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1000 Most Common Words


What do you think is the most common (used) word in English? Here's a hint: It starts with "th" and ends with "e"! This is a great place to check your vocabulary level. It's a list of the 1000 words that are used the most when speaking English.


Your Turn:
Before you look at the list, try to guess what the 10 most popular words are. Check them with the list. Then go through the list and write down the words that you don't know in your vocabulary notebook. Check your dictionary to find the meanings.

The AmbiGallery


Do you know what an ambigram is? An ambigram is a word or words that look the same when turned upside-down. It's a very interesting kind of art. Look at the title of the site, AmbiGallery. Now look at it upside-down. It still says AmbiGallery! Amazing! Click on the 3 galleries on this page to see more examples of Ambigrams.


Your Turn:
Now you can have the computer make an ambigram for you! First, go here. Then type any word in the box at the top of the page. If you want to use two words, type another word in the second box. IMPORTANT: If you use two words, both words must have the same number of letters. Click GO, and read your new ambigram!

Anagram Hall of Fame


An anagram is a word (or words) that is made by changing the order of the letters in another word (or words). For example:

An anagram for HORSE would be SHORE.

The Anagram Hall of Fame is a list of some of the most interesting anagrams that people have discovered. The meanings are usually related in a funny or unusual way. For example:

Dormitory = Dirty Room
The Countryside = No City Dust Here
Statue of Liberty = Built to Stay Free


Your Turn:
#1-Look at your name or any other word or phrases. Can you find any interesting anagrams? Write down as many as you can find. Then you can check your anagrams on the Internet! Just type in your words and the computer will show you a list of anagrams.

#2-Find the funniest anagram for your name. Write it on a piece of paper. Do the same thing for some of your classmates. Write all of the anagrams on a piece of paper and then have everyone try to match the anagrams with the correct names.



When does "bad" mean "good?" Why does "bound" sometimes mean "moving" and sometimes means "unable to move?" Antagonyms (a made-up word) are words or phrases that have two meanings, but the two meanings are opposite each other! For example:

"Fought with" sometimes means "fought against."
Ex: I fought with my girlfriend last night. But sometimes it means "fought on the same side."
Ex: The Americans fought with the British during World War II.

Sometimes English is a crazy language!


Your Turn:
Find a few interesting examples of antagonyms. Write a sentence to demonstrate each meaning. Can you think of any other examples of words or phrases that might be antagonyms?

Daily Buzzword


Here's a great vocabulary-building site from Miriam-Webster (the dictionary people). Each word has a definition, an example sentence, and a quiz question about the origin of the word. For example:

The word "magazine" comes from the Arabic word "makhazin," meaning "storehouse."

The site adds a new word every day. You can subscribe to their free email newsletter and have a new word sent to you every day.


Your Turn:
Look at the list of words. Put each word into one of these categories:

1) Words that you are sure of the meaning.
2) Words that you recognize, but you're not sure about the meaning.
3) Words that you don't recognize at all.

Now use this site to investigate these words. Be sure you add any new words to your vocabulary notebook.

Evolution of the Alphabet


Before you can speak English, you have to know the English alphabet. Did you know that the English alphabet has changed many times? At this site, you can see how the alphabet has changed, from the Phoenician alphabet in 900 B.C. to the alphabet we use today.


Your Turn:
Here's an interesting challenge. It's easy to say the alphabet forward, but can you say the whole alphabet backward (Z,Y,X...)? Challenge your friends. See who can do it in the shortest time (with no mistakes)!

A Feast of Homonyms


-Prince:Prints / We'd:Weed / Nose:Knows-

These are examples of homonyms; words that sound the same, but have a different spelling and a different meaning. At this site, you'll find 4 activities that will teach you lots of homonyms. You can use Flashcards, or play Concentration, Matching, or Word Search games. Just follow the instructions for each activity.


Your Turn:
You'll find 41 pairs of homonyms at this site, but there are LOTS of homonyms in English. How many can you think of? Make a list of about 10 pairs of homonyms. Now make a homonyms quiz for your classmates. Write down the first homonym in each pair. Leave a blank space for the second homonym. Now see if other students can fill in the blanks with the correct homonym.

Grammar and Vocabulary Assessment Tests


Here's an easy way to check your grammar and vocabulary progress. You can choose a test from 4 different levels. Each test has several sections. Enter your name and email address before you take the test and they will email your results to you. Take the test again in several weeks. Did your score improve?



Can you find the heteronyms in this sentence?

"The bass swam around the bass drum on the ocean floor."

(Answer: BASS)

Heteronyms are words that are spelled the same, but have different pronunciations and different meanings. There are a lot of heteronyms in English.

Here are some more examples:

CONTEST: (kunTEST- to argue; KAHNtest- a match of skill)
EXCUSE: (EKskyooz- to let someone off; EKskyoos- a reason or explanation)
INVALID: (inVALLid- not valid; INvallid- an ill person)

This site will also teach you the difference between HETERONYMS, HOMOGRAPHS, HOMOPHONES, and HOMONYMS.


Your Turn:
Before you look at this site, try to make your own list of heteronyms. How many can you think of? Try to find your words on this site.

Notorious Confusables


Do you know the difference between "accept" and "except?" How about "it's" and "its?" Many people confuse the words "capital" and "capitol." This is a great vocabulary site that shows you the differences between words that are often confusing (even for native speakers)! This is a long list in two parts. To see the definition of a word, just put your mouse on the word. The definition will appear at the bottom of your screen. If you see a speaker icon, you can listen to an example sentence.


