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Containers

English has lots of words for different containers of different sizes, shapes, and uses. Sometimes containers are defined by what they look like. For example, a "roll" is cylinder-shaped (round and long).

But there are other containers which are hard to specifically define. A "carton", for...

Concepts »

Word order

Word order in statements

Subjects and verbs

Subjects usually come first in English sentences. The verb comes afterward. They can be simple:

He | lied.

Or more complicated:

Over a dozen of the plane's passengers | died.

 

Objects

When the sentence has an object, it comes after the verb....

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Bottlenecks

Bottle

In English, the word "bottleneck" describes something that slows down a process.

Think about the shape of a wine bottle. The bottom part is wider, but in order for the wine to pour out, it has to pass through the narrow "neck" of the bottle. This limits how quickly you can...

The Blog »

What's funny to you in English?

Laughing

When I was in college, I studied the plays of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is probably the greatest writer in the English language, but he wrote several hundred years ago. So some of his plays can be hard to understand for modern English speakers.

The comedies were especially hard to...

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Questions you might be asked in an English job interview

Meeting Room

In a job interview, an employer usually wants to learn a few basic things about  you: your experience, your goals, and your personality. How they find out this information can vary quite a bit, though. It's useful to expose yourself to some of the kinds of questions that interviewers...

Answers »

What's the difference between 'small' and 'little'?

Little frog

This is a question that I answered on Quora.com. Someone asked "What is the difference between 'small' and 'little'?Here is what I wrote:

This english.stackexchange page has a detailed discussion of the difference between 'little' and 'small': Difference between "little"...

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English for talking about clothing: shirts (Part 2)

Describing materials

To talk about a shirt's fabric, use these phrases:

What's it made of?

What's this material?

Here are some materials that shirts can be made of:

  • cotton
  • nylon (a soft, shiny synthetic material)
  • polyester (a harder synthetic material)
  • spandex (a...

Phrase Lists »

Phrases for talking about a dirty house

My room

If someone's house or apartment is messy, here are some phrases that you can use to describe it:

  • There are clothes strewn all over the floor.
  • There's food splattered all over the microwave.
  • There are crumbs all over the counter.

(As you can see, we use the phrase...

Phrase Lists »

15 ways to say "Goodbye" in English

Woman waving goodbye.

English speakers like a lot of variety in their everyday language. We have lots of different expressions for saying simple things. Previous articles have covered lots of ways to say "Hello" and "Thank you." This article does the same for different ways to say "goodbye".

Formal goodbyes

  • Goodbye....

Answers »

How to use 'a', 'an', and 'the' in English

English articles ("a", "an", and "the") come before nouns. They help to communicate which thing you're talking about, similar to words like "this", "my", and "all". And they're confusing to a lot of English learners. 

Articles are really, really hard!

If your native language doesn't use...