Leave out the Latin

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One of our members of staff recently phoned his GP practice and asked to see a specific doctor. ‘Sorry, he only comes in pro re nata,’ the receptionist told him. It wasn’t until he’d put the phone down and  looked up  the phrase that he knew for sure what she had meant, writes Cathy Relf. […]

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Hit or myth: ‘I shall’ is more polite than ‘I will’

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You may have a vague memory of once being told to use I shall for formal occasions, but is it too formal? Too old-fashioned? Will people point and laugh? Or are shall and will simply interchangeable? Let’s explore, shall we? Modal (helping) verbs Shall and will are modal verbs (sometimes called ‘helping verbs’). These combine […]

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60-second fix: learnt or learned?

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Is it learnt or learned? Spelt or spelled? Dreamt or dreamed? If you’re unsure, you’re in good company, writes Cathy Relf. Neither the dictionaries nor the newspapers agree, so it’s hardly surprising that the rest of us are confused. We carried out a quick Twitter poll and found that opinions were scattered. So, let’s clean […]

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When should you use a thesaurus?

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Do you have one of those friends that you love to bits but whose every word should be taken with an enormous bag of salt? Well, that’s basically the relationship you should have with your thesaurus. Love it, but with caution. Next time you reach for it, first ask yourself why. If it’s because you’re […]

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Communication Lab 5: separated by a common language

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Subscribe via RSS / iTunes | Download | All podcasts 32 minutes Listen now to the latest programme, featuring linguistics expert Dr Lynne Murphy talking about the differences between UK and US English. Further reading Hear something you want to know more about? Here are some useful links. Check out Lynne’s excellent blog Separated by […]

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Sainsbury’s prove good PR is easy, tiger

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Have you heard about the tiger that’s turned into a giraffe? The real story isn’t quite so magical as that sounds. But Sainsbury’s response to a letter from a little girl, which has now led them to change the name of their tiger bread to giraffe bread, was certainly inspired. For those who missed it, […]

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