Thursday, 31 May 2012



This photo was taken some years ago in Modica. The bar owner has made several mistakes with the apostrophe. Can you find them?

“Modican’s chocolate” is a mistake. To an English speaker, this means that there is only one Modican in the world and he has all the chocolate! There is no need for an apostrophe here as “Modican” is an adjective.
“Sicilian’s wine” means that there is only one Sicilian in the world and he has all the wine! There is no need for an apostrophe here as “Sicilian” is an adjective.
The bar owner has made similar mistakes with “almond’s pudding” and “almond’s nougat”.  “Almond” in these cases is an adjective and does not require an apostrophe.
The possessive apostrophe is used like this:
The girl’s father.
This indicates that the father belongs to the girl.
The girls’ father.
This indicates that the father belongs to more than one girl.
Mary’s garden is beautiful.
This indicates that there is one garden and it belongs to Mary.
Mary’s flowers are beautiful.
This indicates that there are several flowers and they belong to Mary.
The shop’s lights are pretty.
Here we are talking about one shop and the lights that it has.
The shops’ lights are pretty this Christmas.
Here we are talking about more than one shop.
If a word is a plural that does not end in -s we use the singular apostrophe – 's, eg:
The men’s department
The children’s books
We sometimes use an apostrophe to indicate a shop or a surgery, eg:
The butcher's = the butcher’s shop [the word "shop" is understood].
The doctor's = the doctor’s surgery [the word "surgery" is understood].
Add the correct apostrophe form to the words in bold:
1.  My parents cottage is in Wales.
2.  She is spending Christmas at her mothers house.
3.  The teachers book is on the table.
4.  The womens cakes are on sale here.
5.  The managers secretary is in her office.
6.  The managers Convention is in Chicago this year.
7.  We are going to the newsagents.
8.  Shakespeares plays are very interesting.
9.  My cousins name is John.
10. My cousins names are John and Susan.
11. I am going to the dentists.
12. “An Englishmans home is his castle.”
Check your answers by highlighting the space below:
1. parents’  2. mother’s  3. teacher’s  4. women’s  5. manager’s  6. managers’  7. newsagent’s  8. Shakespeare’s  9. cousin’s  10. cousins’  11. dentist’s  12. Englishman’s.


Is it raining where you are? Here's a tongue twister to make you smile:

We wish we were wearing wet wellies while we were walking where wet-welly-wearers work.
wellie = abbreviation of “Wellington boot”

Monday, 28 May 2012


Image: Wikipedia via

We use ancient to talk about something very old, often dating from before the fall of the Western Roman Empire:

There are ancient stones at Stonehenge.

It is very offensive to call a person ancient!

You can use old to talk about people and things:

an old man; an old building

You can also use old to talk about something that is not new:

My old computer doesn't work any more so I am going to buy a new one.

It is nicer to refer to people as elderly:

an elderly man

The term the elderly is often used as a collective noun to talk about older people as a group:

day centres for the elderly

Thursday, 24 May 2012


Whatever you think of the British monarchy, there is no escape from the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations!  So here are some "queenly" expressions, 1 - 10, for you to match with their meanings a - j. You will find the answers at the end of the post.

Image: Wikipedia

1.  Queen bee

2.  The Queen's Speech*

3.  To turn Queen's evidence*

4.  Pearly Queen  [also "King"]

5.  Queen of Puddings

6.  Drama queen

7.  Homecoming Queen  [and sometimes "King"]

8.  Queen Anne [used as an adjective]

9.  The Queen's English*

10.  To queen it

Expressions marked with an asterisk [*] change to "King's" when the British monarch is a king.

a.  A style of furniture or architecture

b.  A person who dramatises an uncomplicated situation. 

c.  To domineer or to behave in a domineering way [slang].

d.  A dessert

e.  The fertile female in a hive

f.  To testify against one's criminal accomplice[s] in court.  [In countries where there is no monarch the term "turn state's evidence" is used.]

g.  The accent of standard English [about which there is much debate].

h.  Member of a traditional charitable organisation in London.  Pearly kings and queens wear costumes decorated with pearl buttons.

i.  The words of the Prime Minister, read by the Queen at the State Opening of the British Parliament.

j.  In the USA, a girl chosen to lead the celebrations of students returning to a school or a football team returning from its longest trip.

Image: Wikipedia

To see the answers, highlight the space below:

1e, 2i, 3f, 4h, 5d, 6b, 7j, 8a, 9g, 10c.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


At this time of year you may be thinking about holidays so let's kick off with an explanation of some commonly confused travel words.  Have a good time wherever you spend this summer!

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Travel :  Verb -  the experience of going to different places in general.  “I like travelling.”  Noun without article –  the experience in general. “I’d like to talk about travel.”   In the plural the noun often refers to an account of someone’s journeys, eg:  “Gulliver’s Travels”.  Adjective: – a travel agency; a travel diary.

Trip :  Noun – travel plus the time you spend in a place; your whole holiday.  “Our teacher is organising a trip to Britain.”

Voyage:  Noun – a long journey, especially by sea.  “ Captain Cook’s voyage of discovery”.

 Journey:  Noun -   Going from one place to another.  “The journey from London to Cardiff takes four hours by coach.”

Break:  Noun – a short trip.   “We had a weekend break in Paris.”

Tour:  Verb - to go around the  important places in a location. “We toured Britain by car.”   Noun – a visit to the important places in a location.  “We went on a  bus tour of London."

Excursion:  Noun  – a  tour organised for you by someone else, usually a tour operator.  “We went on an excursion to the Tower of London.”

Sightsee : Verb -  usually used with “go” – “go sightseeing” -  to visit important monuments and sights.  “ We went sightseeing in London.  We saw Buckingham Palace, the London Eye and St Paul’s Cathedral.”


Caerphilly Castle, Wales, UK

Hello and welcome to this new blog about the English language and the culture of English-speaking countries.

My name is Pat and I come from Cardiff, Wales in the UK. I'm a qualified and experienced teacher of English, French and Italian.  As "Welshcakes Limoncello" I'm the author of Sicily Scene , a blog in English about my life in Sicily.

On this blog I'll be posting about many aspects of the English language. I hope I'll be able to make learning English easier for you and that you'll have some fun along the way!  I'll also tell you about life and culture in English-speaking countries, mostly in Britain as that is the place I know best.

See you here soon!