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42 Ways to Say “Yes” in English

Scrabble letters spelling yes.

Scrabble letters spelling yes.

When someone asks you if you want that second bowl of ice cream, how do you respond? With a resounding “yes!” of course! However, if your professor asks if you studied for the exam, you may respond with a less enthusiastic “absolutely.”

According to Merriam-Webster, the word “yes” is a term that can be used to do the following:

  • Give a positive answer or reply to a question, request, or offer
  • Express agreement with an earlier statement or to say that statement is true
  • Introduce a statement that corrects or disagrees with an earlier negative statement

The word “yes” can be interpreted in so many different ways, depending on your context, tone, and word choice. Let’s explore the many nuances of this word and its synonyms.


When you’re in informal situations, you will often choose to use casual language. For instance, when speaking to your friends and family, you would probably respond with “yep” rather than the much more formal “indeed.”

Things have gotten even more casual as technology develops. As we communicate through texting and messaging apps, we continue to alter words like “yes” to convey subtly different meanings. Texting has also fostered the creation of short forms and slang. So, when you receive a text from your friend saying, “Hey, do you want me to grab you some tacos?” you can respond with any of the following versions of “yes:”

  1. Yes
  2. Ya
  3. Yep
  4. Yup
  6. Totally
  7. Totes
  8. Sure
  9. You bet

However, if your friend asks you to pick up some tacos, and you feel inclined to do so, you can respond with these variations:

  1. OK
  2. K
  3. Okay
  4. Okie dokie
  5. Alright
  6. Alrighty
  7. Sounds good
  8. For sure
  9. Sure thing


When you find yourself in formal situations, it is important to speak or write using formal language. Typically, you should avoid short forms, abbreviations, and slang.

Should you receive an email from your professor asking whether you are able to come in early to tutor a fellow student, you can respond with any of the following:

  1. Certainly
  2. Definitely
  3. Of course
  4. Gladly

And, if your boss asks if you will be able to make it to the budget meeting, you can use one of these hearty responses:

  1. Indubitably
  2. Absolutely
  3. Indeed
  4. Undoubtedly


Sometimes, the best way to respond is with a good ol’ sarcastic acceptance. Typically, these are used in informal circumstances when you want to be sassy or funny. Make sure you know your audience before whipping out one of these responses!

Although a truly sarcastic person is capable of making any of the responses in this post sound sarcastic, these ones in particular rely heavily on tone and body language and are commonly used in response to nagging and stupid questions—or to indicate angry acceptance.

  1. Yeah, yeah, yeah
  2. Fine
  3. Affirmative (Because it is so excessively formal, you’ll most likely find this used when someone is trying to sound funny or robotic.)
  4. Very well
  5. Obviously
  6. No (This last one really requires emphasis, and even perhaps an eye roll, to seal the deal.)


If you are feeling Shakespearean or just enjoy using archaic language, you can use these words to say “yes.” Unless you are writing a paper about medieval times or emailing an archaic language enthusiast, we don’t recommend using these words in formal writing.

  1. Aye
  2. Forsooth
  3. Yea
  4. Verily
  5. Surely

Sounds and Body Language

You can also express “yes” without words. These are particularly useful when your mouth is full of tacos and ice cream or when you find yourself just agreeing because you weren’t paying attention to the conversation.

  1. Mhmm
  2. Uh-huh
  3. [Nodding]
  4. [Thumbs up] The thumbs up emoji.
  5. [Okay sign] The okay emoji.

Phew! Who knew there were so many ways to say “yes” in English? The word “yes” has been changed over the years in order to adapt to every situation and medium in which it is used. We hope this has helped you to navigate the different ways to say “yes.”

Did we miss any? If you know other ways to say “yes,” share them with us on Facebook!

Image source: Aktim/


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Inklyo’s Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016

A bottle of champagne.

A bottle of champagne.

The year 2017 is almost upon us! As 2016 comes to end, we thought we would take a look at everything that happened this year: Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, a crazy U.S. election, and a great year of blog content for Inklyo.

In fact, it was hard to narrow our content down to just our top 10 posts. Thankfully, we had your help here. Based on how much our social media followers engaged with our content throughout the year, we’ve compiled a list of our top articles. Did your favorite make the list?

10. The Ultimate Proofreading Checklist

Our student followers found this post particularly helpful during essay season, which is probably why it takes tenth spot on the list. Although it can be tempting to skip the proofreading step after writing an essay, don’t do it! This checklist makes your final proofread quick and thorough.

9. How to Master the Cornell Note-Taking System

We are very excited to see this article in ninth spot. Not only does this system make note-taking more efficient, but it will help you study more effectively at exam time.

8. 6 Things I Learned my First Year as a Professional Editor

This post gives aspiring editors a glance into their future career. There is a learning curve with any new job, but we hope these six tips make it a little easier. Experience is the best teacher, but you can take advantage of the experiences of others to get the same knowledge.

