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Category: English Speaking Tips

English idioms in songs

English idioms in songs

If you are learning English, we are sure that you listen to some songs in English. They can be English or American songs, but we are almost sure that when you sang one of those songs, you ran into some English idioms.

In this article, we will talk about some English idioms or English expressions that were used in some songs in English and we will discover the origins about those idioms so that you will be able not only to sing those songs but also to understand what they say!

Wildest dreams

“Say you’ll see me again even if it’s just in your wildest dreams read more

Russian verb conjugation – the simplest explanation and tips

Russian verb conjugation – the simplest explanation and tips

The Russian language is in the top most spoken languages in the world, with over 258 million people talking in this fascinating language. It is considered one of the most complex languages and a very rich one. Learning Russian will help you discover the interesting Russian culture and history and meet a lot of people. Russian grammar is sometimes unreachable for native speakers because it’s so elaborate, so don’t worry if you make some mistakes in Russian. Since so many people want to learn this captivating language, we decided to help you with the Russian grammar and with the Russian verb conjugation in particular. read more

Babbel vs Anki vs VocApp – Comparison and Reviews

Babbel vs Anki vs VocApp – Comparison and Reviews

Comparison of the language learning apps: Babbel, Anki and VocApp

Ah, technology… how ingenious it is! Whether you want to learn a new language or you want to go back to studying a language you haven’t spoken in years, don’t worry! Today you can do it thanks to several useful language learning apps.

There are really plenty of apps and websites that allow you to learn foreign languages online and that promise you to become fluent in foreign languages, with the need to use them only for a short time a day.

Today we will talk about some of the best language learning apps, I will review them, we will analyse three of them (Babbel, Anki and VocApp) and we will see the pros and cons of those apps so that you will know how to learn languages fast. read more

The most common Italian stereotypes

The most common Italian stereotypes

The most common Italian stereotypes

If you are planning to study Italian or you just want to travel to Italy, you will certainly have in mind some Italians stereotypes!

First of all, what is a stereotype?

A stereotype is a set of beliefs about the typical characteristics of a social group. It is a generalization about the group that does not consider the specific individuals’ characteristics. Normally stereotypes do not have a negative connotation, we are the ones who create them.

Let’s start analysing the various stereotypes about Italians!

The first stereotype is, of course, that Italians gesticulate and express themselves with their hands. Gesticulating is an integral part of the Italian culture! This is one of the Italian habits that foreigners find surprising and inexplicable. Many foreigners don’t understand the necessity to gesticulate while talking, and for this reason, they come to the conclusion that Italians speak with their hands. read more

Italian expressions that will make you sound like a local

Italian expressions that will make you sound like a local

Italian expressions that will make you sound like a local

If you are studying Dante’s language, the “bel canto” language, the opera’s language, the moda’s language, the cooking language, the art’s language and the “Bel Paese”’s language, we are sure that you would like to learn some Italian expressions to sound like a local during your next trip to Italy or to use when you talk with your Italian friends or colleagues!

We think that it’s essential to learn Italian expressions and Italian slang if you want to learn the language since most of the informal conversations always contain them. Italian slang and Italian expressions are usually avoided in school books, but don’t worry! We have collected here some of the Italian expressions and of the Italian slang that are most used by Italian native speakers. Let’s get started! read more

Turn of phrase in language: origin and differences

Turn of phrase in language: origin and differences

Turn of phrase and idioms: let’s start with a definition

A turn of phrase, or an idiom, is an expression which is proper to each language. Most of the time, you hear them in your native language and it feels natural because this is actually a way to express yourself.

Some similarities and equivalent idioms exist between different languages. You’ve certainly heard the English idiom “it’s a piece of cake” for something very easy — well you’d say, in a literal way, that it’s a child’s play in German or Spanish, but you’d have a literal translation in French. read more

Duolingo vs Memrise vs VocApp, what is the best language learning app

Duolingo vs Memrise vs VocApp, what is the best language learning app

You are a language lover? You are looking for educational apps for adults? Or you want to learn new languages but you are hesitant? You don’t know which application or website to choose for learning new languages? In this article, we will give you information about the three best applications for learning languages. In fact, we are going to present to you the advantages and disadvantages of Duolingo, Memrise and VocApp. We are not going to compare like Memrise vs Duolingo as a battle between both apps. No, our goal is to let you know the characteristics of those three language learning applications to make a choice according to: read more

Ultimate Erasmus+ Guide – Everything you should know before your Erasmus adventure!

