Easily Confused: BESIDE Vs BESIDES

These two words are confused all the time! Let’s Look at the difference:

BESIDE is a preposition.
It means (1) by the side of or next to something or someone:

  1. “Tasha sits beside Jamal in English class.”
  2. “My Alarm clock is beside my bed.”

or (2) in comparison to something:

  1. “The cost of the project seems small beside the potential profits.”

BESIDES is a preposition and an adverb.
As a preposition it means (1) other than something or someone:

  1. “There’s no pizza left besides plain cheese.”

or (2) in addition to something:

  1. Besides my homework, I need to do my chores and wash up.”

As an adverb it means (1) as well:

  1. “They teach sculpture and many other crafts besides.”

or (2) in addition to what has been said:

  1. “I’m not upset the picnic was canceled. Besides, it’s supposed to rain later.”

You can explore, practice, and master these two tricky words (and many other words besides)  here: http://www.vocabnetwork.com/featured/blog/9903/

Easily Confused: AFFECT Vs EFFECT

Close in meaning and spelling, affect and effect might be the most commonly confused in all of English! Let’s look at the difference:

To AFFECT (verb) means to influence or to cause a change:

  1. Norman’s injury didn’t affect his desire to compete.
  2. I don’t feel so good. Something is affecting my stomach
  3. The families were deeply affected when they visited the memorial.

An EFFECT (noun) is the change that results.

  1. The injury had no effect on Norman’s performance.
  2. The medicine I’m taking is working to good effect.
  3. Leaving the memorial had a restorative effect on the family.

Check out our ‘Affect Vs Effect’ studylist:


And use your English to good effect with VocabNetwork!

Photo: felixtsao on Flickr

Fun & Games

What do you like to do for fun?

Quidditch, the flying-broomstick fantasy sport featured in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, is sweeping U.S. universities.  Students can choose it as an extracurricular (outside the regular duties of one’s job or profession) activity, just like other sports or clubs.

More interested in the great indoors?  VN’s Gaming studylist highlights the thrills and entertainment possible with just you, your television, and a game controller.


Nintendo has been around a long time, but their newest innovation (act of changing something established) is unlike anything else: a 3D handheld game console.




Civilization is a game that lets you create a world empire. Civilization V, the newest edition, features a better tactical (characterized by smart maneuvering) battles for enhanced gameplay.



Motion-activated controllers are the current big thing in video games, but the Kinect for Xbox has one-upped (gotten the better of) them all: your whole body becomes the controller!


Ready for more Fun & Games Vocablets?  Check out the Flash Mobs studylist, or click on the pictures below to sample other Fun & Games Vocablets to get started on a studylist of your own!


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Plants are pretty amazing.  Some are much more than meets the eye.

The Tricky Plants studylist on VocabNetwork.com includes a few with special tricks for survival hidden up their sleeves — er, stems.


The stem of the South African Rat’s Tail works as a perfect perch for birds to rest upon.  What better way to seduce (win over and attract) birds to settle down for a moment, sip its nectar, and help spread its pollen to other plants?


Figs are pollinated by tiny wasps that crawl inside the fruit to eat the flesh, and sometimes wasps die in there.  Then, the fig uses a enzyme (protein capable of producing chemical changes) to break its body down and use it for nourishment. The predator becomes the prey!


How can an entire forest be made up of only one tree?  When that tree is a Great Banyan Tree.

The huge plant has an enormous aerial (growing in the air) root structure that gives the impression of many individual trees — over 2,800 of them!


Plants are everywhere — all around you, every moment of every day, and you probably don’t even notice them most of the time. They are essential to every form of animal life on Earth, they form the base of the food chain, and they fill our atmosphere with the oxygen we breathe.  Check out examples out below and in all kinds of Nature: Plants Vocablets on VocabNetwork.com.

A tribe of native people in India figured out a unique method of building bridges — they grew them!  The bridges, grown from the Ficus Elastica plant, were built long ago and they’re still thriving (growing powerfully) – in fact, they only grow stronger as time goes on.  Talk about an unconventional use of natural resources!