7. 14 Ways to Make a Bad Impression on Your First Day of Work

This blog post is the ultimate what-not-to-do guide for your first day of work. First impressions are important, especially in a new position, so we weren’t surprised to see this post rank on our top blog-post list. We’re hopeful that everyone who read this post is enjoying and thriving in their new position!

6. The Order of Adjectives

Many English speakers don’t realize that there is an official order to use when using multiple adjectives to describe something—they just know what “sounds right.” To English as a second language (ESL) speakers, getting this order down is tricky. Our ESL followers enjoyed this post not only because it is highly informative but also because we used adorable puppies to illustrate the subject.

5. How to Identify Independent and Dependent Clauses

This post proved to be valuable to our followers, taking fifth place on the list. This guide helps you to identify independent and dependent clauses while relating everything back to your favorite drink: coffee.

4. Understanding Verb Moods with 15 Hilarious Tweets

Learning about verb moods can be boring, but these 15 hilarious tweets spiced the subject up! This was a fun post to write, and it’s made even better by the knowledge that our followers liked it enough to push it into fourth position on our list.

3. The Language Sandwich: An Overview of the 9 Parts of Speech

After reading this post, you will feel both informed and hungry. No wonder this article–infographic combo was the third most popular Inklyo blog post! It educates you on a key aspect of grammar—the parts of speech—using a mouth-watering illustration.

2. Becoming an Editor or Proofreader: A Comprehensive Guide

Aspiring editors and proofreaders flocked to this post, which organizes all our editing and proofreading advice in one easy-to-navigate place. It walks you through the steps of becoming an editor or proofreader from training to paycheck, making it no surprise that it was such a hit with our followers and ranked in second place.

1. 20 English Idioms with Surprising Origins

Our official most-popular post of 2016 is both entertaining and informative, explaining some of the most common English idioms. From “riding shotgun” to “biting the bullet” to “hands down,” mysteries that puzzle native English and ESL speakers alike are explained in this post.

We want to thank you all so much for reading and responding to our posts. As much as we enjoyed 2016, we are excited to see what awaits this blog in the New Year. Check out our Facebook and Twitter pages to see more great content in 2017!

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The 8 Scariest Monsters in Literature

Scariest Monsters in Literature

A scary mosnter from literature.Introduction

The thin layer of frost, brisk air, and falling leaves all signify one thing: it is finally that time of year when it is socially acceptable to eat hundreds of tiny chocolate bars in one sitting.

October is hands down the best month of the year. By day, you can enjoy the beautiful fall weather, and by night, you can indulge in your favorite guilty pleasure (besides chocolate): horror novels. Seriously, fall is an excellent time to dive into a good book, and every great horror novel begins and ends with a good monster. Don’t believe me? Check out this list of the scariest monsters in literature.


Dracula: the original vampire. He is not the sparkly vampire we are accustomed to. He was brought to life in 1897 by Bram Stoker. Dracula turns into a bat at night and can turn into a wolf during the day. Oh, in case you forgot, he also sucks blood. If that wasn’t enough, the man is as alluring as he is terrifying; he is described as a charming, handsome man that has an uncanny ability to blend into society.


Grendel is the antagonist from the poem Beowulf. He is often described as an incredibly strong giant. Not only is he large, he is also charmed in such a way that he isn’t affected by human weapons. He terrorizes Hrothgar’s kingdom and is feared by everyone (except Beowulf, of course). And it’s no wonder why—he can defeat dozens of men at a time and then eats the dead. Gross.

PennywisePennywise the clown.

Pennywise is the monster from Stephen King’s novel IT. It presents itself as a clown for the majority of the novel, terrorizing a small town. Pennywise has claws and razor-sharp teeth. Yeah, we know, it’s a terrifying image. To make it even worse, Pennywise preys on fear and targets children.

Beldam (The Other Mother)

Beldam is the villain from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. In the novel, a young girl finds herself in an alternate world that is a mirror image to her own. There, she meets Beldam, the Other Mother, who cares for and loves her unconditionally.

What, that doesn’t sound scary? Did we forget to mention the Other Mother is actually a witch who wants to sew buttons onto Coraline’s eyes and steal her soul? Yeah, no thanks.

Fun fact: Beldam actually means hag or witch, which is an excellent example of a charactonym.

Patrick Bateman

Patrick Bateman is the main character from the novel American Psycho, written by Bret Easton Ellis. Though he is of the human variety, Patrick the (maybe) serial killer is super scary. He lives out his darkest fantasies, including murder and cannibalism. This book is so twisted that it has been banned or labeled R18 in several countries. This is a novel for the die-hard horror fanatics, so please don’t give this novel to children!

