Why Linguistics?

This is a guest post by Oli Rainford.

When explaining one of the major decisions of your life there’s often a temptation to glamorize the reasoning behind your choice, perhaps to imply that your past-self predicted the future importance of such a decision with weapons-grade foresight, so with that in mind,

Why did I choose to study Linguistics?

Maybe I had a revelation, some dream-borne epiphany that showered me in a ‘greater-meaning’.

Alternatively, perhaps whilst trekking in a land far-away, I was overcome by the languages around me, the beauty of the experience filling me with an inexplainable emotion that required I find out what a ‘wug’ is immediately.

Or, in a series of events that could rival the Lion King, perhaps a recently deceased relative appeared to me in the clouds with a cracking philosophical one-liner like ‘words are at the heart of all’, leading me on a quest to find out what that really means.

Are these the reasons I chose to study linguistics? Well, rather boringly, no.

I slept epiphany-less, like most teenagers, in my room at my parents’ house, both of whom are alive and well and live in Sussex, not somewhere renowned for its linguistic diversity or gap-year mystique. I spent my days doing what everyone else did, going to class and preparing for what was sold to us as ‘the most important part of our lives so far’, unburdened by anything that even vaguely resembled a higher calling.

That being said I did find things interesting, a lot of things actually; the run up to that year’s UCAS deadline saw me mull over numerous university courses. Human Geography, Toxicology, Journalism, Anatomy, Philosophy; all ideas I considered spending 3 years of my life on. I reached Linguistics about two weeks before UCAS forms were due to be submitted, and whilst on the one hand it may have seemed like the 6th subject to come to mind, and thus probably not a solid choice, there was something that set it apart from my other considerations.

I found all my other possibilities interesting, fascinating in a lot of cases. Take Toxicology as an example: did you know the chemical that makes poison ivy toxic is part of a group of chemicals also found in mangoes? Meaning that if you are allergic to mango, there’s a very high chance that poison ivy would do far more than leave you with a rash. Now, to me that is fascinating, but I totally appreciate that anybody else would find it uninteresting at the best of times, utterly tedious at the worst.

With Linguistics, however, it was different. Looking into course guides and suggested reading lists I was engrossed in what I found, discovering an enthusiasm that I hadn’t had for an academic subject in years, and the more I read the more I struggled to believe that anybody could find the study of language boring. At the time, had you asked why I chose linguistics, I probably would’ve supplied that as my answer, and if asked why I was so interested I probably would’ve answered something along the lines of, ‘I don’t know, I just am’.

As it turns out I did have reason for picking it, but as with most major life decisions, back then it was simply a strong gut feeling, one that I couldn’t put into words. However, 4 years later and armed with the gift of retrospect, I think I can articulate what it was that caused me to choose linguistics, and it didn’t come from a textbook or a lecture. It came from when I sat down and spoke to people about language.

Everybody has a view on language, an intuitive understanding built on a life of practice, and it was whilst observing this I discovered how revealing linguistics can be. When people sit and talk with you about any aspect of their language, it’s nearly always accompanied with personal experience, and more often than not those experiences aren’t grand or steeped in a deeper meaning, they’re about everyday life; bog-standard, boring, wonderful everyday life.

Because at the end of the day, the study of language is the study of something beautifully human; something so stupendously impressive yet so familiar and common at the same time. In Linguistics, no matter how complex a model becomes, or how deeply debated a question remains, the fact will always stand that that which we model and debate over is what allows us to model and debate in the first place. Language is such a part of humanity that now, having graduated, I firmly believe that to study it is to take a step towards understanding what it means to be a human, a bog-standard, boring, wonderful human.

To see the beauty in the everyday, the spectacular behind the boring, the innermost workings of the outermost nothings.

That is why I chose to study linguistics.

