English Basics: Resources For Language Learners

Everything we’ve written about English, all in one place.
English basics represented by a group of friends roller blading during the evening in California in front of a sandy beach, with a blue frame around the image with the word English in the bottom left corner.

English isn’t the easiest language to learn. Fortunately, as the most widely spoken language in the world, there are a lot of resources out there for you. We compiled all of our articles about learning English in one place for you, making it a centralized place for you to grow your language skills.

While there’s quite a lot here, it’s roughly organized to follow the path of learning a language. We start with the basics, then provide recommendations on resources you can use to learn a language. There’s also quite a bit here about the history and present of the English language, which can be interesting to even native speakers. Whether you’re just setting out to learn the language or well on your way, there’s something here for you.

Basic English Words And Phrases

The first steps of a language are tackling the most basics phrases. If you’re reading this article, you might be past that already, but these can still come in handy!

How To Say Hello In English
Lost for words? Is it “Hi,” “Hey” or “Yo!”? Make your first splash into English-speaking society in style, and learn the many ways to say hello in English — like a local!

22 English Adjectives Every Beginner Should Know
Learn the words “good,” “far,” “ready” and more, with example sentences.

The 20 Most Common English Verbs
You can get pretty far in English with just these verbs.

English Filler Words
“Um,” “uh” and “ah” aren’t mistakes, they’re useful tools for speaking a language.

How And When To Use English Modal Verbs
Modal verbs like “can,” “will” and “may” can be tricky for a learner, so we compiled this quick guide.

Finding Your Way Around Phrasal Verbs In English
English speakers use phrasal verbs a lot. To improve your English, you’ll need to use them too. Learn the four varieties of phrasal verbs and the right way to use them.

A Guide To The English Alphabet
The English alphabet isn’t so difficult if you know these quirks.

How To Talk About Your Family In English
Untangling the family tree can be difficult.

General Tips For Beginners Learning English

Here’s our best advice for learning English specifically, from a wide range of experts.

5 Tips For Finally Mastering English
If you’re reading, you can presumably already speak English. This article is for everyone who wants to improve and finally perfect their English.

A Guide To English Punctuation
Learn how to use periods, commas, semicolons and more in English.

What Is A Syllable, And How Do You Count Syllables In English?
Syllables are small units of language, and learning to count them can help you break down words into simpler parts.

12 English Words Even Native Speakers Pronounce Wrong
English pronunciation is notoriously difficult, even when you’ve been speaking it your whole life.

Small Talk In English
Small talk can be intimidating, especially in a new language. Here’s how to make some small talk in English.

How To Update Your English Pronunciation
So you already speak English, but are you concerned that you sound a little too much like the Queen and not enough like Idris Elba? These tips are here to help.

English Movies, Books And Other Media

Gotten past the basics and want to supplement your language learning? We have some books, movies and podcasts that’ll help.

8 Books To Help You Learn English
From classic children’s literature to Hemingway, there’s something on here for English learners of all skill levels.

7 TV Shows To Watch If You’re Learning English
With or without subtitles, these shows can help you practice listening to the language.

Famous Last Words: A Babbel Podcast For English Learners
Brush up on your English-language idioms and laugh about weird slang with Babbel’s podcast for English learners.

Talking On The Job: Babbel’s Business English Podcast
Each episode helps you through a difficult workplace situation with useful tips.

English Dialects, Accents And Slang

There’s no single English. In fact, there are quite a few. Here’s our guide to all the different varieties of the language, broken down even further by topic.

Your Quick Guide To (Almost) Every English Accent
There are dozens (upon dozens) of English accents across the globe, but here’s a quick guide to the most notable.

The United States And Canada

21 American English Phrases To Know
Not sure how to fit into the US of A? Don’t get bent out of shape, just learn a few American English phrases.

The United States Of Accents: A Guide To The American Ways Of Speaking
There are a lot of American Accents out there, and we’re trying to explore all of them in our series, “The United States Of Accents.”

The United States Of Accents: General American
People love pointing out each other’s accents, but what about Americans who don’t seem to have one?

The United States Of Accents: Midwestern American English
In this edition of the United States of Accents, we look at the varied dialects of the Midwest, which definitely do not sound like Fargo.

The United States Of Accents: California English
In this edition of the United States of Accents, we explore what a typical Californian sounds like and why it’s so very difficult to define a “typical Californian.”

The United States Of Accents: Dialects Of The East Coast Cities
In this installment of the United States of Accents, we cover a lot of ground by looking at the speech of Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The United States Of Accents: Pacific Northwest English
In this installment, we’re exploring the elusive but definitely real Pacific Northwest accent.

The United States Of Accents: Hawaii English And Pidgin
In this installment, we talk about how English came to the 50th state and how Pidgin became central to the identity of Hawaii.

The United States Of Accents: New Orleans And Cajun English
In this edition, we talk about the accents found in southern Louisiana and the immigrants who brought them there.

The United States Of Accents: Native American English
In this edition of United States of Accents, we talk about Native American English, or the Reservation Accent, and where it might have come from.