Frankenstein’s MonsterFrankenstein's monster.

Mary Shelley delivered one of the most iconic monsters of all time in her book Frankenstein. Dr. Frankenstein combined various body parts to create this monster, which was given life by a mysterious spark. He is eight feet tall and very strong. After being abandoned by his creator, he seeks revenge and goes on a murder spree. Perhaps tied for scariest monster in this book is Dr. Frankenstein himself, the irresponsible scientist who ignores the consequences of his actions.


J.K. Rowling introduced the world to dementors in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. They are black, wispy, soul-sucking beings that patrol the Azkaban prison. When they are brought to Hogwarts to protect the students after the infamous Sirius Black escapes prison, they attack Harry without warning.


Are you scared yet? Share some of the scariest monsters you know with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Do you know what’s scarier than all these monsters combined? Grammar and spelling errors! Check out GrammarCamp and see how you can keep your writing error-free.


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Which Fictional Teacher Are You?

Teachers in literature have been portrayed as villains, heroes, confidants, and of course, mentors. These fictional teachers have helped us relate to our own experiences in the classroom, either as students or as teachers ourselves.

Who is your favorite fictional teacher? Do you have a similar teaching style, or do you use a completely different approach? Take this quiz and find out which fictional teacher you’d be!

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That vs. Which: Proper Usage Is the New Black

That vs. Which

That vs. Which

“All problems are boring until they’re your own.”

As pessimistic as that sounds, Red’s right. Maybe you’re in the middle of a sentence and you realize: “Wait! I don’t know if I should use that or which in this instance.” It’s important to pick the right one. You don’t want to go Jessica Simpson when you’ve got Rihanna.

Luckily, proper word usage is the new black. If you’re writing in British English, good news: that and which are accepted as interchangeable. However, if you’re writing in American English (or if you want your sentence to be as precise as possible), you need to use that and which correctly.

Before you can decide whether that or which is appropriate for a sentence, it’s important to know the difference between restrictive and non-restrictive clauses.

Restrictive Versus Non-restrictive Clauses

A restrictive clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence. If a restrictive clause were removed, the sentence would not make sense at all, or the meaning of the sentence would be significantly altered.

A non-restrictive clause introduces helpful information, but that information is not necessary for someone to be able to understand the sentence.

Remember: Every sentence is a story. Completing that story requires the correct choice: that or which.

Three Steps: That vs. Which

It’s important to keep restrictive and non-restrictive clauses in mind when considering the three steps for deciding whether to use that or which:

  1. Use that to introduce a restrictive clause and which to introduce a non-restrictive clause.
  2. When writing a restrictive clause, do not place a comma before that. When writing a non-restrictive clause, place a comma before which.
  3. When a non-restrictive clause appears in the middle of a sentence, place commas around it.

O’Neill, scatter the nuns! There’s a van full of examples coming through!

Using That

Sentence Structure“All I wanted was to eat the chicken that is smarter than other chickens and to absorb its power.

With the phrase “smarter than other chickens,” it is important to understand that Red is referring to a specific chicken: the smartest chicken.

“There used to be a sign that said ‘CAUTION! WET FLOOR!’ Really told people what was going on.”

The same can be said here. If the phrase “that said ‘CAUTION! WET FLOOR'” was absent, we would have no detail about the sign itself. The phrase is restrictive, so that is used.

“But it wasn’t my moral instincts that led me to Nicaragua in the summer of ’88. It was a young freedom fighter named Carlos.”

And as stated in Rule 2, that is not preceded by a comma because it is a restrictive clause.

Using Which

Now let’s look at which:

“I tried everything: soap shavings, fox pee, which they sell at the Home Depot for $120 a gallon . . .”

The non-restrictive clause following which reads almost like an addendum; it’s just extra information—a side note.

“So what if he drools a small pond? He takes care of you, doesn’t he? He takes care of your mother, and he’s handsome, and he’s good. And at least he’s trying, which is a lot more than I can say for you!”

As this example shows, which should be preceded by a comma.

“Well, I’ve always thought that agnostic was sort of a cop-out. But you know, if I had to label it, I’d say that I’m a secular humanist, which is not to say I’m not spiritual.”

Piper’s rambling illustrates how non-restrictive clauses simply add more information that is not completely necessary to the creation of a complete sentence. The same can be said for O’Neill’s rant against red velvet cake:

“No, in your heart of hearts, you know as well as I do, red velvet . . . tastes like Play-Doh. It is not velvety. And the only thing that’s good about it is the cream cheese frosting, which is meant to live on top of carrot cake, like God intended.”

The addendum about carrot cake is not imperative to the sentence that explains the only good element of red velvet cake.


Seeing that and which used incorrectly is more depressing than a Tori Amos cover band. Luckily, you have all the tools in your belt to use the correct word without fail. Now you can kick up your feet, relax, and maybe even enjoy a King Cone.