Purity, Excellence and European- the true meaning behind brand names

Heinz, Starbucks, Sony, Kodak. These are just four of the hundreds of brand names we often see televised, bill-boarded, and purchased by ourselves on a daily basis. But how much do we actually know about these names and all the rest? After scouring the internet for answers, here are a few of my personal favourites:

  1. Häagen – Dazs
    If someone was to ask me to guess the reason behind this brand name, I’d say it was because it was a rich Danish guy’s creation. Clearly it had the intended effect, since the brand is entirely American and not Danish at all. Although the name does make the product feel more premium, the American’s lived up to their stereotype of ignorance by overlooking the fact that Danish doesn’t even use umlauts. Oops.
  1. Adidas
    I had to mention this one, as around the age of 10 somebody convinced me it stood for ‘After Dinner I Did A Shit’. Another more believable and popular belief is that it stands for ‘All Day I Dream About Sports’. Unfortunately neither is true, and the famous sportswear brand is actually a portmanteau of the founder’s name- Adolf (Adi) Drassler. Although a small part of me was hoping for the former, crude explanation I came across, I think anyone who owns an item from the brand is glad they’re not walking around sporting the name ‘Adolf’ in big bold letters.
  1. Nivea
    Niveus is apparently Latin for Snow White, and they wanted a name that reflected the colour of their signature skin cream. What better than the image of purity to go with white? So if you’re looking to feel better the morning after a night before, you can’t go wrong with a bottle of purity priced below £3.
  1. Venus- Gillette
    Gillette named their razor targeted at women after the Roman equivalent of Aphrodite- who we’re all aware of as being the Greek Goddess of love, sex, and fertility. If I’m honest, I could have done without the action of putting a razor to my skin being sexualised, but I am guilty of buying them for the pink handle.
  1. Durex
    An abbreviation of Durable Reliable Excellence. This had to make into my top 5 just for the contrast to the American bestselling condom brand Trojan, which brings up more imagery of viruses than the virility of the Trojan people they were aiming for.

By Natasha Nayga

What’s in a (user)name?


Like most students, I’m no stranger to procrastination; it can be incredibly hard knuckling down to one task when there’s just so much interesting stuff out there. One morning not so long ago, I was finding it particularly difficult to focus. I’d already checked my emails, caught up with the latest news (via both the BBC and Facebook) and ‘spent’ an impressive £300 I didn’t have browsing on ASOS. I knew I should be starting my assignment, but no. Instead, I told myself ‘just a couple more minutes’ and turned to one of the most dangerous sites known to modern procrastinators: Youtube.

In my defence, I wasn’t intending to just trawl aimlessly through videos of animals looking cute and people making fools of themselves. I was simply going to log into my account, check my stats, and log out again. However, when I logged in and found (much to my amazement) that I’d topped 1,000 subscribers, my plan went out the window. 1,000 people, all interested in my videos! I had to take a closer look.

As I scrolled through my list of followers, I found myself thinking more and more about the usernames people had chosen. What did they say about their owners? Was ‘John123’* really just an average, slightly unimaginative bloke called John? (Quite possibly.) Was ‘catwoman23’ really the batty old lady with 23 cats who immediately popped into my head? (Perhaps not.) Names ranged from fairly unremarkable to a bit quirky to just plain bizarre, but they always, always seemed to cause me to make some sort of general assumptions about character. And those assumptions fascinated me.

Offline, we have relatively little control over our names. But online, we are given chance after chance to come up with our very own label. Pretty much every major website seems to require a username in some form or another, and in choosing that short combination of characters, we’re influencing the way we are going to be seen.

On sites like Youtube, most people won’t suffer any real harm from posting under a slightly questionable username. Okay, so a more outlandish choice might spark the odd curious/bemused/witty comment from a fellow user, but as long as it’s not offensive, it’s unlikely to cause any real problems. Elsewhere, though, and a username might be really quite significant. Take ebay, for example. Common items can be listed by hundreds of different people, all competing for business. When prices and ratings are comparable, how do you choose where to go? Personally, I look at the names. Whoever I get the best vibe from, I buy from.

It’s quite frightening, really. There are so many possibilities, and even subtle variations might prompt very different judgements. What makes it even more complicated is that it’s all so subjective. A name that sounds clever to one person might make another immediately conclude, ‘try-hard’. A more fun, playful name might seem plain childish to somebody else. It’s impossible to know how much or in what ways our usernames influence other people, but it’s worth thinking about. They may not seem like much, but at the end of the day we’ve singled out those specific combinations of characters to represent ourselves. As with all our language choices, it would be foolish to think that they don’t have any consequences.


*All usernames in this post are fictitious and are not intended to bear any resemblance to real online users.

