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October 2009

In this Issue

Perfect Quotes
More Resources
Vocabulary Builder
Video English
Grammar Spot
Improved Writing
Readers' Questions

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Confusing Words
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Word of the Day

Do you know the meaning of ...


Check out the English4Today Dictionary section

Quick Quote

The English language has a deceptive air of simplicity so have some little frocks but they are both not the kind of thing you can run up in half an hour with a machine.

Dorothy L. Sayers

Confusing Words

can :: may

Did you download English4Today's latest free studyGuide? Download today!


"What does the word 'Halloween' mean?" The name is actually a shortened version of "All Hallows' Even," the eve of All Hallows' Day. "Hallow" is an Old English word for "holy person," and All Hallows' Day is simply another name for All Saints' Day, the day Catholics commemorate all the saints. At some point, people began referring to All Hallows' Even as "Hallowe'en" and then simply "Halloween."

If you want to know more about the pagan origin and celebration of Halloween have a look at the English4Today blog posting which is all about Halloween.

Also check out Quotes4Today now for halloween quotes!



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Word of the Month

This month's Featured Video


Well, it is Halloween and the celebration started as a pagan festival so we thought that we'd give your the dictionary meaning of 'pagan' this month.

Remember, you can look up words in the English4Today Online Dictionary and then add them to your personal dictionary (myVocab) if you have a free membership.


1. one of a people or community observing a polytheistic religion, as the ancient Romans and Greeks.
2. a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim.
3. an irreligious or hedonistic person.
4. pertaining to the worship or worshipers of any religion that is neither Christian, Jewish, nor Muslim.
5. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of pagans.
6. irreligious or hedonistic.

All you need to start your own personal dictionary web is a free English4Today membership.



This month's Featured Video

This month we have launched our Listening and Pronunciation section on the website. We've started of with a lot of useful phrases that you can listen to and practice. And we'll be building on this as the months go by.

Getting your accent and pronunciation right is a really important part of learning English and one that isn't often treated on the Internet. So we've developed this section to address that and to provide another really useful English language learning tool for our users. And if you are a member of English4Today you can access examples and plenty of exercises with your free membership. If you are a Premium subscriber you can even download the sound files for use on your MP3 player or iPod.

Practice listening and pronunciation now!

Grammar Spot : THE PASSIVE

July Grammar Spot

The passive voice is used to show interest in the person or object that experiences an action rather than the person or object that performs the action, e.g.

  • The passive is used ...:
    Here we are interested in the 'passive', not who uses it.
  • The house was built in 1654:
    Here we are interested in the 'house', not the builder.
  • The road is being repaired:
    And here we are interested in the 'road', not the people repairing it.

In other words, the most important thing or person becomes the subject of the sentence.

For the full explanation go to: English4Today Online Grammar. And
'How to form the Passive'

Readers' Questions : Forming the plural

Readers' QuestionsEvery month we publish one question from an English4Today member in the newsletter. However, we answer a lot more in the Online Grammar FAQ and a lot of them have podcast sound files with the answers.

This month's question was sent in by Harris from the USA:

When using someone's last name and trying to use it in a sentence showing plurality. How do you punctuate a last name that ends in -is. Example: The Harris's or Harris' are having a get together this evening.

You are confusing the possessive and the plural - easy enough to do!
The 's denotes possession. For example, 'The Harris's dog'
If you want to talk about all of the Harris family, that is a question of number rather than possession, then you would use 'es'. For example, 'All of the Harrises were at the party.'

Get the full answer now