Language Articles

 

A correspondent of mine recently had this to say: I'm appalled at the increasing use of less when fewer would be more appropriate. I was taught that if you could count them (people at a meeting) you used "fewer"; if you couldn't count it (sugar) you used "less."

It seems that the trend is to use less for everything. ... I can't wrap myself around using "less" when "fewer" seems so right to me. She asked me to comment.

The traditional rule is indeed to use "fewer" with things that can be counted.

Read more: Fewer vs Less - Language Article

 

There are some words which even native English speakers can find confusing and on occasion get muddled. They may have very similar spellings or pronunciation or perhaps have very similar meanings. 

Stationary and Stationery . The first refers to remaining still and the second to paper goods for writing.

Personnel and Personal. The first is often called Human Resources these days and refers to the staff and those who deal with them – those who engage and fire staff, those who deal with difficulties and arrange holiday rotas etc. The second is to do with what belongs to an individual; his personal affairs.

Nought and Naught. These both mean nothing, but the first refers specifically to the figure zero.

Then there are singulars and plurals. Do you know the plural of the words on the next page? 

Read more: Confusing Words - Language Article

Are British accents or American accents preferable for ESL learners?

If you are learning English as a second language (ESL) the question of English accents, and whether you should take on a British accent or an American accent, becomes important. Most often the English language is either spoken with an American accent from the United States or with a British accent from England, but English varies immensely. British accents vary from city to city, and American accents vary from state to state, so really there is no superior or preferential English accent. There are also Canadian accents, Australian accents, Scottish accents, Irish accents, South African accents, and New Zealand accents which all have unique sounds and need to be considered when learning English.

Read more: Accents - Language Article

 

What Makes One Language Harder or Easier Than Another?

What makes one language harder or easier to learn than another? Unfortunately, there is no one simple answer. There are some languages which have a number of characteristics that make them relatively difficult to learn. But it depends much more on what languages you already know, particularly your native language, the one (or ones) you grew up speaking.

Read more: Hard Language - Language Article


Received Pronunciation and the Accent of the Royal Baby 

People around the world are celebrating the arrival of Prince William and the Duchess of Cornwall's son, a shiny new royal baby for the press to pester.  Most people are excited to see what the baby will look like (gorgeous no doubt), but others are wondering how the baby will eventually sound.  Will he speak 'The Queen’s English'?

Read more: Received Pronunciation - Accents - Language Article