Spoonerisms: Getting Your Words Mixed Up


By Joe Saunders

As children, we gradually grasp of our language, learn how to use it properly and how to pronounce our words clearly and succinctly. This is usually the case, anyway, unless you’re like me and frequently suffer from a complete and utter brainmelt halfway through your speech, coming out with an embarrassing slip like ‘flat cap’ instead of ‘cat flap’, or ‘flutterby’ instead of ‘butterfly’. However, interestingly enough there’s a term for this linguistic phenomenon: named after William Archibald Spooner, such slips are known as ‘spoonerisms’. They involve the switching of sounds or syllables, typically between two-word phrases or compounds, giving an effect not entirely dissimilar from Cockney rhyming slang. As you would expect, it can create some rather odd combinations. A few examples are given below:

‘Car park’ –> ‘Par cark’ (Apparently this one featured particularly heavily in my childhood – oops.)

‘It’s pouring with rain’ –> ‘It’s roaring with pain’  

‘Cat flap’ –> ‘Flat cap’

‘Block of flats’ –> ‘Flock of bats’

‘I’m going to cook the chicken’ –> ‘I’m going to kick the chooken’ (A family favourite, this one.)

‘Bad salad’ –> ‘Sad ballad’

‘A pack of lies’ –> ‘A lack of pies’

‘Foul beast’ –> ‘Bowel feast’

‘Popcorn’ –> ‘Cop porn’

Spoonerisms are usually accidental, slipping out when your brain is running faster than your mouth, but if you want to be a true “Spoonerist” then you could always try a few in everyday speech. You might get a few weird looks, though.

Heard any spoonerisms recently? Give us a tweet or comment on our Pacebook fage!

Prescriptivist or descriptivist: Where do you fit in?

by Joe Saunders

Whether you know it or not, you, like the rest of us, will have your own opinion on language use. Do you think certain things are ‘right’ whilst others are very much ‘wrong’? Or are you more accepting – watching, listening, but not judging? In the glorious realm of linguistics, there are names for these two perspectives: prescriptivism and descriptivism.

Put simply, prescriptivists are concerned with the regulation of a language and the prevention of change or deviation from a standardised or `proper` form. A good example is L’Académie français, an organisation set up to moderate and ‘purify’ the French language.

The descriptivist stand-point is very different; descriptivists are interested in observing and recording language change and any linguistic phenomena. Generally, descriptivism is the more interesting standpoint, as it often involves looking behind differences in language use and investigating trends rather than resisting or disregarding them. As anyone who is studying or has studied ELL will know, this is the perspective taken by linguists – which is just as well, as we wouldn’t really have much to talk about otherwise.

Not sure what your standpoint is on language? Take our highly sophisticated quiz:

Do you have any of the following symptoms?

  • Extreme anger at certain aspects of language use.
  • Correcting other people’s language in public and online.
  • Losing control of your face and inadvertently scowling when you come across certain spellings and/or applications of grammar.
  • You can understand this: “je pense que tu aurais dû dire ‘tu es’ “

If you have all four then you are probably a prescriptivist, hate change and should see a doctor. If not, then you probably lean more towards the descriptivist viewpoint and can happily continue learning Dohvazul in your spare time (Zu’u lost ven ahk pogaas tiid nau dii haal…).

In all seriousness though, people’s views on language and language use has an effect on variation and the way that our language evolves – or doesn’t evolve. I myself am a descriptivist and hate to see language creativity die, but which do you agree with more?


By Daniel Otway.bandwagon

Idioms. How we love them. But do we know the origins of some of our favourite sayings? Why do we tell someone to ‘break a leg’ when we wish them good luck? Why do we use imagery of being ‘in the same boat’ when someone is in a similar situation to you? And why do we turn over leaves when we want to start afresh? Allow The Definite Article to shed some light on these famous sayings.


‘In the same boat’

“This week’s reading is really difficult! How are you finding it?”

“Yeah I’m in the same boat, it’s really hard.”

Why a boat? Well, dating back all the way to the ancient Greeks, the idiom was often used to refer to the danger of passengers travelling in small boats – a very common use of transportation at the time. Over time, it has become used to describe situations not just on the sea and has been adapted to apply to pretty much any situation in which individuals are in a similar predicament.


‘Tables have turned’

Used to refer to a situation that has been reversed or altered, ‘tables have turned’ is a very common idiom in the English language today. The ‘tables’ refer to traditional board games, in particular backgammon. Each player would play from a specific side of the table, so by simply turning the board during the game players would be in a different position to what they were originally. A losing player could end up on a more advantageous side, and vice versa. Over time, the term began to move away from its board game origins and eventually was used to refer to a situation in which any individual’s ‘position’ was altered.


