Posts filed under ‘Language and grammar tips’

Mispronounciation leads to misspelling

Mispronounciation leads to misspelling

Find a person who mispronounces a word and I bet you’ll see they also misspell it!

Take a look at the heading of this post – it’s hard to pick the spelling error because you probably said mis-pro-noun-ci-ay-shon as most people do rather than the correct mis-pro-nun-ci-ay-shon.  If you – or others – say it wrong you’re likely to spell it incorrectly as well.

How would you go spelling the Australian cities of Melben or Brisben if you’d only ever heard these city names said like this by an Aussie and never actually seen them written as Melbourne and Brisbane anywhere? Most people take a first stab at spelling a word based on how they say it or hear it– that is they spell phonetically and this in turn can become a countries adopted way of actually spelling that word. Take “aluminum”, the shortened version of aluminium that the Americas adopted. A lot of these words are adapted due to a change in where a country places the emphasis. The German sporting brand founded by Adolf Dassler is an adaption of his name – Adi (a diminutive form of Adolf)  and Das the start of his surname. In Germany this is “uddy-duss” yet in America they change the emphasis to the middle syllable and say “Ah-DEE-dus.”

Anther commonly mispronounced word is “expresso” instead of espresso and those who say the word with an x will likely spell it with an x . Likewise folks who mistakenly orientate others to a way of thinking rather than orient them will also likely use the wrong spelling or in this case, word.

It does become difficult when pronouncing countries brand names steeped in culturally specific phonetics such as Hermes which has the silent French H and is pronounced as “Air-mez” and Volkswagon – which has the German V pronounced as F and the W as a V and should actually be “folks-vah-gen” And of course, the old favourite “Moët” — often pronounced as “Mo-eee” or “Mo-way”. The name is of Dutch origin and is correctly pronounced as “Mo-wett”.

Luckily there’s plenty of sites that will  help you to not only pronounce a word correctly but spell it correctly as well so next time you want to get it right just type the word into Google (or other) and you’ll likely get a chance to hear how it should be said as well as see how it should be spelt.  One word of warning though –  check the country that posted the pronunciation first!


January 29, 2018 at 2:33 am Leave a comment

Adding Groove to Grammar

How to get people under 25 who grew up with texting and email to consider grammar important? Or even listen to the rules? Sing them to a popular song of course!  In this instance maybe Weird Al Yankovic isn’t so weird but just a little bit brilliant?




July 29, 2014 at 8:43 am Leave a comment

Pause, punctuate!


Is it the age of SMS? Could it be the urgency with which we comunicate? Or perhaps it’s the annonymity of online chat that encourages the younger generation to be so relaaxed with punctuation, whatever the reason there is a need to pause and think about punctuation and its importance for clear communication. But don’t just take my word for it, I was prompted to post this after reading a good, clear article on punctuation posted by English professor Janis Bell from the USA. Now I know we have our own versions of english but on punctuation we (mostly) agree, so take a read of her article and prosper!

Punctuation article




November 19, 2013 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

There, their, they’re!

Now I know the title of this post sounds like an old aunt reassuring a teenager after a break-up, “there, there there, dear it will all be OK” and sadly many people might even read it that way but our fabulously tricky english language has actually given us three words that sound exactly the same but mean very different things. The problem is, it seems that the difference is no longer taught at school as anywhere between 50-100% of students I teach that come straight from their (yes, their, not they’re or there) final year of school do NOT seem to know when to use which. So apologies if I am preaching to the converted here but I just had to add a few tips to my blog in case it can help even 1 more person get it right.

Here and There 

You should use there when you are refering to a physical or abstract place.

He is over there./  I will meet you there. / The cafe is there. / There is the dog.

A ‘there’ can often be replaced with a here and it will still makes sense

They are – They’re

They’re is a contraction for they are. The a is replaced by the apostrophe and the sentence should make sense if you say it out loud as they are .

They’re going to be here any minute. / They’re both coming for dinner. / They’re here!

Be possessive with their

A trick I always use is that their has an i in it so it is possessive. It is the only their with an i, which helps! Their is commonly followed by a noun and can usually be replaced with our and still work.

Their hats are on./ It is their turn to set the table. / Where are their shoes?

And now for the ultimate challenge – to wrangle all three into a meaningful sentence…..

“There is no chance they’re going to be allowed to use their ignorance of spelling to incorrectly use their, they’re and there in my class any more.”

Now for the next challenge: to, two and too!

February 25, 2013 at 11:14 pm Leave a comment


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