Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

     Ode to the plural     

We'll begin with a box,
and the plural is boxes,

But the plural of ox
becomes oxen, not oxes.

One fowl is a goose,
but two are called geese,

Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse
or a nest full of mice,

Yet the plural of house
is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is
always called men,

Why shouldn't the plural of
pan be called pen?

If I speak of my foot and
show you my feet,

And I give you a boot, would
a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a
whole set are teeth,

Why shouldn't the plural of
booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and
Three would be those,

Yet hat in the plural would
never be hose,

And the plural of cat is
cats, not cose.

We speak of a brother
and also of brethren,

But though we say mother,
we never say methren.

Then the masculine pronouns
are he, his and him,

But imagine the feminine:
she, shis and shim!

Let's face it - English is a
crazy language.

There is no egg in eggplant
nor ham in hamburger;

neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

English muffins weren't
invented in England.

We take English for granted,
but if we explore its paradoxes,

we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing,

grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you
can make amends but not one amend.

If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?

We ship by truck but send
cargo by ship.

We have noses that run
and feet that smell.

We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.

And how can a slim chance and
a fat chance be the same,

while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language

in which your house can burn up as it burns down,

in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and

in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And, in closing, if father is Pop, how come mother's not Mop?






More on the lighter side

This is the page on which you can pause and perhaps have a chuckle. It is also the place where you can submit examples which you have spotted, where English has been used in an odd sort of way.

                               The QES — On The Lighter Side                            

A good example to illustrate why people who display public notices should really choose the correct words to use, unless of course there truly are dogs which have a tendency to blow up!



A hatter perhaps?









                                  The lighter side of language                                  

All this language stuff can be pretty heavy going, it is true. But does it have to be uphill all the way? No, not at all! We all have a playful side to us and especially like to take a moment off to relax when stuck in front of the computer. Well, this is the place where you can have some quiet fun and the great thing about it is that it will help you improve your understanding and use of English at the same time. Now, who can refuse an offer like that?

We have hunted around and found some really entertaining (and some challenging) games for you to play. We shall start with one of the ingenious games offered by Oxford University on their "AskOxford" website. You can, of course, go direct to that site and take a look around for yourself or you can let us pick some games for you. We shall increase and change the list from time to time so that you always have something different to do.


An old joke tells of someone asking the assistant at a paper shop: 'Do you keep stationery?' and she replies: 'No, I wriggle about a bit.' She clearly thought he meant the word that is spelt 'stationary'. There are many pairs of words like this, which sound the same but are spelt differently. They are called homophones.

                                   The Oxford Word Challenge                                

Identify the pairs of homophones from the following clues.
Example: One word means a place for keeping aircraft; the other word means a shaped piece of wood, metal, etc. on which you can hang clothes. Answer:Hangar/hanger.

  1. One word means simple; the other means an aircraft.
  2. One word means expected; the other word means condensed vapour.
  3. One word is nautical; the other is central to the body.
  4. One word means connections; the other is an animal.
  5. One word means an occasion; the other is a herb.
  6. One word means to hit; the other is a vegetable.
  7. One word means permitted; the other means audible.
  8. One word is a singer; the other is a sum of money.
  9. One word is an animal; the other is an undercover fighter.
  10. One word means kind; the other means searched for.
  11. One means excluded; the other is a poet.
  12. One word is a day; the other is a sweet.
  13. One word means pursued; the other means pure.
  14. One word means a woolly South American animal; the other means a Buddhist monk in Tibet or Mongolia.
  15. These are the names of two particular people; one is a macho man; the other is a poet.


A great alternative source of learning and fun with the English language is The British Council.  For details please click here.

Please help us enlarge this area of our website and send us your images, audio and video files, examples of poorly constructed English, as well as fun items on the "lighter side" of our subject. Please contact the webmaster.

Do you have a problem with spelling? This chap does, but it could save a life! Click the green play button below the player.


By the way it's EUCALYPTUS

The apostrophe fairy strikes again

image of a shop sign and a wayward apostrophe

A lesson learned (the hard way)

On his 60th birthday, a man got a gift certificate from his wife. The certificate paid for a visit to a medicine man living on a nearby reservation who was rumoured to have a wonderful cure for erectile disfunction.
After being persuaded, he drove to the reservation, handed his ticket to the medicine man and wondered what he was in for. The old man slowly and methodically produced a potion, handed it to his 'patient', and with a grip on his shoulder, warned, "This is powerful medicine and it must be respected. You take only a teaspoonful and then say 1-2-3. When you do that, you will become manlier than you have ever been in your life and you can perform as long as you want." As the medicine man walked away, the husband turned and asked, "How do I stop the medicine from working?" "Your partner must say 1-2-3-4, he responded. "But when she does, the medicine will not work again until the next full moon." The man was eager to see if it worked. He went home, showered, shaved, took a spoonful of the medicine, and then invited his wife to join him in the bedroom. When she came in, he took off his clothes and said, "1 -2-3!" Immediately, he was the manliest of men. His wife was excited and began throwing off her clothes. And then she asked, "What was the 1-2-3 for?"...
And that, boys and girls, is why we should never end our sentences with a preposition.