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9 English Grammar Videos That Are Anything But Boring

English Grammar Videos

Grammar is often labelled a boring subject, associated with dusty classrooms and complicated worksheets. Admittedly, we can understand why grammar doesn’t inspire happy thoughts in many people, but as any English teacher can tell you, grammar mishaps can be hilarious.

Don’t believe us? We’ve assembled a list of nine English grammar videos that prove how funny English grammar can be. Some are educational, and some are, well, just plain comical. Watch on and see for yourself.

1. Semicolon (feat. Solange)

Ah, the elusive semicolon. This tricky punctuation mark has created problems for many a student. Unfortunately, this hilarious rap will not teach you anything about the semicolon—unless you watch it right to the end. Regardless, you will laugh—hard.

Warning: This video contains some graphic language.

2. Word Crimes

“Weird Al” Yankovic educates the world on word crimes with this hilarious song. “Word Crimes,” of course, are grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes. It’s not all jokes, either. This English grammar video contains some good pieces of writing advice. Trust us, it’s a good use of three minutes.

3. The Elements of Style

William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White’s Elements of Style has been remixed into a clever rap. The video has it all: literary references, funny costumes, and solid writing advice. Turn your “ink to gold” and learn “how to put the pen down right” with this great video.

4. How to Pronounce Beyoncé

Have you ever wondered the proper way to pronounce Beyoncé? How about hyperbole? Or chipotle? Well, Pronunciation Manual will not help you. This YouTube channel is filled with horribly mispronounced words, a spoof of the Pronunciation Book channel, which provides accurate pronunciations. You will never say the word Beyoncé the same again.

Disclaimer: Just so everyone is clear, this is not actually how you say Beyoncé.

5. Stop Embarrassing Yourself

Saying words incorrectly is, according to Hank Green, the most embarrassing thing ever. Using his YouTube channel, vlogbrothers, Hank manages to provide a lesson on grammar, geography, and pronunciation in just three minutes.

6. Schoolhouse Rock: Conjunction Junction

A list of English grammar videos would not be complete without this Schoolhouse Rock video. It’s just a classic. Sprinkled with light humor and set to an incredibly catchy tune, “Conjunction Junction” has educated a generation of people on proper grammar (even if said people have forgotten it years later). Check it out to gain a comprehensive understanding of conjunctions.

Warning: There is a very good chance this song will get stuck in your head for ages—likely until next Christmas, when it will inevitably be replaced by an endless cycle of “Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer” (which is just as catchy if somewhat less educational).

7. Apostrophe Usage: The Rescue of a Misused Apostrophe

Set in modern day Chatham, Ontario, a group of soldiers go on a mission to save the misused and misplaced apostrophe. This is their story.

Disclaimer: If you witness punctuation misuse, please report it to

8. Noah Fence Taken

You know when you’re scrolling through your Facebook timeline and you see a status with really bad grammar—so bad it makes you cringe? Well, Jackfilms put that feeling into a video series. Join him as he recites some of the worst YouTube comments and social media posts of the week. This video is guaranteed to make you laugh, cringe, and maybe even cry.

Warning: This video also contains graphic language. He is, after all, reading Internet comments.

9. Learning English Pronunciation

If you learned the English language as a teenager or as an adult, then you remember the struggle. Understanding and pronouncing are two very different things, and it can be hard to get your pronunciation just right. This scene from the movie The Pink Panther pretty much sums up the struggle all English language learners face.


See? We told you we could prove it! Grammar may be boring at times, and English is certainly a hard language to learn, but we hope you see that learning grammar can be fun. If you need more help with English grammar, check out Inklyo’s GrammarCamp course or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


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Why Libraries Will Never Go the Way of Blockbuster

The Future of Libraries

The Future of Libraries

A few quick questions before we start:

  • Do you read the newspaper in print or online?
  • Do you watch reruns of your favorite movies and shows on DVD, or do you opt for Netflix instead?
  • Do you refuse to abandon print books, or do you adore the convenience of your e-reader?

As a consumer in the digital age, you have access to a greater volume of information in more formats than ever before. And regardless of how you answered these questions, the manner in which you access information and media has likely changed drastically. For example, online streaming of films and television shows has virtually eliminated video rental services (R.I.P., Blockbuster!).

Another question: Do you use your local public or academic library? If so, how often?

Many of us do not have the time to browse the stacks for hours on end, much as we might like to. What does this mean for the future of libraries?

Are libraries and the services they provide obsolete?

Though they have long been deemed the unfortunate victims of the digital age, here are a few reasons why libraries will not go the way of Blockbuster any time soon.

Quality versus Quantity

“Without libraries, what do we have? We have no past and no future.”

