Concepts »


A "fossil" is something which used to be alive, but has now turned into stone. Dinosaur bones are fossils, for example. The process of turning from a living thing into a rock is called "fossilization".

In language learning, "fossilization" is when a learner' bad speaking or writing habits become...

The Blog »

Learning through explanations and learning through examples

When some aspect of English confuses you, what should you do about it? Should you ask a teacher or consult a book? Or try to figure it out for yourself?

If you've been reading PhraseMix for a while, you probably already know what my answer is going to be. In the past, I've written about why you...

Phrase Lists »

Describing a divorce in English

Divorce terminology

When a married couple decides that they don't want to be married anymore, they get divorced.

Sometimes the couple will separate first without getting legally divorced. This can also be called a "trial separation". If they can fix their problems, they might reconcile, which...

Answers »

What's the difference between "still better", "better still", and "better yet"?

I recently got this question on Twitter:

The answer is "no". Here's what each of them means:

Still better

Use this when something was better before,...

Phrase Lists »

English phrases for talking about swimming

Swimming Pool

Phrases to describe the activity of swimming

  • Go swimming
  • Go for a swim
  • Go for a dip (in the pool, in the ocean, etc.)
  • Take a dip (in the pool, in the ocean, etc.)
  • Jump in the pool

Places to swim

  • A "public pool" is available for anyone to swim in, sometimes for free and sometimes for a charge....

Concepts »

Double negative

A "double negative" is a verb like this:

I don't got no money.

This means "I don't have any money." It's called a "double negative" because it has two negative particles:

I don't got no money.

This is a feature of English that's considered incorrect. You shouldn't use it in formal writing or...

Answers »

How should I start and end a business email?

The old way

When I was in elementary school, I remember learning how to write a letter. A business letter was supposed to go like this:

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. (Last name):

(Write the message here.) 



(Your full name)

When I graduated college and started looking for a job, I...

Answers »

When should you use "I" vs. "me" in English sentences?

The words "I" and "me" both refer to yourself. You decide which one to pick based on how they're being used in the sentence. Usually it's easy to decide which one to use:

I like it!

She hit me.

Give it to me.

You use "I" as the subject of a sentence,...

The Blog »

How do you feel about calling yourself "fluent"?

Do you feel comfortable calling yourself "fluent" in English?

I started thinking about this topic recently when I was telling someone about my experiences living in Japan. She asked whether I'm fluent in Japanese, and I started to give my usual complicated answer.

I'm never sure what to say. On...

Phrase Lists »

How to respond to "How are you?", "What's up?", and other conversation starters

How are you?

There are a few questions that English speakers ask at the beginning of a conversation. These questions are simple tools to find out if there are any interesting topics to discuss:

How are you?

How's it going?

What's up?

What's happening?

You've certainly heard these...