‘Jump on the bandwagon’

Be it on football, music or consumer goods, we’ve all heard the phrase ‘jump on the bandwagon’, meaning to latch onto an ever increasing popular fad or trend and typically used today in a derogatory sense. It all started, however, with a clown. In America in the 19th century, a man known as Dan Rice, a very popular clown and circus performer, became so famous he eventually ran for president in 1848. Using his various circus resources, he created a one-of-a-kind political campaign, including using the circus’ own bandwagon. Due to its popularity, many other politicians at the time wanted to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ themselves in order to rally their own support. Over time, the term developed a broader sense and became used for anyone associating themselves with a specific movement or trend.


‘Break a leg’

There are many different theories as to where the term ‘break a leg’ originated from. A simple theory is that it originated in theatre. Wishing someone good luck was considered to cause more harm than good, so by essentially wishing the opposite by saying ‘break a leg’, the performer would hopefully perform well. Other theories claim it originates from the ancient Greeks. During performances in Greek times, people would stomp their feet to show their appreciation rather than applaud. This leads to the rather grim image of performing so well that someone would stomp their feet hard enough to physically break it. Similarly, the stomping of chairs was a sign of appreciation in Elizabethan times, so the breaking of a chair leg would also signify a good performance. All these theories however all relate back to theatre, so it appears safe to assume that the term originated in the theatre at some point in time.



‘Goody two-shoes’

If you were ever called a goody two-shoes by someone as a kid, I bet they didn’t know that the term originates from a story published in 1765 and titled – believe it or not – Goody Two-Shoes. In a similar way to Cinderella, it involves a poor young girl who eventually meets a very nice rich person, is given a pair of wonderful shoes and lives happily ever after. How original. Towards the end of the story, the girl runs through her town showing off her new shoes, thus being nicknamed by the townsfolk as ‘goody two-shoes’. It is perhaps odd then that in modern times the term is used in a rather negative sense, compared to its usage at the time to deem someone virtuous and good, much like the girl in the tale.



‘Turn over a new leaf’

How many of you promised to turn over a new leaf at New Year’s? The phrase ‘turning over a new leaf’ can be traced back to the 16th century, when pages in a book, particularly in education, were known as leaves. By turning over to a blank page in a workbook, you were quite literally turning over a new leaf. By having a clean piece of paper to write on, you were also on a fresh page, ready to start anew, much like what the phrase now encapsulates.



So there you have it, the origins of some of English’s most popular idioms. Why don’t you go turn the tables and tell all your friends about your new found knowledge so you can all be in the same boat when it comes to idioms?


From Acorns to Eggcorns


How many times have you stumbled across the words “chester drawers” in a listing on eBay? Or heard someone, horrifyingly, say they eat “cold slaw”?

The creative endeavor of Chester is my pet hate; it makes me cringe every time and I have to restrain myself from correcting the speaker/writer with an impassioned speech on paying attention to what they’re saying and thinking about the fact that ‘chester drawers’ does not make any sense and can’t possibly mean what they think it means and paying attention to the red squiggly line that tells them it’s incorrect and…


Then I discovered something, a saving grace, if you will. These ‘mistakes’ have a name: eggcorns. Coined by linguist Geoffrey Pullum, 2003, the term used used to refer to a lady who laboured under the impression that ‘acorn’ was in fact, you’ve guessed it, ‘eggcorn’. Identifying an example of this linguistic phenomena is harder than it may appear though, one must also distinguish between neologisms, malapropisms and puns.

Neologism: a new coinage. Recent neologisms include:

Crowdsourcing: getting strangers to fund an activity, often via a fundraising page.

Malapropism: an error in which part of a word or phrase is substituted with another creating a nonsensical utterance. For example:

“Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons”

                                                                          -Much Ado About Nothing

Pun: a deliberate substitution of a word or phrase with another for comedic effect:

“Tomorrow…. you shall find me a grave man”

                                                          -Romeo and Juliet

An eggcorn, therefore, is a substitution which is phonetically similar to the original, can be understood with the same meaning and the speaker/writer is often unaware there has been an error.

So, what is in a name? For me, apparently quite a lot. Now, Chester presents a real-time example of an intriguing phenomena and no longer makes me shudder… well, not as much, anyway.

