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English Language and History .com is a collection of two-minute tales drawn from history, myth and fiction. Each tale is accompanied by word games testing grammar and expression, based on textbooks used in British schools from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Straightforward English
Music: Benjamin Britten
Beware those who encourage ordinary people to be content with bureaucratic waffle or clumsy, SMS-style English.
By
N.L. Clay

IF ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ are to be more than catchwords, clear communication must be the rule, and not the exception. In a totalitarian state it may be sufficient for the dictator and his henchmen to be able to use straightforward language. Do we want a society in which placid masses take their orders from bosses?

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AZ Index

See a complete A-Z List of all the stories on this website.

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Scottish History’ (12 posts)
page 1
1 Diplomatic Immunity
By Sir James Melville
(1535–1617)
Sir James Melville eavesdrops on Queen Elizabeth I’s music practice, and incurs Her Majesty’s displeasure.
2 Mary Queen of Scots
Henry VII’s great-granddaughter Mary never grasped that even royalty must win the people’s respect.
3 Flodden Edge
The Scots paid a heavy price for honouring their ‘Auld Alliance’ with France.
4 The Jacobite Rebellions
Loyal subjects of King James II continued to fight his corner after he, and any real hope of success, had gone.
5 The Battle of Glen Shiel
King Philip V of Spain sent a second Spanish Armada against Britain, but it suffered much the same fate as the first.
6 The Tragedy of Macbeth
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Macbeth becomes wound in spells, and finds that one murder leads to another.
page 2
7 The Law of the Innocents
St Adamnán worked tirelessly to secure protection, rights and dignity for the women of Ireland.
8 Brahms: Three Intermezzi Op. 117
A Scottish widow’s lullaby for her fatherless child inspired his music, but Brahms’s message struck closer to home.
9 The Battle of Neville’s Cross
Ralph Neville spoiled David of Scotland’s alliance with France in the Hundred Years’ War
10 Fiddler Tam
Music by
Thomas Erskine, Earl of Kellie
An 18th century bon viveur and virtuoso violinist, Thomas Erskine is currently being ‘rediscovered’ by the classical music industry.
11 Black Agnes Dunbar
When Edward III sent the Earl of Salisbury to take her absent husband’s castle, Agnes brushed his attack aside - literally.
12 The Ladder with Twenty-Four Rungs
The Duke of Argyll was pleasantly surprised to find one of his gardeners reading a learned book of mathematics - in Latin.

Word Play: Spinner

Use these words together in a single sentence:

Sat. Smile. Sometimes.

New Stories
The only truly global conflict in history began when German troops crossed into Poland in September 1939.
By Richard Cobden
(1804-1865)
Richard Cobden questioned both the wisdom and the motives of politicians who intervene on foreign soil.
To the poor of England, the Worcestershire man gave affordable pots and pans, and to all the world he gave the industrial revolution.
After Louis XIV’s grandson Philip inherited the throne of Spain, the ‘Sun King’ began to entertain dreams of Europe-wide dominion.
New Puzzles
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Try writing complete sentences using these nouns as either the subject or the object of a verb.
Try writing complete sentences using these verbs in either the active or the passive voice.
Polyword ‘Hero’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Practise doing sums using multiples of 25, 50 and 75.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with DOOR and finish with STEP.
Practise your twelve times table against the clock.
Make words like ‘give in’ and ‘switch off’, and then find other words to express their meaning.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (359)
Fiction (77)

letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

More like this: ‘Countdown’ letters game Games with Words

numbers game

Make the total shown using two or more of the numbers underneath it. You can add, subtract, divide and multiply. Use any number once only.

More like this: Maths Gym Mental arithmetic