The United States Of Accents: High Tider
In this edition, we talk about High Tider, which is considered the last existing British accent in the United States.

The United States Of Accents: African American Vernacular English
What is AAVE? Where did it come from? How is it used today?

The United States of Accents: Southern American English
What is the Southern accent? Where did it come from? Why are we calling it Southern American English? All this and more are answered in this installment of the United States of Accents.

The United States Of Accents: New England English
If you hear “New England Accent” and think Boston: well, not exactly.

How American English Grew Its Wings
When did American English become distinct from British English? A brief chronology.

Are Regional Accents Disappearing In The United States?
It may seem like people are sounding more and more similar, but this country’s linguistic map is as complicated as ever.

When Did Americans Lose Their British Accents?
Technically, they never did, but the answer is more complicated than that.

Rhoticity In British And American English
Don’t let “rhoticity” intimidate you it’s just how the letter R is pronounced.

What Are The Differences Between American And British English?
Are the Brits and Americans really “separated by a common language”? How different are these two versions of English, actually?

What Are The Differences Between Canadian And American English?
Is Canadian English its own language variety? And if so, what makes it different?

15 Words Canadians Use You Might Not Be Familiar With
Canadian English has lots in common with American English, but there are a few words Canadians use that might throw you off.

The United Kingdom And Ireland

School Of British Accents: A Tour Of The British Isles In 8 Dialects
What does a British accent sound like? It depends who you’re asking and where you are in the British Isles.

School Of British Accents: The Geordie Accent
Learn about the history of the accent and how to speak a little of it yourself.

School Of British Accents: The Yorkshire Accent
Yorkshire is home to one of the UK’s most-loved accents, but mastering it is no mean feat!

School of British Accents: The Scouse Accent
The Scouse accent is one of the most recognizable accents in the United Kingdom.

School of British Accents: The Scottish Accent
Scottish English makes a strong case for being one of the coolest accents in the United Kingdom, but mastering the accent is no walk in the park! Here’s how you can sound like a bonafide Scot!

School Of British Accents: The Welsh Accent
One of the UK’s most-loved accents, Welsh English is as melodic as it is challenging!

School Of British Accents: The West Country Accent
Take a linguistic trip down to the West Country and learn the essentials you’ll need to blend in with the locals!

School Of British Accents: The Cockney Accent
Love London? Then it’s time you realized your dream of speaking like a real cockney!

11 Bloody Brilliant British English Phrases
If it’s your dream to enjoy a cream tea with the King, or treat yourself to a pint down the pub, you’ll need to master these essential British phrases!

7 Phrases You’ll Only Hear In The UK (And How To Use Them Like A Boss)
British and UK phrases can be elusive — even to other native English speakers. Here are some of the most popular and their translations.

What Is Cockney Rhyming Slang, And How Do You Speak It?
Have a butcher’s at our guide to this linguistic phenomenon.

What Is Received Pronunciation, And Is There A Better Term For This Accent?
We explore this and other terms (perhaps one we should use instead!).

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Irish Accent
What is the Irish accent? Are there perhaps more than one? Here’s an overview of Irish English.

Australia And New Zealand

The New Zealand Accent: More Than ‘Fush And Chups’
The New Zealand accent is one of the most distinctive English accents — and it’s also one of the trickiest. Here’s everything you wanted to know about the kiwi accent.

What Are The Differences Between An Aussie And Kiwi Accent?
The New Zealand and Australian accent are close, but mistaking one for the other is a big faux pas. Here’s how to keep them straight.

How To Speak Australian
It’s not all “brekkie” and “barbie.” To speak like a true Australian, you have to learn to stop being such a wanker first.

How Australian English Grew Its Wings
How did Australian English become distinct from British English? We explore its history from 1788 until today.

A History Of New Zealand English: The Little Accent That Could
The New Zealand accent is something of a rare gem for linguists, as it was the first dialect to have its entire development recorded on tape.

10 New Zealand English Phrases You Can’t Bugger Up, Eh?
If you’ve ever wondered what your kiwi friends meant by “tramping,” then this article is for you.

The Rest Of The World

Dictionary Of Glishes: Spanglish, Japanglish, Denglish And More
English has created hybridized languages in places all over the world.

How South African English Grew Its Wings
How did South African English end up sounding so distinct — and which features make it particularly unique? An expert explains.

Historical English

9 Elizabethan Words To Bring Back
What new (or, to be exact, old) words and phrases would you hear if you traveled back to 16th century Tudor England?

Slang From The 1920s That Needs To Make A Comeback
A lot can change for a language in 100 years.

The 1950s Slang Phrases That Defined The Decade
The slang of your parents and grandparents will always sound a bit outdated, but that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting.

The Best 1960s Slang To Get Your Groove On
Looking for a blast from the past? Join us as we revisit some of the grooviest 1960s slang.

The 1970s Slang Phrases That Defined The Decade
Time to boogie on back to the decade of disco.

The 1980s Slang That Defined The Decade
From Val-speak to a Wendy’s commercial, the 1980s were a weird time.

The 1990s Slang That Defined The Decade
Plenty can change in 30 years, but here are a few phrases from the ’90s that we truly need back in our lives.