13 Punctuation marks you never knew you needed (but SO do)

by Imogen Stark

Do you ever get the feeling that full stops, commas, hyphens, dashes, colons, semicolons, apostrophes, quotation marks, question marks, exclamation marks, parentheses, brackets, braces and ellipses just aren’t enough to satisfy your everyday language needs? Here are some little-known punctuation marks which I (personally) think we should all be using. For those of you who are really keen, I’ve also included the keystroke keys so that you can go ahead and show off. 

THE INTERROBANG: We’ve all experienced the feeling of shock and question simultaneously (“You don’t know about The Definite Article?!”) which is normally signified with one exclamation and one question mark. It can, however, be replaced with the interrobang.

Keystroke keys:

  • HTML: &#8253
  • Unicode: U+203D
  • Word: Alt + 8253
  • If all else fails: `:-O / :O`


THE RHETORICAL QUESTION MARK/ PERCONATION POINT: Simply a backwards question mark, proposed all the way back in the 1580s by Henry Denham.

Keystroke keys: 

  • Unicode: U + 2E2E
  • If all else fails:`;-.`


THE IRONY MARK: Although it may appear very similar to the previous perconation point, it’s actually ever so slightly elevated, a little rounder and smaller. Unlike most punctuation marks, it also precedes the statement so that it is read as initially intended. Hervé Bazin proposed it in 1966, alongside 5 other (soon to be revealed) marks.

Keystroke keys:

  • Unicode: U + 061 F
  • If all else fails: `;-p`


THE LOVE POINT: With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this is surely going to reach its peak use. Consisting of two exclamation marks, one of which is mirrored (but both sharing the same point – n’aww) it’s another of Bazin’s proposals intended to indicate affection. Although it’s probably been replaced by the very 2007-esque <3, it’s a sweet proposal.

Keystroke keys:Love_point[1]

  • Word: Alt + 3
  • If all else fails: `<3`


THE ACCLAMATION POINT: Another of Bazin’s designs, he described it as “the stylistic representation of those two little flags that float above the tour bus when the president comes to town”. How thoughtful. It represents the idea of welcoming someone, so might be used in the context of “I’m so happy to see you [acclamation point]”

Keystroke keys:Acclamation_point[1]

  • If all else fails: `:-D`


THE CERTITUDE POINT: Bazin’s at it again with this punctuation mark used to end declarations with steady conviction.

Keystroke keys:

  • If all else fails: `]:-|`


THE DOUBT POINT: The opposite of the certitude point, this one can be called upon if you ever need to end your sentence with a note of scepticism.

Keystroke keys:

  • If all else fails: `(:-/`


THE AUTHORITY MARK: Bazin’s last proposal, the authority mark is used to give your sentences an air of expertise, or to indicate when advice should most definitely be taken. “Read The Definite Article [authority mark]”.

Keystroke keys:Certitude_point[1]

  • If all else fails: `):-|`


THE SARCMARK: My favourite of them all, this was proposed by Paul Sak, who branded it as “The easy-to-use punctuation mark to emphasize a sarcastic phrase, sentence or message.”

Keystroke keys:

  • If all else fails: `:-,`


THE SNARKMARK: An alternative to the Sarcmark, this is again used to indicate that a sentence should be taken beyond its literal meaning. However, UNLIKE the Sarcmark, this one isn’t copyrighted, and it’s also a lot easier to type. You’re welcome.

Keystroke keys:

  • If all else fails: `.~`


THE ASTERISM: This was once used to divide subchapters within books and indicate breaks in long periods of text, but it is now almost always shunned in favour of the (far less funky looking) triple asterix (***). Definitely think we should bring this one back

Keystroke keys:

  • HTML: &#8258
  • Unicode: U + 2042
  • Word: Alt + 8258
  • If all else fails: `***`


THE EXCLAMATION COMMA AND QUESTION COMMA: Last but not least, these two hybrid marks allow you to be excited or inquisitive without having to end a sentence. Ingenious, eh?

Keystroke keys:

  • If all else fails: `:-o`


(Piece adapted from http://mentalfloss.com/article/12710/13-little-known-punctuation-marks-we-should-be-using)



The Great Language Game


As an avid follower, lover and subscriber to Mental Floss, I often find myself scouring their pages for interesting language facts or articles.  Their Youtube page (which can be found here) also features frequent videos hosted by John Green, who I find incredibly appealing in all his cool I’m­-an­-author ways.

