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How do you use the words "clothes", "clothing", "apparel", "garb", and "attire"?


When it comes to a group of synonyms like "clothes", "clothing", "apparel", "garb", and "attire", how do you know the differences between them? If you look them up in a dictionary, you'll probably get definitions which seem to point to each other. For example, here's one definition of "attire"...

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English for talking about clothing: shirts

Can you name all of the shirts in the image above? Scroll down to find the answers!



Types of shirts

A. a tank top / a wifebeater ("Wifebeater" is a slang term for a white tank top for men that's meant to be worn under other clothes. It's called this because in...

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How far should you go to avoid mistakes?

This week, I wrote about the concept of fossilization. This is the term for when your language ability "freezes" and stops improving. You keep making the same mistakes over and over.

I got the idea to write the article from a blog post on the interesting site Keith's Voice on...

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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...