Idioms from head to toe!

Many figurative expressions in English refer to parts of the human body. You’ve already got all the body parts, so here are some new ways to use them – in your writing! Let’s take it from the top…

1. Have your head in the clouds: Be lost in fantasies or daydreams

He thinks selling non-fat water is a good business plan because he has his head in the clouds.

2. Let your hair down: Behave freely and without inhibitions

Even Zen monks can let their hair down sometimes!

3. Play something by ear: Do something without a fixed plan

“I’m completely deaf, so I just play everything by ear,” said the composer Beethoven.

4. Keep your chin up: Remain cheerful when things are difficult

“It’s hard to keep your chin up when your head keeps falling off,” Nearly Headless Nick complained.

5. Get something off your chest: Confess your problems

“Doctor, there’s something I need to get off my chest,” said the patient to his therapist.

6. Get a pat on the back: Receive praise and appreciation

After shoving the Olympic gold medalist off the podium, the silver medalist insisted it had only been an encouraging pat on the back.

7. Give your right arm for something: Want something very badly

I’d give my right arm to be a great guitarist!

8. Be the bee’s knees: Be highly admired

Nobody but an English student would think Shakespeare is the bee’s knees.

9. Get cold feet: Feel too nervous to carry out a plan

The Abominable Snowman had sworn to eat all the mountaineers – but in the end he got cold feet.

10. Dip your toe in the water: Cautiously try something new

“You know, I invented the wheel just to dip my toe in the water – my actual plan was to invent a spaceship,” said Neolithic man.

I gave her a love poem and she returned it with grammar corrections!

“I gave her a love poem and she returned it with grammar corrections!”
That’s what John said when he wrote Mary a love poem on Valentine’s Day.
Because when Mary returned John’s poem, it was covered with red marks (and we don’t mean kisses).
Mary even wrote back to say “No”, in perfect grammar.
But this Valentine’s Day,
grammar won’t stand in the way of true love!
Because our editors are here to help you find the perfect words for someone special.
PaperTrue, Unit 27, Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3AF

— The PaperTrue Team

Even your New Year’s resolutions need proofreading!

It’s the New Year, a great time to make promises for the coming year.

But watch out when you’re writing down that list of resolutions – because you might accidentally make some promises that are rather difficult to keep.

Proofreading your New Year's resolutions is a good idea!

Proofreading your New Year’s resolutions is a good idea!

And if getting things done on time is one of your big goals for 2015, check out our post on the surprising benefits of delaying your work!

— The PaperTrue Team

Five reasons to write your essay at the last minute

When you’re in college, nobody ever tells you procrastination is a good thing. (Procrastination is delaying things like assignments until the last minute – or the one after that – or just a little later – or why don’t I wake up really extra early tomorrow morning and start then?)

No, everyone has really terrible things to say about procrastination. (I could tell you some of them, but I think I’ll get around to that tomorrow.) You’d think putting stuff off was the worst thing in the world. I mean, delaying cheating on an exam until it’s too late almost seems worse than actually cheating bang on time!

But fellow last-minute workaholics, I have good news for you: your habit of delaying working on stuff actually has some unique and great advantages. So when you have to submit that essay first thing Monday morning, and you begin working at 11 pm on Sunday, you can do so with a light heart and a tune on your lips. Here’s why:

1)       Procrastination is a great way of looking before you leap.

Just because you’re delaying sitting down to write your essay, doesn’t mean you’re not working on it at all. You keep thinking about it every now and then. And so your brain keeps whirring away in the background, figuring out the topic of your paper and what you’re going to write.

That’s why, when you finally get to work, there’s already a fairly neat plan for the whole essay laid out in your mind. You’ve strategized your project instead of hurriedly jumping into it – that’s called looking before you leap, and it’s a great way to work.

2)       Working under last-minute pressure brings out the best in you.

When you’re writing that paper under an insane deadline, there’s no time to waste. There’s no time to doubt your ideas, or to get side-tracked during your research, or to get distracted by Facebook. There’s just no time to do anything but focus completely on your work – and so, that’s what you do. You go Zen. You have that incredibly rare thing – perfect concentration.

3)       Your intuition needs some time before it can deliver that brilliant idea.

Has a great solution to a problem ever just popped into your head, when you were doing something completely different? Ever wonder what Newton was doing under that tree when the apple fell? He didn’t come up with the idea of gravity only by sweating over it in his study. I like to imagine Newton was out there just taking in the pleasant weather, when bam! Down came the apple and with it came inspiration!

