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English Language and History

The brief stories below are taken from history, myth or fiction. Each one is accompanied by games and exercises in essential grammar and free composition, based on old school textbooks.

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The Summons Comes for Mr Standfast
two-part story
Music: George Frideric Handel
In John Buchan’s story about the Great War, Richard Hannay must watch as his friend sacrifices his life for the Allies.
By John Buchan

THEY took Peter from the wreckage with scarcely a scar except his twisted leg. Death had smoothed out some of the age in him, and left his face much as I remembered it long ago in the Mashonaland hills.

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AZ Index

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

Featured Topic
page 1
1 Heracles and the Cattle of Geryon
Heracles must get the better of a three-bodied giant and steal his cattle.
2 Heracles and the Girdle of Hippolyte
A princess covets the belt of a warrior-queen, so Heracles is despatched to get it for her.
3 Heracles and the Mares of Diomedes
Eurystheus pits his cousin against a son of Ares and some man-eating horses.
4 Heracles and the Cretan Bull
Heracles seems to be the only one who can keep Poseidon’s rampaging white bull under control.
5 Heracles and the Birds of Lake Stymphalia
Our hero is sent to deal with some man-eating birds, but cannot reach their lakeside refuge.
6 Heracles and the Augean Stables
Heracles shows his capacity for thinking outside the box, but spoils it by trying to be just a little bit too clever.
page 2
7 Heracles and the Erymanthian Boar
Snaring a wild boar turns out to be much less dangerous than keeping centaurs away from their wine.
8 Heracles and the Cerynaean Hind
Eurystheus sends his cousin on another labour, this time hoping the task is too delicate for the big man.
9 Heracles and the Hydra
The Greek hero thinks he has paid off more of his debt to the gods, but an unpleasant surprise awaits him.
10 Heracles and the Nemean Lion
Sending a hero off to ‘certain death’ never seems to work out...
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Verb or Noun?

Use each of the words below once as a noun and once as a verb:

Reach. Hang. Find.

The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.
By William Ewart Gladstone
William Gladstone explains that a truly ‘exceptional nation’ respects the equality and rights of all nations.
By William Ewart Gladstone
William Gladstone warns voters not to leave foreign policy in the hands of interventionist politicians.
By Samuel Smiles
George Stephenson won the admiration of French navvies by showing them how a Geordie works a shovel.
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.
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.
Polyword ‘Loft’
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
Show you know the difference between these frequently confused words.
Do you know ‘cunning’ (3 letters), and ‘Phobos’s primary’ (4 letters)?
Do you know ‘complaint’ (4 letters), and ‘be the right size and shape for a space’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘pull along behind one’ (3 letters), and ‘self-evident or accepted proposition’ (5 letters)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
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History (375)
Fiction (80)

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