These bizarre trees can only be found on the island of Socotra, located just east of the Horn of Africa.  Because of its isolation, fully one-third of its plants are endemic (native and confined to the region).   With such unusual flora decorating the landscape, it’s no wonder Socotra has been called the most alien place on Earth!

Do you know about an unusual plant or have an unusual flora experience?  Tell us and we’ll make it into a Vocablet on VocabNetwork.com.  Or start studying right now with our Tricky Plants studylist.


With all the hype about Google Books, e-readers, closing bookstores, and our changing brains adapting to the Internet, we can forget how important books are, and have been, in our world and our history.


From baby books with cardboard pages to teenage romance novels to great works of literature, books accompany us throughout our education and, if you’re the reading type, for the rest of our lives.

Even if you’re not a reader, books are impossible to ignore or avoid — whether it’s an employee training manual, a dictionary of industry terms, a client list, or a book of protocol and procedure, books are an integral part of just about every workplace.

I, for one, don’t think that books will become completely obsolete any time soon — after all, you can’t doodle in the margins of an e-reader or bring your laptop to a sandy beach.

Even Google has its limitations…

Google, as the new powerhouse of information, had the idea to digitize every book ever published and make them all freely available on the Internet.  However, copyright and antitrust laws brought those plans to a sudden stop in federal court.


Ayn Rand’s most famous novel, Atlas Shrugged, tells the story of a dystopian United States in which the innovators, thinkers, and producers of the world are continually exploited by government and society.  When a genius named John Galt leads a strike with those exploited leaders, the world quickly falls into a state of disorder.



Then there are the books that most of us have at least heard of, even if we didn’t have to read them in high school or college English Literature classes.  The Classic Books studylist details some of these influential works that have stood the test of time.

Kafka’s The Metamorphosis tells the story of a man who transformed overnight into a giant beetle — certainly an experience causing fear and distress!

On a deeper level, the novel uses this absurd premise to explore human feelings of inadequacy and guilt.


Some have called Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina the greatest novel ever written, providing a basis for its reputation as authoritative and perfect as a standard of its kind.

The story is about the title character’s affair with a married man, and the tragedy that befalls her search for peace.


In Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, a beautiful young man sells his soul in exchange for eternal youth.

Over time, the influence of his mentor and his own selfishness, both evil in nature, cause his soul, reflected in a painting, to become hideous and deformed.


Since the invention of the bound book about two thousand years ago, books have made a lasting impression on our lives and society.  They record history, tell outrageous tales, and posit revolutionary ideas.  And even with computers, smartphones, and other rapidly-advancing technology, I imagine the good old-fashioned book will remain a staple in our intellectual lives for at least the foreseeable future.

Read any good books lately?  Did they have interesting and challenging vocabulary to learn?  Have you seen a story about books that would make a good Vocablet?  Tell us all about it in the comments!

Studylist of the Week: Phenomenal Phenomena

Technology moves so fast these days it’s hard to keep up.  Here are a few of the newest and coolest things being created by the intrepid inventors of the world, with more to see in VocabNetwork’s Phenomenal Phenomena studylist.


This gadget might seem like something out of a James Bond movie, but it’s real.

It’s an ordinary-looking pen with a diminutive (very small or much smaller than is usual) video camera that can record over an hour of video.



How can you communicate if you can’t move to speak or use sign language?

Using new technology, people who are paralyzed (unable to move or feel part or all of the body) can spell words with their thoughts!



With these augmented (added to or made greater in amount or strength) reality glasses, you can see digital content on top of the real world.

It’s like having a computer in front of your eyes all the time!



If you could summon (ask to come) an ice cream truck whenever you wanted, would you do it?

A company in San Francisco is testing a mobile app that does just that, which could make lots of kids (and adults!) happy.

Studylist of the Week: Amazing Sky

The sky has been a source of inspiration and wonder for humans for thousands of years.  We’ve always looked up and wondered what else was out there in a universe of seemingly endless possibilities.

The Amazing Sky studylist highlights some of the wonders that the sky can show us.


A look at the sky on a clear night provides a breathtaking view of the visible universe.

Though the stars may look innumerable (too numerous to be counted), what’s amazing is that there are probably even more planets than stars!