Ultimate Erasmus+ Guide – Everything you should know before your Erasmus adventure!

You’ve heard about Erasmus+ but you’ve never experienced it before? Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme that offers the opportunity to study, train and gain experience abroad. Students from all over the world shared in a video their experience of a lifetime and wrote a must-read guide before taking part in the Erasmus+ journey. Discover France, Germany, Finland and other dream EU-destinations and live your story too!

I Planning your Erasmus

Everybody wants some changes in their lives: to change the living or study place, go abroad, explore new cultures, meet new people, and make new friends. If you feel the urgency to do something different, Erasmus can be a great solution. However, just like with any kind of new experience it needs thorough thinking and detailed planning. The very important thing is to be ready mentally and emotionally: to be open to new challenges, changes, diversity, and a new culture; to forget about any stereotypes about the country you are going to visit; and be friendly to the new environment. If you are done with mental preparation, you can start thinking about the host country, host university or company, all paper-work, money related issues, and finding the apartment. read more

Differences between American English and British English

Differences between American English and British English

Although the United States and the United Kingdom share the same language, many differences can be found in the vocabulary, the grammar or the pronunciation. On top of that, both countries have very different cultures, which can be found in the food, their history, the sports they play, or even the TV shows they usually watch.

In contrast, it’s true that they both share the mile system, but it is actually the only measurement system that they have in common! In short, it can be said that the two countries are divided by a common language! All of these points will be developed in this article (among many others), so if you’re interested to discover all the differences, they will be listed below!

Grammar in British and American English: what are the differences?

First things first, the basis of any language is grammar. You can’t begin to learn a language unless you know its alphabet and the basis of its grammar, as you generally build your sentences with verbs if you don’t want to speak like a robot!

Among all the differences, I’ll start with the irregular verbs. Yes, if you want to learn English or if you’re already struggling with irregular verbs, be aware that there are plenty of differences. For example, the widely used verb “get” is also irregular. You would say get, got, gotten in American English whereas you’d say get, got, got in British English. You can note that British English uses the past participle more often! You can also find differences in endings just like in the verbs “burn”, “learn”, or “dream”. In the past tense, you would add -ed in American English but a -t in British English.

You can find other spelling differences below, with a short explanation followed with examples:

-“ou” (UK) vs. “o” (US): “colour” vs. “color” / “favourite” vs. “favorite”. The difference is that the American version gets closer to the way it is actually pronounced than the British one.

-re (UK) vs. -er (US): such as “theatre” or “theater”. The reason behind this difference is because British people have borrowed and adopted many French words, while keeping the French spelling. On the contrary, American English decided to make the word American and reversed the two final letters. Same reason for the following.

-nce (UK) vs. -nse (US): “licence” or “license”. For the noun, the British spelling will get into line with the French spelling. But the verb is “to license” in both English. Careful, this isn’t always the case! You have “defence” in British English but “defense” in American English!

You can also differentiate many verbs ending in -ise (UK) vs. -ize (US). Example: “organise” (UK) or “organize” (US).

Mum or Mom? Both are commonly used in British and American English respectively, but the first spelling “mum” can also refer to a flower.

Last but not least, the grammar section! Should you double the L between two vowels? Well, if you’re a British or you want to learn British English, then you should! You’d write “travelling”, “traveller”, “travelled”. Americans would only use one L though!

Careful: some exceptions exist and don’t double the L in “appealing”, “devilish”, “loyalist”, or “travelogue”.

Now, to express possession in English, you can find “have” VS. “have got”. In Britain, people tend to say “I’ve got” while an American will simply say “I have”. Both mean the same but the grammar differs slightly.