The 2000s Slang That Defined The Decade
The 2000s weren’t that long ago, but some of these terms will feel like they’re from a different lifetime.

English Etymologies

English draws on a lot of different sources for its vocabulary. Let’s look at some of the lexicon, and where we get the words we use today.

Where Do English Words Come From?
English’s history can be traced back thousands of years. It’s picked up quite a few words from around the world during that time, though.

The Stories Behind The Most Common English Folk Etymologies
Ever heard the fascinating story of where a word came from, like Napoleon’s horse Pumpernickel, only to discover that it wasn’t true? We untangle some messy histories.

111 English Words That Are Actually Spanish
Spanish and English have been trading vocabulary (and culture) for centuries.

79 English Words That Are Actually Italian
From “umbrella” to “al dente,” English has taken quite a few words from Italian.

21 English Words That Are Actually Greek (And The Stories Behind Them)
Greek didn’t have the biggest influence on English, but there are plenty of words you know that have the origins in the language.

139 Old Norse Words That Invaded The English Language
Without the Vikings, English would be missing some pretty awesome words like berserk, ugly, muck, skull, knife, die and cake.

31 English Words That Are Actually French
English and French have been closely connected for almost a millennium, so these 31 words are just the beginning.

14 Words That Used To Mean Something Else
The cool thing about etymology is that it actually doesn’t guarantee anything!

11 English Words With Strange and Surprising Origins
Ever wonder why it’s called a “seersucker suit” or where the word “avocado” comes from?

Eponyms Everywhere: 8 English Words That Came From Names
When you boycott a business or play the saxophone, you’re putting eponyms to use!

11 Words Invented By Italian-Americans
It’s not all “gabagool.” Here’s a fun collection of words invented by Italian-American immigrants during the past century.

11 Common English Words That Have Racist Origins
Chances are, you’ve used at least one of these in casual conversation without knowing its problematic past.

English Puzzles, Quizzes And Other Fun Stuff

Looking for a break from hard studying? Here are some fun quizzes and fact-filled articles that’ll grab your interest.

General English Quiz
There’s so much more to a language beyond just the basics of vocab and grammar. Take our English language quiz to see how well you know English.

Collective Nouns Quiz
Do you know what a group of whales are called? What about unicorns? Test your collective noun knowledge with this quiz!

British And American English Quiz
Do you know your football from your soccer?

8 English Phrases That Don’t Make Any Sense
It’s not just you: “the apple of my eye” really doesn’t make that much sense. We look into the history of eight weird English phrases.

English Sports Idioms
You can’t speak English naturally without knowing at least a little about sports.

What Are The Longest English Palindromes?
Palindromes are words or phrases that are the exact same back and forth, and discovering new ones can be a lot of fun.

The 9 Weirdest Things About The English Language
I before e, except for in a bunch of random words that don’t rhyme with “neighbor” or “weigh.” English is hard. Let’s discuss.

11 Old Sailing Terms We Use All The Time In English
Ahoy, there! Your language is probably a bit more nautical than you think.

Miscellaneous English Facts

There’s a lot more to English than the vocabulary and grammar. Here’s a look at some fascinating aspects of the language.

How Many People Speak English, And Where Is It Spoken?
Counting non-native speakers, English is the most widely spoken language in the world. But where, exactly, are the speakers?

When Did Middle English Become Modern English?
It’s hard to put an exact date on linguistic eras, but we look at the historic events that led to English changing so drastically a few hundred years ago.

7 Former English “Errors” We Now Consider Correct
If enough people make the same mistake, is it still a mistake?

Gender-Neutral English, Dear? We’ve Been Using It For Centuries!
Using gender-neutral language has gotten a lot more attention lately, but its history in the English language goes way back.

7 Things English Can’t Do (But Other Languages Can)
No language is better than any other, but each one has its own limitations. Here are some things you can’t do in English.

Why “Like” Is One Of The Most Flexible Words In The English Language
You may have heard people complain about the overuse of “like,” but it’s only common because it works in so many different situations.

How Many Vowel Sounds Does English Have?
The English alphabet has five vowels, but it has quite a few more vowel sounds.

What Is A Glottal Stop, And How Does It Work In English?
The glottal stop is a pretty unique feature in the English language. Here’s what it is, how it’s used, and which other languages it appears in.

Why Does The English Alphabet Lack Accent Marks?
English is somewhat unique in that it uses basically no accent marks.

The Story Of English, In Its Own Words
Ever ask yourself why people from Newcastle sound suspiciously Scandinavian? Or maybe why English has so many cognates with other languages? Find out!

How Typos And Misspellings Have Changed The English Language
R typos the future of wrting?

How And Why Did English Supplant French As The World’s Lingua Franca?
A lingua franca is a second language that people from different countries have in common, and it makes international communication possible.

The Eccentric History Of English Spelling (And Why It’s So Maddeningly Difficult)
Why is it so difficult to spell words in English? It turns out that the inconsistency of English spelling is a long, rambling history with many people to blame along the way.

Are These English Things Really English?
Bulldogs, muffins and more to explore.

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