The aurora, an amazing light show in the sky seen from the northern or southern poles, is caused by sunlight reflecting off the Earth’s atmosphere.

The phenomenon (situation that is observed to happen) is truly wondrous, and has been called the “Dance of the Spirits.”


Can you imagine a place where lightning brightens the sky almost constantly?  It exists!

The lightning above the Catatumbo happens so often, sailors know it as the “Maracaibo Beacon (light used to warn and guide vessels)“.


A lunar rainbow is a rare occurrence, requiring just the right environmental factors.

When the clouds in the sky are thin enough to just barely veil (hide or partly hide something) the moon’s light, the lunar rainbow can be seen.


Are you studying the Amazing Sky studylist?  Let us know about your progress in the comments!

Studylist of the Week: Animal Attack

Most of the time, we think of animals as our friends.  We watch them with fascination in zoos, we play with them in our own houses, and we rely on them as a source of food.  But wild animals are capable of bizarre and awesome feats to defend themselves or hunt down prey.  Some of these feats are highlighted in VN’s Animal Attack studylist.


Black jaguars are the same species as their lighter-colored friends, with the same deadly skill at hunting.

Jaguars prefer to ambush (wait in hiding to attack) their prey, using the element of surprise to their advantage.



This scary-looking creature is called a sea wasp, known for being the deadliest jellyfish in the world.

Its venom (poisonous secretion of an animal, usually transmitted by a bite or sting) is strong enough to kill 60 people!


The viperfish, a fierce predator with sharp, needle-like teeth, has a unique way of catching prey.

The fish has a light at the end of its spine that it uses to lure (attract of tempt as part of a trap) its food.



It’s amazing how such tiny animals can cause such a huge amount of damage, but with half a million ants per colony, there’s strength in numbers.

Army ants send out groups to search for food, decimating (destroying or causing great damage) everything in their path.


What other animals have amazing attack capabilities?

Studylist of the Week: Flash Mobs

You’re in a public place, maybe an airport, a city square, or a public transit station, when all of a sudden dozens or hundreds of people around you break into choreographed dancing.  What is going on??  It’s a flash mob!

VocabNetwork’s Flash Mobs studylist highlights some of these huge, wacky, unexpected events that have been popping up all over the world.

Weddings are often crowded affairs, but what if yours was accompanied by a mob (large, sometimes unruly crowd of people) of dancers?

That’s what happened to a couple in Boston, whose wedding included a flash mob celebration.


Smiles and laughter are not the most common occurrences at airports these days, but Dubai changed that one day.

The airport orchestrated (planned and directed a complex undertaking) a flash mob of 55 dancers, much to the weary travelers’ delight.


Flash mobs rely on surprise — without it, the event loses its spontaneity and risks growing out of control.

So, when a news team found out about a planned mob of carolers, the flash (happening suddenly or very quickly) mob had to scale back its plans.


Another flash mob in Kansas City consisted of a whopping 450 people!

The brainchild (original plan or idea attributed to a person or group) behind the whole event was Ann Sundeed, who started organizing it with 20 others.


Have you ever participated in a flash mob?  Have you seen one?  What do you think of the flash mob phenomenon?


Studylist of the Week: Robots Take Over the World

Robots may seem like pure science fiction, but the quickly advancing reality of our technological friends might surprise you. The Robots Take Over the World studylist highlights some of the new and amazing ways that robots will affect our lives in the future.


Some humanoid robots can accurately mimic (imitate or copy in action, speech, etc) human activity.

With robots like these, you might have to look twice to be sure the person you’re talking to is really a person!



Babyloid is a robot baby designed to keep older people company and fight depression.

The cuddly robot has red lights in its cheeks to show when it feels contented (satisfied with things as they are).



Could your job be done by a robot?

Robots are now encroaching (trespassing upon the domain or rights of another) on the world of food service, replacing human waiters in some restaurants.



Cochlear implants, prosthetic limbs, pacemakers, glass eyes….

Many people today qualify as cyborgs (humans whose physical abilities are helped by technology devices).  Who knows what will come next?


What do you think of all this robotic technology?  Are scientists entering dangerous territory or will robots only be used for the good of humanity?