 – Ray Bradbury

A simple Google search will yield millions of hits in a fraction of a second. This means that we can find information on any topic imaginable almost instantaneously.

If this is so, why use library resources? Visiting a library in person or using a library website to access resources might seem like more of a hassle than anything else.

I’m sure you’re aware, though, that the information you find on the Internet is unpredictable in terms of quality (to put it nicely). Immediate answers to your questions are not necessarily the best answers. And depending on your purpose and the type of information for which you are searching, getting the wrong information could be problematic.

For example, using information from an anonymous online blog to write your paper on the history of the printing press could lead to a true research disaster. (No, the printing press was not invented by a wheat-loving baker named Glutenberg in an attempt to spread pro-gluten propaganda.)

Librarians can help you sift through the content you are bombarded with daily and filter out the misinformation.

Workspace-in-Library Librarians pride themselves on providing users with high-quality, trusted information. For example, as an alternative to resources like Wikipedia (which is fine for some preliminary research but should be used very cautiously as a final resource), libraries subscribe to electronic reference materials like dictionaries and encyclopedias. These sources provide information on an immense variety of subjects, with entries that are often written and signed by experts.

Information Access for All

“I go into my library and all history unrolls before me.”

 – Alexander Smith

As a true library advocate, this point is one of my favorites.

In my view, the principle on which libraries operate is truly democratic. Those who have access to meaningful information can make well-informed decisions in all areas of their lives.

Libraries help remove barriers to information access by providing all users with free information in a variety of formats on virtually any topic. Library policies ensure that all library resources are routinely evaluated to eliminate any potential barriers that could inhibit users as they access information (e.g., paywalls for journal articles or hard-to-reach shelves).

Historically, librarians have championed users’ right to information on all topics and have even fought against authorities that have attempted to bar users from accessing this information.

For example, the Windsor Public Library in Ontario posted an article discussing some of the glorious banned books being read by staff, just in time for the American Library Association’s banned book week.

Libraries also help support literacy and learning for people from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Sometimes referred to as the people’s university, libraries tackle the growing cost of education by providing free educational resources for everyone. These resources can provide academic support to students of all ages and aid those who wish to brush up on a topic or learn something new.

In addition, libraries can help users find a copy of virtually anything that exists bibliographically through interlibrary loans. This service allows users to obtain a copy of an item that is not held at their local library. Need an online article or a specific book? Before making an online purchase or running to the bookstore, try an interlibrary loan.

Though many of us are fortunate enough to have an Internet connection at home, some are unable (or unwilling) to subscribe to an Internet provider. Thankfully, libraries bridge the gap to digital information by offering free Wi-Fi so that users can surf the web and avoid paying a monthly Internet bill.

Always Adapting

“My lifelong love affair with books and reading continues unaffected by automation, computers, and all other forms of the twentieth-century gadgetry.”

Books in My Life, Robert Downs

Though the way that libraries offer their services has changed, the fundamental standards on which their services are based remain the same. Understanding user needs and emerging trends in information access are the guiding principles on which library services are based.

Libraries have demonstrated an incredible ability to adapt their services to shifting user needs. In an effort to reach more users and accommodate various preferences, library materials are offered in both traditional print and digital format.

Library SeminarIn fact, many libraries (public and academic alike) have increased their focus on developing their electronic collections and digital resources. For example, Hoopla, a database available through the Chatham–Kent and Windsor Public Library systems, lets users borrow free digital music, movies, and audiobooks, all of which can be downloaded to a computer or phone for offline access. Most libraries subscribe to expensive databases and electronic resources so that patrons are able to use them for free.

Beyond Internet resources and other media, many practical opportunities are made available through libraries that teach the public everyday skills, such as how to do CPR, how to do basic yoga, and how to properly use laboratory measuring equipment. These events not only impart knowledge but also connect people and encourage community involvement.


Libraries are no longer simply repositories for print books waiting to be checked out; they are spaces in which collaborative learning and engagement take place. Library programming and events are incredibly diverse and target all segments of the population, and the resources libraries provide benefit all members of the public.

Although it may be impossible to predict the future of libraries, these institutions have proven to be innovative and relevant. Libraries will continue to cater to the needs of the public, even as those needs change.

Image source: Daniella Winkler/, jarmoluk/, thrumprchgo/

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20 English Idioms with Surprising Origins

English Idioms

Raining Cats and Dogs: English Idioms with Surprising Origins

Idioms are figures of speech that become fixed in a language. Usually, an idiom is figurative in modern contexts but once had a literal meaning. These literal meanings, or idiom origins, can help a learner of English to understand where a phrase originated.

Ever wondered what it means to “turn a blind eye” or “pull out all the stops”? Wonder no more!

Because the English language is full of idioms, we wanted to compile a list of English idioms and their origins to help make better sense of how these idioms work in modern contexts.