In a recent prolonged session of procrastination (whoops), I came across a game devised by data scientist and fellow language-lover, Lars Yencken. Appropriately named ‘The Great Language Game’, it sets out to test your knowledge of 80 world languages by playing short samples of speech and asking for educated guesses as to the language being spoken. At first the game seems easy and you can find yourself getting caught up in the excitement of correctly identifying exotic, previously unknown languages such as Tigrinya and Khmer. Unfortunately, the rounds do get tougher and it inevitably comes to a momentous and upsetting end (which ultimately leads to you restarting the game again and again until you’ve beaten your current high score). However, after a few tries of tuning your ear to these mysterious speech sounds,  it seems that not only does following your gut instinct have a profound effect on your inner linguist’s ego, but also that you can begin to identify specific characteristics of the languages such as intonation and rhythm based on your previous trials and triumphs.


I’d like to say that I’ve surpassed my expectations as a great linguist by achieving a score in the thousands, but unfortunately not. Well, not yet, anyway. With more procrastination will undoubtedly come more attempts at beating The Great Language Game, which you can try for yourself here.

PS. I know you’re just dying to find out where Tigrinya and Khmer are from; Tigrinya is an Ethiopian language and Khmer is just a fancier name for Cambodian.

Poetry…Where do I begin?

A cat,

Sat on a mat,

He heard a rat-a-tat-tat…

Writing creatively can be inspiring, a release and downright terrifying!!

Do you remember the first time your teacher asked you to write a poem? I do, palms sweating, throat thickening, so overcome by nerves and anxiety that staring at a blank piece of paper seemed to be all that was happening. ‘What ifs’ running round and round my head – ‘What if’ I can’t think of the right word? ‘What if’ it doesn’t make sense? And worst of all, ‘What if’ it’s rubbish?!

I find writing poetry fascinating because it offers a glimpse like no other into a person’s inner soul. On the other hand, that’s exactly what makes it so scary.

‘What if’ I wear my wear my heart on my sleeve? I let strangers and, worse yet, people I know uncover my inner thoughts on life, on my perception of the world and – God forbid –on love.

And ‘what if’ I can’t think of any ideas? It’s one thing writing when I’m inspired, but writing on demand is a whole other matter! ‘What if’ I haven’t seen a butterfly with wings that resemble Joseph’s techni-coloured dreamcoat and my boyfriend hasn’t torn my heart in two, or overwhelmed me with romantic gestures? Without a stimulus where do I begin?

I might just about manage to find a theme, but then what on earth should be happening in the lines? Did someone forget to teach poets the rules of grammar? Why do some lines stop at the end while others trail on and others finish with the introduction of a new subject?! My head is spinning and all the while the page remains blank.

Poetry is a story

that is so good, 

it doesn’t need

complete sentences. 

 So here’s a little guide, a ‘how to’ if you will, to help you get started on writing poetry.

First of all, don’t panic. Unless you can articulate this feeling in a figurative way then it is of little use and will only hinder your creativity. Second, don’t worry about the language. Once you find the stimulus the words will naturally come. So, where to begin?

  1. You could start with an image from the natural world: flowers, clouds, muddy puddles….
  2. Something from the built environment: a house, a place of study, a dry cleaners, a chip shop…
  3. Something from the news: a headline, something that evokes an emotion from you…
  4. A person: someone you love, hate, who inspires you, motivates you, irritates you…
  5. A regular habit: tutting, sighing, tapping a pen…

You could start by writing down one of these points, a few of these points, or even all five of them and then leave them for a little while. Let the thoughts unconsciously stew over in your mind and come back to play around with them later. See what inspires you, what fits and what can be cut out or changed.

Another brilliant tip is to take a poem you already know and use the structure but change the language so that each word is replaced with another. The result will be a poem with the same format as the original but with a completely different theme – as such, a completely different poem. This technique is a great place to start as it gives you a feel for a poem’s structure without being too overwhelming (although if you’re using it for your studies, always be sure to reference the original poem and credit the author to avoid being accused of plagiarism). Then, as you get to grips with a wider variety of formats, you will find it easier to instinctively construct your own stanzas.

When it comes to poetry writing, practice really does make perfect so just…


 And remember, it doesn’t HAVE to rhyme.

…Coming from the flat,

Suddenly out flew a bat,

Called Matt.