Your mind sometimes just needs a break, so it can approach that essay from a different angle. Taking a break from work can be a great idea – and procrastinators are experts in that area.

4)       Waiting until the last minute makes your plans really adaptable.

The best laid plans pretty bloody often go awry, to paraphrase Burns. How often have you seen your friends carefully finish their term paper weeks before the deadline – only to have the teacher suddenly announce that you’d be working in groups instead of individually, or that you’d be giving a talk instead of writing a paper? I’ve seen it happen a hundred times, and a little strategic procrastination definitely saved me all the sweat and the tears my friends went through! Waiting makes sure that you have all the information you need before you put your plans in action.

5)       You get a lot of other stuff done!

This might not sound like a great benefit of procrastinating, but in fact, it can be really huge. If you’re a true procrastinator, you can turn this habit to your advantage by playing off different tasks against each other. So if you’re avoiding reading Hard Times for a term paper, you can do the laundry instead – which is something you’d normally avoid, but which doesn’t scare you anywhere near as much as Dickens does!

And so you end up accomplishing a whole load of things that you’d never have gotten around to doing otherwise. You probably owe it to procrastination if you got your whole CD collection cross-catalogued by year and artist, or cleaned out your desk’s bottom drawer, or ever did any vacuuming!

                                                                                                                   — The PaperTrue Team

Five qualities that annoy your friends, but will make you a great editor

The world doesn’t like having it’s grammar corrected. (“Its”, you say? What’s the bloody difference, you got the message, right?)

If you’re like most language geeks, you’ve been called a Grammar Nazi, banned from forums for pointing out too many language errors, and maybe even compared to Sheldon Cooper.

But here’s the good news – when people need to write that super-impressive job application or essay, you’re going to be everybody’s new best friend (and proofreader).

So this is the test of your talent – have you annoyed your friends by doing all of the five things below? If you have, whip out that red pencil and put on your best intellectual frown – you’re a born editor!

1. Correcting people’s grammar instead of responding to what they’re saying.

People get seriously mad when they send you a text message and get your proofreading services instead of a reply. But one day, there going to love you for knowing their’s a mistake in they’re sentences (like in this one).

Proofreading texts instead of replying to them - the mark of a potentially great editor.

The five habits of highly effective grammar nazis. Habit one: Correcting people’s grammar instead of responding to what they’re saying.

2. Pointing out language errors in rather inappropriate situations.

If the author of Roses are Red had written the world’s most famous love poem for a language geek…

“Thanks for the love poem, but violets aren’t really blue. They’re, um, violet. Hence the name.”

Well, the poet might have ended up writing a much better poem – but about unrequited love!

3. Being way too exact. To be precise, we mean being extremely and often excessively meticulous and detailed.

This is why people might compare you to Sheldon Cooper – you want words to say very exactly what they mean, or mean very exactly what they say (we can’t figure out which of the two is more very exact).

Being overly exact about words - the mark of a potentially great editor.

The five habits of highly effective grammar nazis. Habit three – Being overly exact about words.

And we can’t help remembering this classic Sheldon moment:


4. Correcting errors in public places.

Watching you in action as a grammar policeman or policewoman can be embarrassing for some people, particularly when championing the cause of good language involves open combat on public terrain.

Public terrain includes graffiti:

Correcting errors in public places - the mark of a potentially great editor.

The five habits of highly effective grammar nazis. Habit four – Correcting errors in public places (including graffiti)! (Image source:

And even McDonald’s signs:

Correcting errors in public places - the mark of a potentially great editor.

At least they didn’t mess up the apostrophe in McDonald’s, eh?
(Image source: imgur)

5. Making people uncomfortable by being extremely well-spoken all the time.

Being well-spoken is a huge asset when you’re editing or proofreading people’s important documents, but it’s likely to annoy your friends if you do it all the time. Doing it all the time includes telling jokes like:

– Knock, knock.
– Who’s there?
– To.
– To who?
– No, to whom.

And now, potential great editors, here is the final and ultimate test of your grammar geekhood. If you laugh within three seconds of reading the line below, PaperTrue welcomes your résumé.

What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?


The PaperTrue Team


Why are British and American Accents Different? It’s all about Power, the Radio, and TV

Why are the British and American accents different? The question is quite often framed as, “When did the Americans stop speaking with a British accent?” But surprisingly, linguists suggest that it was the other way around: British people gradually ceased to speak like Americans.

