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Joe's Cafe

Joe's Cafe


Personal blog of EnglishClub founder Josef Essberger - see Menu

Quiz: Collective Nouns

Can you put each of these collective nouns in the right sentence below? You must use each noun once only.

pack | herd | fleet | suite | audience | crowd

1. The farmer moved his __________ of cows to higher ground to avoid the flood.

2. The President and his staff had a __________ of rooms on the top floor.

3. After the concert the __________ clapped loudly.

4. It was difficult to move because there were so many people in the __________.

5. Which navy has the biggest __________ in the world?

6. The casino uses a new __________ of cards for each game.

See Comments for answers.


The Sick Rose

O Rose, thou art sick!

The invisible worm,

That flies in the night,

In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed

Of crimson joy;

And his dark secret love

Does thy life destroy.

William Blake 1757-1827

So the question is: What is “the invisible worm that flies in the night”?


Advice or advise?

Advice is a noun:

  • He did not accept my advice.

Advise is a verb:

  • The doctor advised her to stop work.

Stationery or stationary?

A stationer sells stationery (writing paper, envelopes and other office materials).

  • You’ll find some envelopes in the stationery cupboard.

Stationary is an adjective meaning “not moving”.

  • The car hit a stationary bus.

Practice or practise?

In American English “practice” is a verb and a noun:

I need more practice before I do the exam. Can I practice my English with you?

In British English “practice” is a noun and the verb is “practise”:

I need more practice before I do the exam. Can I practise my English with you?


Olympics in China

Next year the Olympics will be held in China. I noticed that they will start on 8th August. Then I thought: “Wow! The Chinese are very clever. They’re getting the games in their country on their LUCKY day.” I’m not sure if I’m right but I’m guessing that they engineered the games to start on 08/08/08 (8 August 2008). And for Chinese people I believe the number 8 is a very lucky number. Clever!


CAPITAL CRIME

WHEN I WAS A BOY, I LEARNED TO READ. BUT FIRST I LEARNED THE ALPHABET. AS YOU KNOW, THE ENGLISH ALPHABET HAS SMALL (abc) AND LARGE (ABC) LETTERS. THE LARGE LETTERS ARE CALLED “CAPITAL LETTERS”. GUESS WHICH LETTERS I LEARNED FIRST AS A YOUNG CHILD. SMALL LETTERS OR CAPITAL LETTERS? AND WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE ANYWAY BETWEEN SMALL AND LARGE LETTERS? WELL, I’LL TELL YOU. I LEARNED SMALL LETTERS FIRST. AND THE DIFFERENCE? LARGE LETTERS ARE ALL THE SAME HEIGHT. EXACTLY THE SAME. SMALL LETTERS GO UP AND DOWN. SOME ARE IN THE MIDDLE, LIKE x. SOME GO UP, LIKE b. SOME GO DOWN, LIKE p. THAT MEANS THEY ARE ALL DIFFERENT SHAPES AND SIZES. “SO WHAT?”, I HEAR YOU SAY. SO SMALL LETTERS ARE EASIER TO READ. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SAW A BOOK PRINTED COMPLETELY IN CAPITAL LETTERS? WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY READING ONE? PRETTY DIFFICULT, LIKE THE SOLID BLOCKS OF TEXT IN CAPITAL LETTERS THAT MICROSOFT LAWYERS USE TO MAKE THEIR AGREEMENTS DIFFICULT TO READ. LIKE THIS POST, COME TO THINK OF IT. DON’T AGREE? TRY THE TEST.


Consonant Strings

Normally, every syllable in English must have at least one vowel (or vowel sound). So it’s quite surprising to think that there are words with 5 or more consonants in a row.

Here are a few words with 5-letter consonant strings:

BIRTHPLACE, BREASTSTROKE, DOWNSTREAM, EIGHTHS, MATCHSTICK, NIGHTCLOTHES, NIGHTCLUB, NIGHTDRESS, STRENGTHS, THOUSANDTHS

Here are two words with 6 consonants in a row:

CATCHPHRASE, KNIGHTSBRIDGE

Can you think of any more? There are quite a few.


What is the third word?

Here’s a common puzzle:

Think of words ending in “-gry”. “Angry” and “hungry” are two of them. There are only three words in the English language. What is the third word? The word is something that everyone uses every day. If you have listened carefully, I have already told you what it is.


Do I write its or it’s?

Actually, it’s very easy.

It’s is always short for “it is” or “it has”.

  • It is snowing. It’s snowing.
  • It has finished. It’s finished.
  • It has got 6 wheels. It’s got 6 wheels.

Its means “belonging to it” and is a possessive pronoun like “his”.

  • Turn the box on its side,
  • Did you see its registration number?
  • Its atmosphere is romantic.