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Metaphors and Imagery

What is a metaphor? A metaphor is figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. They can be useful when explaining abstract or unfamiliar ideas or concepts , as they enable the writer to utilise imagery that may be more familiar to the reader. For example, “love is a fruit in season at all times and in reach of every hand” is a metaphor used by Mother Theresa to explain an abstract concept (love) using a universally-understood image (fruit). Metaphors are generally considered to be ...
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Linguistic clichés

What are clichés? Linguistic clichés are phrases in which at least one of the words is constrained in its use by convention. They differ from idioms in that their meaning can be understood without already being familiar with the phrase, and they tend not to add any additional meaning to your writing or speech. They are simply used out of habit. Examples of clichés include: No matter what Above all else In the wrong place at the wrong time One thing after another Better safe than sorry Is is bad English to use clichés? Clichés are a normal part of ...
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Top tips for making your English more polite

Politeness and courtesy are qualities that are valued in most societies, but it can be difficult to know how to modify what you say to make it more polite when English isn’t your native language Use please and thank you The most basic terms for making what you say sound more polite is to use please and thank you. However, ensure you are using them in the correct context, or you may sound insincere. Please can be used at the start or end of a sentence when you are asking for something e.g. “Please can I pet your dog?” Or ...
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How do intonation and word stress affect the way we speak English?

Intonation Intonation- the rise and fall of the voice as we speak -is common to all languages and affects the way our speech is understood and interpreted. It is distinct from accent, although regional accents may well have a common intonation. For example, the regional accent of south Wales is often described as “sing-song” due to its musicality. Intonation also differs from stress (the emphasis we place on different parts of a word), which can also vary by country or region, most notably in the differences between British and American English. Intonation in English can be distinguished by two main ...
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What is denominalisation and when should I use it?

Denominalisation, or verbing as it is also known, describes converting a noun into a verb. It is a phenomenon that has become increasingly common in English as we shorten our speech to make it quicker and easier to say what we want. Some denominalisations have been used so frequently and for such a period of time that we hardly notice them at all, for example if you ‘book’ a table at a restaurant or ‘foot’ the bill. Others have been converted from noun to verb more recently, or are only used in specific contexts, making them sound like jargon. For ...
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The Unusual Origins of English Idioms

English is a language rich in idiomatic phrases, which add character and variety to our speech. It is often difficult to pinpoint the exact origins of many of the idioms we use, simply because they may well have been in use in spoken English long before they made their way into text. Nevertheless, the ideas and imagery we use when expressing ourselves reveal a lot about the history and culture of English-speaking peoples. Historical and mythological idioms Most likely originally coined by those wanting to show off their knowledge of history and ancient mythology, which was a hallmark of learning ...
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