Finally, British people use A LOT of question tags, both in oral conversations and dialogs. It’s just natural for them to add “don’t you?”, “hasn’t it?” or “aren’t you” at the end of their sentences, even though they are not always asking a question. With “isn’t it” for instance, you could hear “The weather is so nice today, isn’t it?”. In America though, they tend to say “right?”, just like “The weather is so nice today, right?”.

Vocabulary and spelling in English: British vs. American

Until now, the differences listed above wouldn’t have caused any problem for a Brit or an American to understand you. They would have just noticed on which side of the ocean you’re standing! But it comes to different words, they might feel a bit destabilised. Many people would understand what you mean, especially because they know which differences exist now between the two languages. However, if you talk to a young child or an elderly person who doesn’t know the differences, for them, it might sound like you’re speaking a different language.

Let me give you an example. You have “garbage” in American English but “rubbish” in British English. Both mean the same, but an American would never say “rubbish” and vice-versa. You have SO many differences with simple words just like these. To be able to know and distinguish all of them, you’d have to live in these countries for some months. For now, you can find some of them in the following table:



Faucet Tap
Cotton candy Candy floss
Stroller Pushchair
Cart Trolley
Front desk Reception
(French)  fries Chips (French fries for thinner ones)
Chips Crisps
Apartment Flat
Elevator Lift


Finally, you also have “subway” vs. “tube”/”underground” which express “metro”. In this case, people will understand what you’re talking about, although the tube can only refer to the London underground. So even within the UK, the different regions will use different words to express the same thing. Talking about regions, different pronunciations and accents can be found at the national level, but the main difference is found between the two countries.

The accent: do you speak like a British or like an American?

The American pronunciation follows the “General American English” whereas the “Received Pronunciation” is followed by the British English people. The major differences of pronunciation are obviously found in consonants and vowels. You’ll be able to notice them once you’ve watched enough episodes of your favourite Anglophone series on Netflix! It is actually the best option to learn if you don’t have the opportunity to go and stay in an English-speaking country! So keep your ears wide open!

What is the most striking is the -t pronunciation. It is almost a [d] in American English when placed between two vowels. But in British English, it remains a -t sound. Example for the word “twitter”: TwiTTe: (UK) vs TwiDeR (US).

In addition, the final -r in American English is pronounced, but not in British English. For example, the word “car”, you can hear a “caR” (US) or a “ca:” (UK). Also, when placed between a vowel and a consonant, the British -r isn’t pronounced either. You’d say “tu:n” for “turn” to a British.

The two diphthongs /oʊ/ or /əʊ/ also differentiates the two languages. As the phonetic spelling indicates, Americans rather pronounce the “o” contrary to the “e” for the Brits. For the word “close”, you’d say “clOse” in American but “clOEse” in a British accent.

The units of measure in British and American English

You may be quite at a loss when it comes to units of measurements and conversions, as both countries do not use the International System of Units (SI). The US uses the customary units while the U.K uses Imperial units. Actually, it is quite hard to remember them all, except if you learn them by heart. Here is a list summarising the ones you should know:

  • 1. The temperature outside: Fahrenheit (US) vs Celcius (UK)
  • 2. To measure your ingredients while cooking: cup (US) vs. grams/liters (UK)
  • 3.To measure liquids like petrol(UK)/gasoline(US): US gallon vs. Imperial gallon

But for distances (miles, yards, inches, feet), volumes (cubic foot, cubic yard), weight (LBS) and for areas (square inch, square mile etc): it’s the same and thank god for that!

To finish a bit more lightly: the two countries culture

The two countries’ history at the time of the colonial period

The US was a British colony before they gained their independence from the UK in 1776. Since, they’ve been building their own society and laws, to become one of the most powerful countries in the world.

Westminster vs. Washington: the political structures read more

Gaming terms: how gamers became the creators of a new language

Gaming terms: how gamers became the creators of a new language

Compared to any other kind of art, video games are relatively new. They were born in the 1950s thanks to the experiments of some engineers, but a long time was needed before they could become what they are nowadays. Sure enough, in the last 10 to 15 years, they became a very appreciated typology of entertainment and more and more people started to play with them. Online communities were created to share progress and advice between gamers and the creation and the development of a certain kind of products, entirely based on the competition between players, gave an additional boost to the growth of a language that people use in relation to their favourite software. The gaming terms became the perfect way to communicate in this kind of field.