Ready? Let’s go!

1. Straight from the horse’s mouth

Meaning: getting information directly from the most reliable source

Origin: This one is said to come from the 1900s, when buyers could determine a horse’s age by examining its teeth. It’s also why you shouldn’t “look a gift horse in the mouth,” as inspecting a gift is considered bad etiquette.

2. Let the cat out of the bag

Meaning: to mistakenly reveal a secret

Origin: Up to and including in the 1700s, a common street fraud included replacing valuable pigs with less valuable cats and selling them in bags. When a cat was let out of a bag, the jig was up.

3. Butter someone up

Meaning: to praise or flatter someone, usually to gain a favor

Origin: A customary religious act in ancient India included throwing butter balls at the statues of gods to seek good fortune and their favor.

4. Pulling someone’s leg

Meaning: teasing someone, usually by lying in a joking manner

Origin: Although pulling someone’s leg is all in good fun nowadays, it originally described the way in which thieves tripped their victims to rob them.

5. Wolf in sheep’s clothing

Meaning: someone who is pretending to be something they are not, usually to the detriment of others

Origin: This one’s attributed to the Bible (Matthew 7:15). The Bible also gave us “rise and shine” (Isaiah 60:1), “seeing eye to eye” (Isaiah 62:8), and a “broken heart” (Psalm 69:20).

6. Hands downHands Down

Meaning: without a lot of effort; by far

Origin: Winning “hands down” once referred to 19th-century horseracing, when a jockey could remove his hands from the reins and still win the race because he was so far ahead.

7. Riding shotgun

Meaning: riding in the front seat of a vehicle next to the driver

Origin: In the Wild West, the person who sat next to the driver was often equipped with a shotgun to kill any robbers that might happen upon the coach.

8. Barking up the wrong tree

Meaning: pursuing a misguided course of action

Origin: Likely referring to hunting, this saying explains when a dog would literally bark at the bottom of the wrong tree after the prey in question moved to the next branch.

9. Flying off the handleFlying Off the Handle

Meaning: suddenly becoming enraged

Origin: This one is said to come from poorly made axes of the 1800s that would literally detach from the handle. Yikes!

10. Cost an arm and a leg

Meaning: extremely expensive

Origin: The story goes that this phrase originated from 18th-century paintings, as famous people like George Washington would have their portraits done without certain limbs showing. Having limbs showing is said to have cost more.

11. Sleep tight

Meaning: used to tell someone to sleep well

Origin: One possible origin of this phrase dates back to when mattresses were supported by ropes; sleeping tight meant sleeping with the ropes pulled tight, which would provide a well-sprung bed.

12. Bite the bullet

Meaning: to perform a painful task or endure an unpleasant situation

Origin: In the 1800s, patients would literally bite on a bullet to cope with the pain of having surgery before anesthesia was common.

13. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

Meaning: look for avoidable errors so you don’t remove something good with the bad

Origin: This idiom allegedly comes from a time when the household bathed in the same water; first, the lord would bathe, then the men, the lady, the women, the children, and the babies last. The bath water is said to have been so dirty that there was a risk of throwing the baby out with the water once everyone was done bathing!

14. Jump the sharkJump the Shark

Meaning: the moment when a form of entertainment reaches a decline in quality by including gimmicks to maintain interest.

Origin: In the show Happy Days, the character Fonzie literally jumps over a shark while water skiing; afterward, radio personality Jon Hein popularized the phrase “jump the shark” to describe the decline of the show.

15. Minding your Ps and Qs

Meaning: being on your best behavior

Origin: There are many origin stories for this one, but perhaps the one that is most fun is that bartenders would keep track of the pints and quarts consumed by their patrons with the letters “P” and “Q.”

16. Turn a blind eye

Meaning: to consciously ignore unwanted information

Origin: The phrase “to turn a blind eye” is said to originate with Admiral Horatio Nelson, who allegedly looked through his telescope using his blind eye to avoid signals from his superior telling him to withdraw from battle.

17. Armed to the teeth

Meaning: to be extremely well equipped

Origin: The idea behind being “armed to the teeth” is that the weapon wielder would carry the maximum number of weapons, so many that he or she would be forced to carry some between his or her teeth.

18. Get one’s goatGet One's Goat

Meaning: to irritate or annoy someone

Origin: This one also comes from horseracing. Jockeys placed goats in the stables with their horses as this was said to relax the horses. However, competitors would remove the goats of their rivals to spook their competitors’ horses, hoping they would consequently lose the race.

19. Pull out all the stops

Meaning: to do everything you can to make something successful

Origin: Alluding to the piano-like instrument the organ, this phrase refers to when the stops are pulled out to turn on all the sounds in an organ, allowing the organ to play all the sounds at once and, therefore, be as loud as possible.