Your Turn:
This site has 8 quizzes to test your knowledge of Notorious Confusables. (The link is at the top of the page.) Take these tests before you look at the list. Then check your wrong answers from the list. After you're finished, review the list for other words you're not sure about.



An oxymoron is a phrase that has words that seem to have opposite meanings. Studying oxymorons is a very interesting way to think about and learn vocabulary. Here are some examples of oxymorons:

-a new classic
-dry wine
-fresh frozen
-pretty ugly

At this site, you'll find a very long list of oxymorons that people have sent in to the editor. Some of them are serious oxymorons, and some are funny. Sometimes they are oxymorons because one of the words has a double meaning (pretty ugly).


Your Turn:
Make a list of 5 or 6 oxymorons from the list. Why are they oxymorons? What are the words that have opposite meanings? What are the opposite meanings? Are they really opposite or is there another explanation (a double meaning, for example)? Are they serious or funny oxymorons?

Phrasal Verb Dispenser


Here's a fun way to practice phrasal verbs! Phrasal verbs are those tricky two-word verbs like "chop up," "take back," and "put out." To play this game, first select a category. Then try to match up the verb, particle, and meaning for each phrasal verb. Click "check" to see if you're right. If you're correct, you'll get a refreshing cold drink from the dispenser! This is a fun way to test yourself and to learn some new phrasal verbs. Remember to add any new ones to your vocabulary notebook. And try to use them in conversation!

You'll need Shockwave to use this site.

Pun of the Day


Puns are jokes that play with the English language. This site has a new pun every day. The puns on this site are good for advanced students, but even if you're not an advanced student, why don't you try to understand them? Here's an example:

"The Irish should be rich because their capital is always Dublin."

Get it? 'Dublin' sounds like 'doublin'(g).' and 'capital' means the city in a country where the national government is located. But 'capital' also can mean money. So the Irish should always be rich because their money is always doubling. To read the puns, click one of the categories under "Archives." You can also sign up for the mailing list and they'll send you a new pun every day in your email.



Here's a fun way to increase your vocabulary. Think of any word and enter it in the box. The computer will then find a list of words that rhyme with that word. You can also search for the definition, antonyms, synonyms, and more! After you study the word, look at the word in context as it's used by famous writers. You can even find pictures that are related to the word.


Your Turn:
Before you use this site, choose a word and write down as many rhyming words as you can. Then compare your list with the RhymeZone list.



There are many, many words in the English language. But there are still lots of things that we don't have names for! For example, what should we call all the coke, popcorn, and candy that sticks to the floor after a movie is finished? There is no name for that! Wouldn't it be useful if there was a word we could use to describe it! Well, this site has a word for it: CINEMUCK! But it's a made-up word. You won't find it in any dictionary. (Actually, lots of real words start as made-up words; for example, slang.) You'll find a long list of made-up words and their definitions at this funny site. Can you guess why they chose a certain word to describe something?


Your Turn:
Try to think of a thing or an action that doesn't have a useful word for it. Write the definition and then make up a new word! Now show the new word to your classmates and see if they can guess the meaning!



Have you ever mixed up your sounds when you speak English? For example, maybe you said "belly jeans" instead of "jellybeans." If you make new words when you do this, you're making a spoonerism! At this site, you'll find a whole bunch of funny spoonerisms!


Your Turn:
Study this list of spoonerisms, and then try to think of a few of your own spoonerisms. Work with a partner, and see which team can think of the most.



Do you use a dictionary when you are reading a web site in English? With Voycabulary, you can click on ANY WORD on a web page and instantly find the meaning or translation. This fantastic site is easy to use. First enter the web page address (URL). It's best to copy-and-paste the URL from the web page. Then choose the kind of dictionary you want to use. You can use a regular English dictionary or thesaurus, or you can use a translating dictionary. Push the Process button, and you will see your web page. Now you're ready to use the Voycabulary. Try it. Just click on any word. It's amazing!! By the way, you can follow links on your page. Click on an arrow, and you will go back to Voycabulary. Then just click the Process button again, and you'll see your new page. This is a very useful tool to help you understand what what you're reading, and also help you to improve your vocabulary!



A watchamacallit is what we call anything we don't know or can't remember the name of. At this site, you'll find the names of some of the parts of common things we use everyday. For example, you probably know the word "comb." But do you know the names of the two parts of a comb?


Your Turn:
Find another common everyday object. Do you know the names of the small parts? If you don't, try to make up some new words for them. Maybe someday you'll see your new words in the dictionary!

Words in the News


Here's a great site from the BBC where you can keep up on the news and increase your vocabulary. First, choose a story from the archive. Then you can read and/or listen to the story. Each story has a vocabulary guide to help you understand the story. Archives are available for the last 3 years.

The Word Spy


English is a language that is always changing. New words and phrases are being added to the language all the time. At this site, you can keep up-to-date with all the new words that are being added to English. For example, you probably know that "maternity leave" is when an employer gives time off to a worker to take care of her new baby. But a new phrase is being used for when an employer gives time off to a worker to take care of his/her dying parent. It's called "eternity leave." On this page, you'll find the 100 most popular new words and phrases. Each word has a definition and example of how it is used. You can find more words by using the alphabetical index or the subject index.


Your Turn:
Look at a new word or phrase and try to guess what the meaning might be. Sometimes a new phrase might use familiar words in a different way. Check the meaning and see if you were right or wrong.




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