AFK”, “rage quit”, “crafting” are only some of the terms that gamers regularly use in order to communicate fastly. What’s interesting about this kind of language is that it was created by the gamers themselves, in some cases by taking some words and adapting them to a new context, in others they made up these words through contractions and acronyms.

#1 English as the lingua franca for video games

Being English the lingua franca of everything concerning information technology, it is also the lingua franca of video games and internet. This kind of language started to become very popular in the last five to six years and it spread at an incredibly fast rate. Nowadays, every keen gamer in the world uses it to have an easy way to communicate with other gamers. An English-speaking internet helped this spread, but the players of other countries tried to develop some sort of “amatorial localisation”. Being an Italian, I can say that, while nouns are simply taken as loans, Italian gamers take the English verbs used in this context and adapt them to the morphological structure of the Italian language. For example, the verb to spawn becomes spawnare.

During the years, video games became an important phenomenon in the field of entertainment, so much that many tournaments and conventions are organised every year. In this context too this kind of language is used above the official one. In fact, it is important to say that these terms invented by gamers themselves are not often used by video game development houses. It is a way of speaking related to the internet world and to its inhabitants.

#2 Terms formation through shortening

Some of these terms are incredibly clever. Let’s take the example of inting. As the Urban Dictionary defines it, “it stands for “INTentional feeding” and it is used in videogames (mainly League of Legends). Most possibly started from the League of Legends banned toxic streamer tyler1 because of his ”INT list” where he was writing down players who were playing bad, intentionally feed, intentionally ruin the game and so on”. Basically, it refers to somebody who intentionally gets himself or herself killed by the enemy, so to upset the allies. We can detect two interesting features about this term: first and foremost, it was probably invented in an extremely particular context, in which a streamer of a particular video game did something particular to overcome a problem. Secondly, we can see that this is shortening. Gamers contracted the term in order to let it be fast enough to be used in a rapid context such as the one of online gaming. The term fragging went through the same process: it is the shortening of the expression fragmentation grenade but, in this case, it was not invented in the context of gaming, because it had already been used in war-related conversations. Here, we can see how gamers brought particular terms from other contexts to the one within their competence, applying it to video games which are closely related to the one from which they took said term, probably Call of Duty and others. A similar situation can be found in the term aggro. This term refers to the moment when your avatar gets close enough to an enemy, so that said enemy focuses on you. Aggro is possibly another shortening and it comes from aggression. Another interesting contraction is the one of gank. Even if it is a term that was already used in other contexts with other meanings, in the case of video games it comes from gang kill and it refers to “when a group of people kill a single opponent in an MMORPG”.

#3 Terms related to specific video games

Some other terms come from one game and then spread to others, more or less like inting. The next cases, though, are about terms which, even if related to a particular game, were already used in other contexts. Carting, for example, is a term related to the game Monster Hunter and it refers to when a player loses a battle against a monster without dying yet. In that case, a group of characters resembling cats and called Palicos bring the player outside the arena carrying him or her on a cart. This term was already used in other informal contexts, though, some of which are not very elegant. No, I’m not saying which ones. Go check on the Urban Dictionary. Same thing happens with the term crafting, which refers to everything related to manufacture, basically, but in the video games, context is extremely related to the term Minecraft. Here you can see the avatar of the gamer.

Minecraft is also related to another word, griefer, which refers to someone “who goes into Minecraft servers for the purpose of destroying structures that took hours to build, which usually requires you to rebuild from scratch”. Even in this case, the term spread so much that it started to be attributed to other games too, accompanied by a generalisation of the definition. A griefer became “someone, usually in an online game, who intentionally, and usually repeatedly, attempts to degrade others’ experience or torment them”. Both these definitions come from the Urban Dictionary. The term overpowered has probably had the same faith, starting from an external context and then used in gaming, in particular in relation to Role-playing games and First Person Shooters.

#4 Acronyms

Another linguistics feature somewhat used in gaming context is the creation of acronyms. One of the most used is certainly AFK, which means

Away From Keyboard read more