20. Dish fit for the gods

Meaning: a very scrumptious or delectable meal

Origin: We can thank Shakespeare for this expression (found in Julius Caesar), but we can also thank him for “foaming at the mouth” (Julius Caesar), “hot blooded” (The Merry Wives of Windsor), “in stitches” (Twelfth Night), “green-eyed monster” (Othello), “wearing your heart on your sleeve” (Othello), and “one fell swoop” (Macbeth).


Did any of these idiom origins surprise you? Do you know of any other English idioms with surprising origin stories? Alternatively, do you know of any other idioms in other languages that you think are interesting or funny? Share them with us on Facebook or Twitter!

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6 Things to Learn Outside the Classroom During University

University Life

We’re going to let you in on a little secret: most of what you learn in university you’ll learn outside the classroom.

Sure, the research professor you’ve spoken to twice is going to fill a great spot on your reference list. And, okay, I guess it is kind of nice to have a degree so you can do the thing you want to do for the rest of your life.

But the lessons learned about Anglo-Saxon coins in your Old English class will pale in comparison to the moment when you realize that your Old English professor is actually cooler than anybody else in the class. (Thanks for the pub night, M.J.)

In the end, the things you remember about university life will almost always occur outside of the classroom. Here’s a list of things to learn outside of the classroom during your university career.

1. Who to go to when you need help

So, you had a terrible day. It’s inevitable. You failed your midterm, you missed the bus, or you got splashed by a car on the way home. Maybe it’s even worse, like the guy you were seeing won’t answer your texts, your brother is in the hospital, or you feel desperately homesick. You need to vent.

Christmas CatBut your roommate is busy complaining about a ten-page research paper that’s due in the morning. Your parents aren’t answering your calls. (Why doesn’t Mom ever charge her phone?) Even the cat that used to visit your house is nowhere to be seen (just because you tried to dress him up like Santa for Christmas that one time . . .).

Where do you go?

It’s important to learn who to go to when you need help. Go to your friend who will always listen, not the one that’s always too busy to hang out. If that’s not enough, there are endless resources that nobody talks about. Most schools have student health services, and most will be happy to book an appointment for you. Even if there’s a waiting list, they should be able to provide you with a helpline or a group class.

Use every resource you can get your hands on. Book a yoga class. Try meditating at home. Keep a journal. Just know that you are never alone and that somebody, somewhere, will be able to help you.

2. What to do when you don’t know what to do

“Oh no, I should have taken biology. Why the heck am I a double major in vocals and political science?” This battle cry of confused students can be heard in schools everywhere. This is bigger than academics—this is your entire life! What do you do when you don’t know what to do? How do you decide?

Flip a coin. (No, I’m joking. Sort of.)

Make a list of everything you like to do. Make a list of everything you’re good at. Cross out anything that won’t support you financially.

Do you not have a list anymore? Welcome to adulthood.

Again, I’m joking!

Here’s the real secret: very few of us actually know what we’re doing. Anybody with a plan is really just hoping that plan will actually work out. Most people with a career path had a simple passion and chose a related field.

Nobody gets through four years of vocals and political science without some sort of desire to do so. Maybe you love something in there. Maybe you’re good at something in one of those fields. Maybe you thought you’d make a fortune being the world’s first operatic lawyer.

If not, then it’s time to regroup. Pick something you love, that you’re good at, or that will make you financially stable. If your choice happens to fit more than one of those categories, then great!

In the end, you might choose a path that you’re not totally certain about. Could it hurt you in the future? Might you regret your choice? Sure, of course. Eventually, though, you’ll just have to flip a coin. If all else fails, at least you tried something, and you won’t know you don’t like it unless you try it first.

Aha! Your mother was right all along. So maybe you will like broccoli when you get older. You just have to give it a chance.

3. When you’ve reached your limit

It might be drinking an entire mini-keg yourself on St. Patty’s Day. Or it might be taking on five classes, four clubs, three roommates, two part-time jobs, and the meanest professor in the world (in other words, the worst version of The 12 Days of Christmas ever). Either way, you’re going to wake up regretting biting off more than you can chew.

Recognizing your limit is the sign of being a grown-up. If you don’t think you can handle four clubs and two part-time jobs on top of all of your classes, drop something. Drop three things. Do whatever you need to do to stay happy and healthy. You are not Superman (and you don’t need that whole bottle of wine to yourself).

4. Where to get anything and everything cheaper

Surprise! It will often feel like your school wants to take all of your money. (I know, don’t fall over in shock.) Sometimes, the bursar’s office can feel like that bully on the school ground that shakes you by your shoes even though you only have three dollars. Just take my three dollars, and leave me alone, right?!

Used BooksWrong! Those are your three dollars. Yours. Spend them like they are magic beans.