There were no sound recorders back in the 1700s (the oldest known recording of a human voice was made in 1860). But one can imagine American patriots in 1776 sounded much like their modern-day descendants when they said things like “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. They would have pronounced all the ‘r’s, for instance (linguists call this a rhotic accent). And the patriots’ British contemporaries probably spoke in a very similar way – only in the 19th century did non-rhotic accents become more common in England, with the ‘r’ going silent in words like “liberty” and “pursuit”.

What is widely thought of today as the standard British accent evolved quite recently, as languages go. It developed in the 1800s among the upper class in Southern England, and was first called “public school pronunciation”. This distinctive accent was often heard among students from the privileged and ruling classes, who were educated at exclusive boarding schools such as Winchester, Eton, Harrow and Rugby and at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Through these students, this manner of speech grew to be used by the southern upper classes in general, and soon became associated with wealth and prestige, particularly among the middle classes in London.

“It is the business of educated people to speak so that no-one may be able to tell in what county their childhood was passed,” wrote A. Burrell (citation) in his Handbook for Teachers in Public Elementary School, 1891. And indeed, the public school accent was only loosely based on the speech of the south-east Midlands, and conveyed no clues about the speaker’s region of origin. It did however indicate the speaker’s social status and educational background, in Victorian England.

At this time, many people of low birth rank were growing wealthier as a result of the industrial revolution, and they wished to be accepted into the higher social circles frequented by the ruling classes. In this situation, the posh “public school” accent quickly became a highly desirable and fashionable status marker. A new stock of specialists in elocution and accent training appeared, offering to train the socially ambitious in this lofty manner of speech for a substantial fee. It was also during this time that the first pronunciation dictionaries were printed, and a standardised English accent (“Received Pronunciation”) began to be established.

Due to the economic and political power of southern England (particularly London), this accent spread across the country and British colonies abroad, through the armed forces, the civil services, and later the radio, as the voice (quite literally) of authority, social prestige and economic power.

Meanwhile, in the newly independent United States – especially in the port cities like Boston, Richmond and Charleston which had close trading ties with England – many people imitated the Received Pronunciation to flaunt their high social status. This accent spread among wealthy Americans through the plantation culture of the South.

Towards the mid-20th century, industrialisation led to the rise of a newly wealthy elite class in the manufacturing centres of the American Midwest. The changes in British English had less influence here than in the coastal cities, and people in the Midwest still spoke with a rhotic accent influenced by settlers from Northern England and Ireland. As these cities became the new centres of political and economic power, a sound similar to the Midwestern accent became increasingly prevalent throughout America.

What is today called the General American (GenAm) accent is a generalised sound closely related to the Midwestern way of speaking, which does not specifically belong to any region. It has an interesting connection to the Received Pronunciation (RP) in England.

The General American accent, too, gives the hearer no clue about the speaker’s geographical origin, while creating a favourable impression about their social class and level of education. Often seen as a culturally and regionally “neutral” accent (or even as “no accent”) in the U.S., this is the manner of speaking taught in “accent reduction” classes across the country, and English language classes around the world.

In the 1920s, a change occurred on both sides of the Atlantic that brought both the British RP and the GenAm accent into hugely widespread circulation: the new technologies of radio and television broadcasting.

Because of their association with class and prestige and their lack of regional particularity, both accents were the perfect choice for mass media broadcasts. Lord Reith, General Manager of the BBC, adopted the RP in 1922 as a standard accent for all BBC broadcasting. He believed that using an accent evocative of any particular region could alienate many listeners, whereas the RP would be widely understandable in England and overseas, not to mention its social prestige. For similar reasons, American newscasters too adopted the GenAm accent: famous television journalist Linda Ellerbee, whose Texan origin hardly shows in her speech, is often quoted as saying, “In television you are not supposed to sound like you’re from anywhere”.

The strange fact is that only a very small percentage of the British population actually speak in the RP accent: Peter Trudgill’s 1974 estimate was that only about 3% of people in Britain were RP speakers. Similarly, the exact GenAm accent is considered hard to find in the U.S., outside a small region in the Midwest.

Today, because the RP represents only a small and affluent sector of the population of southern England, it has become increasingly associated with non-democratic privilege and cultural domination. In Northern Britain, many people see the RP as a southern accent rather than a non-regional one, and as a mark of the political power of the south-east in the country. And you can hear an increasing diversity of regional accents in mass media broadcasting. Wryly laying the pompous RP to rest, here’s Chumbawumba’s “R.I.P RP”, telling us to “let our words go free”.

— The PaperTrue Team