisters

A tongue-twister is a phrase that is difficult to say correctly.  The words ‘twist’ your tongue in circles! They usually use similar sounds like s- and sh-.

The English tongue-twister that people feel is the hardest to say is ‘the sixth sick sheikh’s sixth sheep’s sick‘. Even your teachers cannot say it properly!

Popular ones are:

• She sells seashells by the seashore.

Expression – It is important to/for me…

It is important to me = something you value / want to have

“My family is very important to me.”
“It is important to me to have free time to relax.”

It is important for me =  usually shows something of more serious importance – such as an effect on your health.

Vocabulary Lesson – eldest v. oldest

Eldest and oldest both refer to ‘the greatest in age’.

However, eldest should only be used for people who are related (family), and is almost always refers to brothers and sisters.

In contrast,  oldest can be used for any person, place, or thing in a group.

Both words are almost always paired with the.


  • I am the eldest of my brothers and sisters.