Plant one in your local used bookstore and find your course books cheaper than a box of Ramen. The owner has probably already set up a bookshelf containing everything on your syllabus because he or she is expecting your arrival. Plant one in an off-campus clinic to get a discount on medication prices for students (and beauty products that are cheaper than the ones on campus). Plant one in a shared Netflix account with your roommates. Sure, you could just give them your password, but if you all split it, you’ll only pay a fraction, and you’ll get more magic beans in return to spend elsewhere.

See? Now you’re working the system. Time to climb that beanstalk!

5. Why your ridiculous roommate does the things he/she does

Maybe your roommate showers ten times a day. Or uses an entire roll of toilet paper every time he goes to the bathroom. Or refuses to share his frying pan with you and only speaks on the phone at three in the morning. Maybe she’s never held a broom, takes a cab everywhere she goes, and, you swear, only slams the cupboard doors to make you angry.

It’s so annoying that you can barely focus on anything else. You tell your mom about her antics every day. You and your roommates are going absolutely mad, and nobody knows what to do. She does all these terrible things!

But do you know why?

One of my past roommates was from a place where cleanliness was very important. She could only make phone calls late at night because of time zone differences. She cabbed everywhere because, back at home, it wasn’t safe to walk at night.

Okay, there’s no need to use an entire roll of toilet paper or scream so loudly on the phone. Still, understanding why somebody can be so frustrating is the first step to forgiveness. (Closing the cupboard doors more gently wouldn’t hurt anybody, though. Just talk to her about it!)

6. How to thrive looking less-than-cool

You’ll never have more fun than the time you wear a light-up Rudolph nose out to the bar for Christmas or the time that you and your roommates dress up as giant birthday bags for Halloween (even when the costumes melt off in the rain). Looking like an absolute fool is the first step to having an excellent time all throughout university, guaranteed.

People will stare at you. People will talk about you and roll their eyes and make faces. Guess what? It’s because they’re mad that they’re not having as much fun as you are. Ask them if they want to join you! If not, just keep doing you. That Rudolph nose your roommate bought you at the dollar store is going to be carefully stored with your other prized possessions, and nothing anybody says can ever destroy the fun you had that night.

So go to everything you can, and try to be the most ridiculous person there.

The guy who gives out Mardi Gras beads at the bar, the Stormtrooper riding a unicycle on the busiest street in the city, and the girl with the giant horse painted on her face at the big football game? Those people are always the ones that have the most fun.


Truly taking care of yourself during this wild time in your life is important. In the end, only you know what it is that will help you. If dressing up your roommate’s cat as Santa will bring you Christmas cheer, then it’s just going to have to deal with the jingle bells.

What’s important is that your university life be a series of ridiculous moments that you remember for the rest of your life.

Don’t focus only on classes, or you won’t notice when a life lesson speeds by you on a unicycle.

Image source: thelester/, Henry Lorenzatto/, Freddie Marriage/

How to Write an Essay in Five Easy Steps

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Understanding Verb Moods with 15 Hilarious Tweets

Understanding Verb Moods

Understanding Verb MoodsVerb moods are not unlike the moods of people (happy, sad, angry, etc.) in that they indicate the manner in which an action or condition is intended or conceived. Unlike people’s moods, though, which have an endless variety, a verb may only occur in one of three verb moods: the indicative mood, the imperative mood, or the subjunctive mood. Using funny tweets, we can begin to understand the different verb moods and how they function in English.

Also, as a disclaimer, we’re not saying that these tweets are flawless in terms of grammar and punctuation. They are, after all, just tweets. However, we hope they’ll help you understand the various verb moods in a way that is more entertaining than that of a typical grammar article!

The Indicative Mood

The indicative mood is used to express an assertion or denial or to ask a question. Since it’s the most common verb mood, most of the statements you make or read will be in the indicative mood. The tweets below all use the indicative mood, each one asserting a statement:

Although this tweet doesn’t make a statement, it does ask a question, meaning it also uses the indicative mood:

The Imperative Mood

The imperative mood is also a common mood, but it is used to give orders or to make requests. Take a look at the demands presented in the tweets below.

The Subjunctive Mood

Of the three moods, the subjunctive mood is the one that causes the most problems because it rarely appears in everyday conversation or writing. It is only used in a set of specific circumstances.

It is used in in contrary-to-fact clauses beginning with if:

It is used in wish statements:

It is used in “that” clauses following verbs such as ask, insist, recommend, request, and suggest:

It is used in certain set expressions such as be that as it may, as it were, come rain or shine, or far be it from me:

Finally, it is used in a dependent clause attached to an independent clause utilizing an adjective that expresses urgency (such as crucial, essential, important, imperative, necessary, or urgent):

Whatever your mood, follow Inklyo on Twitter for more great grammar-related content!