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Should I learn to speak with an American or British accent?


People often ask me what variety of English they should learn. Here's my honest answer:

It doesn't matter.

Here's why:

Accents are hard to change.

It's really, really hard to pick up a native-sounding accent if you learn English as an adult. Children pick up accents very...

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Is there any difference between "it's not working" and "it doesn't work"?

A lot of English learners have trouble knowing when to use a simple verb ("it works") and when to use a progressive verb ("it's working"). For example, one PhraseMix reader asked, "Is there any difference between 'it's not working' and 'it doesn't work'?"

It's not working

If something "is not...

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Excited or exciting, interested or interesting, etc.

English learners often have trouble figuring out whether to use the "-ing" ending or "-ed" ending for adjectives that express emotions. Some examples of these adjectives are:

  • exciting/excited
  • interesting/interested
  • boring/bored
  • amazing/amazed
  • confusing/confused

An easy way to remember

The easy...

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What's the difference between "college" and "university" in English?

The words "college" and "university" are used differently in different parts of the world, so you should pay attention to how people around you are using these words.

Two-year schools

In Canada, for example, "college" is specifically a two-year school that people go to after high school.

In much...

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Is "I'm loving it" correct grammar?

A few years ago, McDonalds restaurants started a TV commercial campaign with the slogan:

"I'm lovin' it."


Some people complained that it was bad grammar. Traditionally, "love" has been used as a stative verb. Stative verbs (such as "like", "want", "smell", and "feel") are not used...

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What's the difference between "care about" and "care for"?

The phrases "care about" and "care for" each have several meanings The best way to learn them is with some examples.

Care for

I didn't care for that movie.

"I don't care for ___" means that you don't like something. You usually use this when you're talking about food, movies, or something bad...

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What is the difference between "salary" and "wage"?

Generally, people who get paid a "salary" get their money monthly, and get the same amount each month. A salary usually doesn't change based on the number of hours you work. 

If you get paid a "salary", you usually say things like "I make $30,000 a year."

If you get paid a wage, it usually...

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What is the difference between a "distant family member" and an "extended family member"?

An extended family member is anyone other than your:

  • mother/father
  • husband/wife
  • children
  • brothers & sisters

Uncles, aunts, grandparents, nieces and nephews are all "extended family".

"Distant family" is extended family that's quite separated from you, such as your...

The Blog »

Why you shouldn't focus on the differences between words and phrases.

People really seem to like it when I point out differences between words or phrases. This morning I sent out a Twitter message about my recent post, "I'll just be glad when it's over." The message I sent out got a lot of response - people re-tweeted it and wrote back about it, and about twice as...

The Blog »

Watch out for unnatural translations!

The other day I saw some discussion on a language forum about a project called "Tatoeba". This is a site where users are creating multi-language translations of example sentences. If you register for the site, you can write translations of sentences from one language into another. I signed up,...